Depending on your go-to news outlet, you might hear that COVID-19 cases ramp out of control or slow down dramatically. Different parts of the country are still working through reopening strategies, with virus hotbeds such as California and New York continuing with more severe security measures. At the same time, middle America contemplates heading back to work and school. The first wave of COVID-19 was utterly unexpected and took business and technology leaders at a disadvantage. Now that many of the remote work challenges have been addressed in the short-term, how can your company begin to prepare for the second wave of difficulties caused by this global pandemic?

Redefining Security in the Age of Remote Work

As the dust settles, IT professionals are actively looking for ways to add new security layers to remote devices. With personal home computers and BYOD mobile devices, technical staff is finding unexpected vulnerabilities within their business systems and confidential data. Unfortunately, the UN is warning that cybercrime is now rising after the pandemic’s first wave flashed through the world. Malicious emails are up over 600%, leaving technology leadership to wonder whether they’ve done enough to protect against these digital criminals.

According to Anthony Buonaspina, CEO of LI Tech Advisors in Babylon, NY, companies must take a more proactive approach to security and IT infrastructure in the face of another potential outbreak and business shutdown. “Companies need to invest in their infrastructure to guarantee that it is robust enough to support remote users for prolonged periods,” notes Buonaspina. “Companies are forgetting that home PCs are now soft targets for hackers and bad actors.”

Shifting the Paradigm on Working Location

Instead of employees requiring special dispensation from senior leadership to work from home — a policy adopted by many small to mid-size businesses in the past –staff members are more likely to default to a remote working environment now and in the future. This shifting paradigm has caused a fundamental reimagining of the IT infrastructure, which may be long overdue. A recent Gartner study showed that 82% of company leaders plan to offer longer-term remote work options for their staff members, a move that will likely be applauded by teams but can be troubling to technical and security professionals. Flextime might be considered the “new norm,” with nearly half of companies looking for the cost savings that will come along with providing a full-time remote working option for their staff.

Preparing Your Company for the Next COVID-19 Wave

With data breaches on the rise, senior executives are leaning on IT leadership to ensure that remote work environments are secure and allow for a high degree of productivity for staff members. This could include everything from providing a stipend for purchasing office chairs and desks, monitors or laptops or other technology such as webcams and more. Data breaches are considered a key challenge, with companies offering a more comprehensive range of connection options for staff members, customers, and vendors. “Data breaches can be prevented by basic cybersecurity measures such as making sure all devices that access sensitive data can be remotely managed and have the requisite layer of security in place,” shared Anthony Buonaspina. “Without a robust remote access protocol in place, companies are leaving themselves open to the significant risk of costly data breaches.”

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility throughout the organization, with everyone from the mailroom to the boardroom helping to protect sensitive customer or business data and applications. Companies should be actively prioritizing the steps needed to prepare for another significant COVID-19 outbreak and extended remote work. Plus, preparing for another outbreak provides a way to create a secure, reliable, and extensible infrastructure that will support growing organizations’ needs for years to come.

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