Employee Efficiency in the Remote Workplace

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Employee Efficiency in the Remote Workplace

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in Blog

We are going on 13 weeks since the COVID-19 Pandemic changed the world and in relative terms, the way that businesses operate. Before March of 2020 most companies had a “work from home” policy in place, and employed features like VPN or Virtual desktops to provide this access.

It seems that overnight these policies changed and business management teams had to adapt to the new remote workplace. Networks were not ready for the increased bandwidth needed for an entire remote workforce and IT staff and/or outsourced IT firms scrambled to get secure employee access setup.

What we have learned 13 weeks later is that some teams adapted to a remote workplace much better than others. This could be the result of different factors: home internet speed, environment distractions, ability to focus while home, or a combination of all three. For the most part, our clients were able to adjust rather quickly to their remote “offices” and utilize tools to continue getting their work done. Although it wasn’t the same as working in their offices, some efficiencies were actually gained. We have had numerous interactions with clients where the overwhelming sentiment was: “I’m more efficient at home, there weren’t wasted hours in a commute or chatting with coworkers” and some do not want to return at all.

We believe that this pandemic is going to change the landscape of the traditional workplace for the foreseeable future. There are a number of tools that allow you to gauge your employee productivity as well as remain connected throughout the day. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Sharepoint, and Cisco Webex are a few tools that any small to mid sized business should deploy to help maintain efficiency while remote but also allow management visibility into their remote team.

The Mobile Workforce is here to Stay

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in Blog

Each day’s headlines bring disruptive challenges that require robust technology solutions. Public health emergencies, natural events and political crises can all restrict mission-critical staff from travel or accessing resources at a physical site. To ensure revenue continuity, companies must have the agility to conduct business from anywhere, at any time.

At the same time, companies seek to benefit from increasing staff productivity and retention, as well as minimizing overhead costs of maintaining physical offices, by empowering personnel to work from anywhere.

According to a recent survey of 15,000 businesses worldwide:

• 85% confirmed increased productivity due to greater flexibility

• 65% say flex work helped reduce expenses and manage risk

• 75% consider flex work to be the new normal

• 62% of companies worldwide currently have flex work policies

• Over half of employees worldwide work remotely more than 2.5 days a week

• Over 80% of workers would choose a flex-work job over a non-flex job

• The U.S. economy alone could see a $4.5 trillion boost through flex work

As a result, companies have increasingly relied upon mobile access to resources from both authorized and BYOD devices.

Providing mobile access in today’s anywhere/anytime world, opens an explosion of exposure points over a plethora of potentially insecure mobile endpoint devices.

Human fallibility and risky online behavior mandate that employees cannot be trusted to ensure the security of their own mobile devices.

Moreover, the array of threat types
is expanding, deepening and getting smarter, including targeted ransomware, never-before-seen threats, memory- based malware, side-channel attacks and encrypted threats.

IT must secure access from these mobile endpoints with limited budgets and skilled staff resources. This means streamlining deployment, availability and support to lower total cost of ownership.

Whether for ensuring business continuity or enhancing workforce retention and productivity, secure mobile access
is a strategic business imperative.

SOS Technology Group is here to assist with your remote work policy planning and implementation….

Working from Home Securely

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in Blog

wi-fi security

As the country prepares itself for a possible outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), IT providers are receiving increased requests to setup remote access for their employees. While this technology has existed for some time, there are considerations that should be taken into account when allowing this remote access.

If employees are utilizing their personal equipment to connect to your office environment there are inherent risks: 

  • Infected home PCs/laptops can be compromised with a keylogger which can allow a hacker to access your office network.
  • Certain types of viruses and malware can travel across the Virtual Private Network from your home to your office and infect both networks.
  • Opening corporate email from a personal computer which is infected can give a hacker access to your entire corporate mailbox and possibly other mailboxes depending on your permissions.

Luckily there are methods to protect from these risks:

  • Deploy Multi Factor Authentication on every layer of your remote connectivity
  • Include your personal equipment within a centrally managed antivirus solution
  • Configure Geo IP Filters on your corporate firewalls to exclude foreign country IP Addresses

SOS Technology Group is available to assist your team with Secure Remote Access deployments. 

