As companies navigate the changes of a post-pandemic world, one thing is here to stay: remote work. For some organizations, this means full-time remote teams working anywhere, anytime, while for others it means a combination of at-home and in-person operations.
Regardless of the form, the function speaks for itself. Remote work can reduce the risk of operational interruptions. For many companies, the move also provided ongoing productivity improvements. Staff saw benefits from the shift. Recent research found that 91% of employees would like to continue working from home at least some of the time, even when offices get back and up running.
The challenge to this ongoing remote work reality, however, is security. While working from home is convenient, quick and comfortable, increasing disparate endpoints combined with lacking physical controls can open the door to accidental vulnerabilities or malicious cyberattacks. As a result, it’s critical to create a robust and reliable backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan for remote workers.
The Risks of Remote Operations
Of IT professionals, 54% believe that remote workers pose a larger risk to security than those in-office — but are they right? Recent data backs their concerns. In fact, 45% of staff admit to reusing passwords on corporate networks. More than 50% don’t password-protect their home networks. Over 90% use employer-provided devices — such as tablets, smartphones or laptops — for personal activities.
All three introduce potential risks. If reused passwords are compromised, attackers could gain access to secure corporate servers and carry out exfiltration or ransomware attacks. Unprotected networks increase the risk of man-in-the-middle (MiTM) attacks or malicious payloads that may go unnoticed. The use of corporate devices for personal use could introduce compromised apps or services into the business IT ecosystem.
These risks carry real consequences. Nearly one-fifth of companies have experienced a security breach in the last year. Further, 40% to 60% of small businesses will go out of business after experiencing a major data loss.
The right BDR plan can help reduce these risks. It should include:
- Operational assessment: Before designing and implementing a new BDR framework, consider your existing plans and policies. Are your recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) reasonable and up to date? Can you meet them using current backup and recovery solutions? If not, start from scratch with an analysis of current staff distribution, common failure points and critical backup controls.
- Reliable data backups: Data backups are critical to better ensure operational consistency in the event of a security breach or power outage. Your best bet is to leverage a solution capable of backing your data in multiple locations automatically. This might include local company servers, those in collocated datacenters and in the cloud. While not all data needs this level of backup support, it’s worth deploying for connected employee devices to reduce the risk of essential data loss that could derail current projects.
- Secondary connections: What happens if primary Internet connections fail? With so many professionals working remotely, even temporary interruptions can play havoc with productivity and performance. To help mitigate the impact of potential disconnects, it’s a good idea to implement secondary connection solutions — such as using smartphones as hotspots to connect to corporate VPNs — that make it possible for staff to continue working on critical tasks.
- Emergency incident response: In some cases, operational issues are beyond your control. What happens if employees are forced to evacuate their homes and remote workspaces, due to a natural disaster or public emergency? “Bug-out bags,” which include work devices, extra power supplies, cables and other relevant accessories can reduce stress on employees if they’re required to move and shorten the amount of time they’re away from work.
Ready to boost your BDR? Read the accompanying resource, ideal for IT professionals, for more tips on reducing the remote work risk.
Joanna Sobran is President and CEO of MXOtech, a provider of IT services in Chicago. Sobran has unique and vast experience in the IT industry. For more than a decade, she has focused on delivering a high-level customer experience with innovation. She has created a niche for MXOtech by approaching each client’s business individually, with creative technology solutions crafted specifically to address its issues. Whether it’s through using better technology solutions, improving operations or education, Sobran treasures her clients and truly cares about their success.