Today, businesses are embracing digital technology to enable productivity anywhere, any time. Yet ensuring accountability is a stumbling block to widespread acceptance of remote work.
Recently, COVID-19 has forced many businesses to transition quickly to working from home. Even bosses concerned about lack of control over absent employees had to make the change. Former opponents to remote work may have discovered the benefits of this approach. Employees certainly may have enjoyed the opportunity and want to keep doing it.
The good news is that technology and products are even better today for managing remote teams.
Top Tools for Remote Work Accountability
Overall, employers need to trust their people. This is true whether they’re working on-site or from home. Still, for some supervisors, trust is easier with remote monitoring abilities.
Joint calendars are a common starting point. Microsoft 365, Google’s G Suite, and other tools allow staff to share calendars. People can still schedule personal appointments and keep those private, but the joint professional calendar lets everyone on a team stay in the know. Managers can go online to track sales meetings, client presentations, or team sessions.
Project management software is another way to see what co-workers are doing. Teamwork, Basecamp, and Trello offer a central location to see a project come together. Employees can access secure software from any location to share files and interact. Individuals can set deadlines and create tasks to improve accountability and responsibility sharing.
Business-based internal messaging software also keeps everyone on the same page. These communication tools typically provide one-on-one messaging and group chat. It’s easy to send a quick note asking someone for a status update, or just check in. Some tools also allow individual and team audio calls as well as video conferencing. Top contenders are Microsoft Teams, Slack, WhatsApp, Skype for Business, or the Facebook and Google Hangout work chat apps.
Go big enabling collaboration among employees with cloud-based office software. Microsoft 365 enables many users to go online and work on the same things at the same time. This solution also lets managers easily view shared documents and verify progress. It’s even possible to invite clients or other external partners in to view folders. For security reasons, you may want to limit their access to “view only” and set an expiration time on the link you share.
Securing Remote Work
Security is another point of friction for businesses allowing remote work, but the technology is keeping pace there also. Even so, you will want to educate employees about cybersecurity best practices. Requiring antivirus and malware upgrades, limiting external sharing, and enabling multifactor authentication will help make remote work viable, reliable, safe, and secure.
Need help installing or implementing remote work tools? We can help. Or, our IT experts can put in place the administrative controls you need to help secure work from home. Let us provide the IT help you need. Contact us today at 606-8FIX!
6 Simple Tips to Protect Your Customer Data
As cyber-attacks continue to make headlines, hackers are exposing or selling customer data files in record numbers. But just like with any threat, there are actions you can take to minimize risk and ensure your business retains a positive reputation among customers.
1. Stop using the same password on repeat. Set a mandate for all staff that passwords must be unique for each user and for your workplace. That means it can’t be remotely like the one on their home PC, tablet or online banking. Passwords are hacked more than ever, so when you’re prompted for a password change, dig deep and really think about what goes into a hacker-proof password. If remembering them is a problem, consider one of the latest password management tools.
2. Go on a shredding spree. How much sensitive data is being dumped into the recycling bin? Valuable customer data is often taken from the bins of small businesses and quickly sold or published. It’s not just good practice to shred sensitive documents, it’s the law. Take 5 seconds to run documents through the shredder or book in the services of a secure shredding company.
3. Ditch the accounting spreadsheets. Still using an Excel doc for all your number-crunching? Besides making your accountant’s job harder (and more expensive), you’re opening your business to a massive range of vulnerabilities. Even with password-protection, spreadsheets aren’t designed to safeguard your financials or those of your clients. Upgrade to a proper accounting solution with built-in customer data protections and security guarantees.
4. Train staff explicitly. You can’t rely on common sense because what you think is a given might be news to someone else. It can be extremely beneficial to hold special data-safety training sessions once or twice a year as a reminder, as well as take the time to induct new staff into the way things are done.
