As the world entered into the year 2020, little did anyone expect what was coming in the New Year. Started off in Wuhan city in China, the new Corona Virus hit the world, creating havoc across the globe. By the time anyone can assess the intensity of this pandemic, nCOVID-19 already claimed thousands of lives. According to the Worldometer, the total Corona virus cases stand at 3,221,029, claiming 228,252 lives, as of 30th April, 2020. Owing to the lack of a vaccine for this dreadful virus, every country has imposed lockdown to break the virus chain.
The Corona virus and the subsequent lockdown has brought a sudden change to the human lifestyle. Being at home, the only respite for people is their mobile phone. Whether you want to watch a movie, play a game, perform financial transactions or watch latest news, smartphones have become the first option. As such, telecom operators are experiencing a huge surge in the network traffic.
To maintain business continuity, organizations have moved to a work-from-home environment. However, the work-from-home approach brings new headaches to organizations in the form of cyber threats. With minimal protection, smart phones become vulnerable for a variety of cyber threats.
At CloudTern, we are equally concerned about your network security and business continuity as we care about your IT solutions!
Here is a six-point formula to maintain business continuity in these pandemic times.
1) End-user Security
- Educate your Employees: While most businesses focus on securing IT networks, it is equally important to educate your employees about the dangers of cyber threats and train them on how to securely access networks while keeping their devices secure.
- Security Solutions: It is important to install the latest security solutions suite on the laptops, smartphones or tablets employees use to access business networks from home. If you already have one, it should always be up to date. It should include anti-virus, firewall and device encryption.
- Auto Update Apps: All the apps installed on the device should be up to date. You can turn on auto update so that it automatically installs the updates.
- Secure Wi-Fi Passwords: It is highly critical to secure your Wi-Fi connection. Create a strong password and frequently change it. Make sure it uses the WPA2 encryption.
- Use secured systems: Always be sure to log into your account from a secured device. Don’t just turn on your home device that your children use. Log out of your account when you are not working. Say a strict no to accessing a network from a public network.
- Be alert with Phishing scams: Don’t reply to any emails or SMS with your login credentials. At the same time, be careful while clicking links in emails. Make sure that the site is encrypted when sharing financial information.
2) Business Network Security
As end users access business networks from different locations and devices, it is important to secure the business end as well.
- Security solutions in place: A work from home network implies that a variety of computing devices will be accessing business networks. As such, you should take extra care to secure your networks. Installing the latest security suite with anti-virus, firewalls, encryption methods etc. is the key. In addition, ensure that IAM systems are in place.
- Virtual Private networks: Using a secure virtual private network is highly recommended. A VPN service will encrypt the data, securely transmits it through the VPN tunnel and decrypts it at the receiver’s end. It also masks the user IP address and the location. As such, hackers will find it tough to identify user details or access the data. If your organization already uses a VPN service, check if you have the available volume to accommodate all users. For small and medium businesses that doesn’t use a VPN, it is important to choose the right VPN service. Avoiding the free ones is recommended.
- Multi-factor authentication: As end users login from multiple devices, implementing a multi-factor authentication system is recommended. A multi-factor authentication method adds an extra security layer on top of your login credentials. When you enter the username and password, you also need to provide an OTP number or a MFA device such as a virtual MFA, real MFA device, U2F security key, display card device etc.
- Data Backup and Recovery: During this lockdown period, chances are that your network might get into trouble. As such, make sure that data is backed up in regular intervals and critical data is secured with extra care. Update disaster recovery programs as well.
3) Business Continuity – Moving down the Centralised Hierarchical Structure
While securing the networks is the first concern, it is equally important to keep your business processes up and running. According to S & P Global ratings, the coronavirus impact is going to bring down global growth rate to 0.4% in 2020 and this value is expected to rebound to 4.9% in 2021. The supply chain disruptions across the globe are significantly impacting B2C as well as B2B organizations to a greater extent. As such, efficiently managing your workforce is the key. Centralized hierarchical system might have worked well in a structured environment. However, the lockdown that resulted in physical distance means that you’ll have to trust your sub-ordinates. So, decentralize your work force and assign temporary roles to every one with a central monitoring system to maintain business continuity.
4) Keeping in Touch
The Coronavirus lockdown has disrupted the business structure but not the business communications. It is important to keep in touch with all your customers and all stakeholders of the organization. Try to send at least an email or an SMS once in a week enquiring about their health and safety and offer tips on how to better manage their time. For instance, a healthcare institution can offer safety measures to avoid Corona and tips to boost immunity levels. A travel agency can offer a virtual tour of an exotic location or a top 10 list of best movies to watch in that week. This lock down is great time to build the right rapport and trust with your customers.
5) Create New Opportunities
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going” – John Thomas
During these pandemic times, most people are worried about their business. However, the tough not only keep their business up and running but they also create new opportunities out of it. For instance, the healthcare industry is working hard to provide proper care to patients. At the same time, healthcare institutions can take advantage of healthcare bots to offer self-service option wherein a digital care assistant can provide the required medical information, support and guidance to its patients. In addition to patient engagement, bots can route calls to the right healthcare professional for an instant a better care.
OneRemission is a chatbot that interacts with cancer patients and helps them with their diet, exercises and post-cancer lifestyle. Ada Health is another software bot that uses AI to assess user health based on the indicated symptoms. Organizations with low business rates can take this time to create software bots to better engage their customers and increase sales.
6) Post-Lockdown Planning
The constant rise in new corona cases across the globe makes it uncertain to predict when the business world will return to its normalcy. Most businesses are hugely impacted by the pandemic which is sure to affect the running projects, the client base, finances, workforce etc. As businesses have gone through both worlds, it is now important to have a post-lockdown business plan in place as the business will not be the same for the coming 1-2 years.
Organizations that quickly realign their strategies to meet changing business environments are sure to stay in the competition in the coming days!