The True Cost of Ransomware: More than Just Dollars

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in Blog

Ransomware is a dark specter over businesses of all sizes, even governments. Baltimore City fell victim to a ransomware attack this year, and with an estimated cost of $18.2 million dollars, the impact will be felt for some time to come across an already cash-strapped city. While some of the costs are definite, like an actual cash ransom payment, other impacts aren’t quite as easy to pinpoint.

Almost all data breaches have two things in common: 95% of them involved an element of human error, and 90% of them began with a phishing attempt, with email phishing being the primary vector for ransomware infections. Larger organizations and companies can sometimes weather the storm in the aftermath of a data breach, but small and medium businesses are not always so lucky. 72% of data breaches occurred at companies with less than 100 employees, making the SMB space the target of choice for cybercriminals.

What happens after a breach?

On the financial side, the average cost of the ransom itself is $2500 (which is the cost of a good firewall or backup device, if we’re not mincing words). The true costs don’t stop there, however. The overall average annual loss associated with cyberattacks and breaches for the same less-than-100-employee business is $80,000. A full quarter of these related costs are in the form of lost revenue. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why more than half of small business victims become unprofitable only 30 days after an attack that caused permanent data loss. 

The financial impact is not the only damage done in the aftermath. 87% of respondents in a recent consumer poll stated they were unlikely to do any business with an organization who had a breach involving debit card, credit card or bank information details. That is permanent damage to a brand that takes considerable expense to recover from.

Training and Preparedness

We’ve established that 95% of breaches are from human error, and that the best ways to combat human error is training, awareness and planning. Many professional and industry certifications already require some kind of end-user cyber security awareness training, sometimes reoccurring on an annual basis. Re-visiting company policies on internet use simultaneously with security awareness training only heightens the effect on employees, by reinforcing the importance of the rules already in place.

We can’t underscore the importance of continual cybersecurity training and preparedness. We are happy to consult and illustrate the many tools and options available to get your organization up to speed on security.


Password Not Required: Better Security with Less Friction

Written by SOS Tech Group on . Posted in Blog

Everyone knows the frustration of passwords. Creating passwords, resetting them and administering them is a time-consuming process, and 59% of people use the same password everywhere. Passwords change too frequently, and some folks resort to writing them down on Post-It notes. Maybe they don’t change enough, and the same password has been in use for months, maybe years. Over time, they’ve become so dangerous that two-factor authentication, a password plus almost anything else, is basically an industry standard in 2019. 

Passwords also create the largest attack surface for any organization. In 2017, 81% of all hacking incidents were due to weak or stolen passwords. With statistics like that, it seems that passwords alone aren’t enough to protect any data worth protecting. With these endless loops of password related breaches and attacks, attention has finally been brought to the possibility of going ‘passwordless’.

Stated simply, passwordless authentication requires any other verification of legitimate access to data, except for a password. Things like a registered smart phone, fingerprints or voice, questions unique to a user, quite literally anything but a password qualifies. 

The main benefit of password-free authentication is of course security. Without a password, there’s nothing to scam, or phish or steal.  An interesting side effect of going passwordless is that not only is security improved, but the user experience is improved as well. No need to memorize specific text strings that you are likely to reuse across multiple platforms, no more calls to tech support to have a local password reset, & no more waiting for ‘forgotten password’ emails to wait for. 

Reducing ‘friction’, or the time taken to complete a set task, is also an important benefit. Roughly 33% of all online shopping transactions are abandoned because a user simply forgot their password to a retailer’s website. The process of creating a new account, with user name and password, which is likely re-used from another application, is also a type of friction. Once friction is reduced, the process can move forward as efficiently as possible. In the case of password-free verification, not only is it easier, but it is also more secure.

Naturally, there will be hesitance to adopt complete passwordless authentication. It requires a solid IT foundation for any organization, and it does require end-user buy-in and confidence. Password-less authentication would allow for more users to adopt a service or application as they would be able to access a system with more security and minimal friction. In turn, this leads to an increase in end-user adoption or, in the retail example mentioned before, new customer acquisition. Remembering complex passwords that change every so often is a challenge.

As IT progresses, people are getting more and more frustrated with passwords. This approach could prove itself to be efficient and more secure for almost any organization. Implementing a password-less authentication framework spares time and eliminates the disappointment of recollecting yet another password, while increasing security and user confidence.

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