5. Limit access to data. Just like the bank manager who guards the keys to the vault, you can limit who accesses your data. Revoke employee access as soon as they leave your business for good, and set rules around who can access what – and when. Do they need access to sensitive information while working from home? Should they be able to change the files, or only view them?
6. Keep your software updated. Possibly the most preventable hack, having outdated software can be an open invitation for cyber-criminals. They look for known weaknesses in business software and waltz right in. While the nagging pop-ups and reminders to update can feel like a selling ploy, they’re actually helping your business to stay in the safe zone. Updated software gives you protection against new viruses and hacking techniques, plus closes off those nasty weaknesses.
If you would like to make sure your business is secure from data breaches, give us a call at (863) 606-8349 [606-8FIX].
In today's competitive, always-on landscape, businesses need to be one step ahead of their competitors to thrive and retain their customers. Your business functions on technology and it should be reliable and efficient.
In light of October being National Security Awareness Month, your first objective should be to ensure that your network and interconnected devices are secure against the proliferation of ransomware and malware knocking at your firewall's front door.
Features like these and more are commonplace with what are being called Next Generation Firewalls.
Speaking of Next Generation, the same applies to Antivirus. Several new security software companies have brought new software to market which takes a new approach to Antivirus software. Gone are the days of downloading updates and definitions; now heuristics and intrusion detection and prevention are here.
We're testing these Next Generation products and have found that some are capable of stopping malware in it's tracks and restoring any data and settings that were modified back to their original state—usually in the blink of an eye.
Contact us today to learn more! We'd be happy to have a conversation over the phone, email, or coffee!
Please be cautious of Dorian. With Hurricane Irma, we experienced winds that were primarily from one direction. While it looks like we've dodged a bullet, shifts in the direction of the winds as the eye crosses over can pack a punch due to the saturated ground.
Please be safe and alert, especially as the hurricane gets closer. Being prepared is key as the storm approaches, ensuring that we don't wake up to find out Dorian didn't turn North.
The Hurricane DR Checklist for Businesses
At IT Protectorate, our clients’ security comes first. Security researchers have now successfully weaponized BlueKeep (CVE-2019-0708), a name for a vulnerability Microsoft Remote Desktop. We expect hackers to start launching attacks on this vulnerability soon, if they haven’t already.
Do I need more Security Measures in place?
Yes and no. Most businesses (even home users) think they are too small to be noticed. However, hackers do not discriminate. On one hand, they may target a large business with the goal of a large payout in mind. On the other, they may target thousands, even millions of PCs across the internet in an effort to use them as part of their attack vector.
So, what are some recommendations?
First and foremost, IT Protectorate recommends protecting your connection to the internet with a Next-Generation firewall. A firewall will scan and block malicious traffic before it gets to your network (or leaves it!). These are not the firewalls that you can buy at Target or Walmart, mind you.
Second, protect your servers and workstations with Antivirus. We make sure our clients under Maintenance Programs are covered with managed AV, which we monitor for alerts and keep updated.
Third, consider cyber-security awareness training. IT Protectorate offers programs purposefully designed to trick your users into giving their credentials away to would-be hackers. Once identified, training programs are provided to give end users knowledge of key indicators which help them identify malicious emails, as well as general recommended practices to avoid data breaches, loss of funds due to falsified emails requesting payments and/or banking transfers.
Finally, know your data.
Do you offer more advanced security systems?
Security software and services is a huge focus after the last several years have seen the hacking of millions of cyber-citizens’ personal and business data breached and sold on the dark web. Contact us today and we’ll assess your network and provide recommendations according to your budget. A technology road-map is helpful as it allows you to plan and budget for your technology as well as recognize the value it provides your business and its’ customers.
Shameless plug: Here are some ideas and topics you may have come across that we offer or can simply answer questions about.
Elroy is the man behind the scenes; writing posts, checking status of servers, managing networks and endpoints, and enjoying coffee in his favorite spots in Lakeland and Winter Haven, FL.