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Ensuring your remote staff is productive and safe

Published: April 21st, 2020 By: Glenn Weir

Fortinet

With the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns, many businesses have had to move quickly to support work-from-home (WFH) staff. The transition has been reasonably smooth and headache-free for many companies, but for others, the switchover has been challenging.

In many cases, the relative success or failure can be attributed to the health of an organization’s continuity and disaster recovery plans. When created correctly and revised regularly, those plans help a business to act decisively when an emergency situation (like a global pandemic) arises and jeopardizes normal day-to-day operations.

A good plan outlines the potential impact of disaster situations, creates policies to respond to them and helps businesses recover quickly so they can function as usual. Key parts of the plan go beyond processes and focus on people. They enable and empower members of a temporarily remote workforce to produce at the same level remotely as they did from the office.

Security attacks on the rise
Transitioning people who normally work and access data and networked resources from a physical office to remote locations is no small task. Even leaving basic networking considerations aside, there’s a huge security problem right now.

Hackers are having a field day. One endpoint security platform reported that between February 23rd and March 16th, the rate of attempted security attacks roughly quadrupled. Clearly cybercriminals are working to find and exploit those security gaps that appear when businesses are reacting to a crisis as opposed to deliberately and methodically executing a plan.

On-site to remote – key considerations
It didn’t take long for COVID-19 to go from “not a major threat” in January to being a full-on global pandemic by March. Were you fully prepared to support your staff, ensuring they could be work productively and safely from their home office? Or are you still working through the rough spots?

Here is a list of some of the key strategies integrated security provider Fortinet recommends for securely moving your on-site workers offsite, including:

  • Satisfying ground-floor requirements – Providing each and every teleworker with “the basics,” including internet and email access, file sharing, unbroken access to finance and HR and possibly access to SaaS cloud apps
  • Providing secure devices – Ensuring workers have a laptop with all the tools they need to perform their job functions with minimal disruption
  • Ensuring robust authentication – Providing every user with a secure authentication token, either a physical device (e.g., key fob) or software-based (e.g., phone app), used when making a VPN connection or logging in to the network
  • Offering persistent connectivity – Enabling secure connectivity from users’ remote locations to the network through a reliable and secure tunnel
  • Offering secure telephony – Some users might also need secure communications via a telephony solution that supports VoIP

Job one: security
But the above challenges are only one side of the coin; the other requires ensuring the corporate head-end is able to scale to meet the demands of a suddenly large number of teleworkers – while ensuring security is airtight.

Pulling this off requires certain elements, including user and device authentication as well as a next-gen firewall solution that:

  • securely terminates connections;
  • offers advanced threat detection; and
  • provides high-performance inspection of clear-text and encrypted traffic to block malware and malicious traffic.

The key for successful businesses right now is to enable and empower their remote workers with as little negative impact on resources and overall culture as possible.

Many businesses have found what they need, both for today and for what might be coming, with Fortinet.

Tailor-made for 2020
Fortinet solutions, part of a Security Fabric that enables the seamless integration of a company’s remote workforce, are easy to deploy and configure, and help organizations maintain full control, visibility, and (perhaps most importantly) security regardless of deployment environment.

Interested in learning more? Download “Secure Remote Access for Your Workforce at Scale.”