Additional Tech Considerations as You Reopen

The following was published in the June 7, 2020 editions of Foster's and Seacoast Sunday.

Following up on my last column two weeks ago titled “Preparing your tech to reopen,” I’d like to share some additional recommendations to be sure your technology is not compromised in any way.

Review all technology that you may have deployed to make the rapid and unexpected pivot to have your staff work from home. You may have sent company owned assets to your employee’s homes or you may have allowed employees to work on their personal computers connected back to your office systems. You may also have purchased new software licenses for collaboration or video conferencing solutions. As people come back into the office, will all these licenses still be needed? While many of these costs are nominal, it’s easy to forget about them and suddenly you may have ongoing monthly expenses that are not necessary.

As you return to the office, it’s important to identify any gaps you may have exposed. These may point out deficiencies that need to be addressed, should you have to pivot to remote work again. These gaps may also be business process related, providing an opportunity to evaluate your business processes from a new context. Often such reviews lead to operational improvements. Don’t miss this opportunity to examine your processes and look for improvement opportunities.

Don’t forget to be sure your office systems, which may have been idled for the several months of remote work, are up to date with their maintenance routines. Be sure patches are current and the system has been reviewed for any potential vulnerabilities before putting them back into service.

As I mentioned in my last column, for those employees who will continue to work from home be sure you a plan. Those people working from home should be doing so on company owned and managed systems. These should be properly segregated from the rest of the computers in the home, so as not to put the work computer at more risk to vulnerabilities that are common on unmanaged networks.

Hackers are more active at present than perhaps at any time in our past. The multitude of people working from home presents a rich target opportunity for hackers. You can be sure that many hackers are actively looking to compromise home systems for the purpose of infiltrating a company network. Work with your IT partners to ensure your remote teams are working securely.

Evaluate your disaster recovery and business continuity plans. Identify any issues or gaps and make improvements based on your real world exercise of trying to maintain operations while your office was forced to close. It could happen again if a bad second wave of COVID-19 develops in the future. You want to be prepared for that, while hoping it will not happen. As my mother always said, “It’s better to have a plan and not need it than need a plan and not have it.” Wise words.