SMBs Face Remote Working Challenges Due to COVID-19

Companies across the world are supporting more and more remote workers due to the increasing restrictions caused by COVID-19. Netskope reported two days ago that the percentage of its users working remotely had already grown by 15 percent since the beginning of the outbreak.

For many small businesses, supporting remote work is a new experience that can present unexpected challenges.

Snow Software CIO Alastair Pooley says companies should make sure they have enough VPN licenses and bandwidth to handle a jump in usage – and should make sure that company phone numbers can be answered remotely, rather than requiring switchboard or front desk teams to work from the office.

And the increase in usage can be significant – a few weeks ago Microsoft had already seen a 500 percent increase in Teams meetings, calling and conferences in China since January 31, and a 200 percent increase in Teams usage on mobile devices.

And as central offices start to go dark with everyone working from home, NCC Group director and senior adviser Tim Rawlins noted in a blog post that it’s crucial to determine what equipment needs to be left on. “For example, Citrix systems may need the local desktop computer to remain on to allow for remote access,” he wrote.

It’s also key to ensure that your internal contact plan or call tree is up to date. “Remember that new joiners may not yet have their details in the system and people move and change numbers, so the contact plan will need to be constantly updated; many systems can be tied to an active directory to help keep it up to date,” Rawlins added.

Security threats

COVID-19 also presents an unfortunate opportunity for cybercriminals, who are already using maps of infections and deaths worldwide to spread Java-based malware. 

“Coronavirus is a formidable and fairly unprecedented opportunity to trick panicking people amid the global havoc and mayhem … even experienced cybersecurity professionals may get scammed by a well-crafted phishing email allegedly coming from a national health authority,” ImmuniWeb founder and CEO Ilia Kolochenko says.

“Organizations should urgently … implement and promulgate a clear, centralized and consistent internal process to communicate all the events and precautions related to the coronavirus pandemic,” Kolochenko adds. “Corporate cybersecurity and security awareness should constitute an invaluable part of such communications.”

And it’s not just about coronavirus-related threats – Securelist recently warned of a new strain of Android malware targeting Facebook Messenger, which could have a particularly severe impact on small business employees working remotely.

“With thousands of employees now working fully remote, security teams must be able to rapidly deploy secure remote connectivity at scale,” Pulse Secure chief security architect Mike Riemer warned. “Without the appropriate enterprise-class tools enabling this growing remote workforce, employees will connect with their teammates using personal apps like Facebook Messenger, despite the serious security risks associated with these types of consumer based apps.”

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