As times become more and more uncertain, the importance of cybersecurity and high-quality IT training become more apparent. Companies trying to do more with less struggle to cover their bases, and finding the resources they need isn’t always easy.
To delve further into this in the midst of a pandemic, I spoke with Tracey Grace, the president and CEO of IBEX IT Business Experts, a company that specializes in IT solutions and IT training. Recognizing the strains and threats on networks while so many businesses are working from home, her company recently partnered with Verizon Wireless to offer an Network Detection and Response product.
During our talk, she discussed the impact we can expect from employees working from home and what it means for future business once COVID-19 has passed.
Insights from a Tech Expert
Kimberly Zhang: We all know cyberattacks have increased in recent years. Why are so many companies still missing the mark when it comes to security?
Tracey Grace: The end user is the first line of defense and the most common point of intrusion. You’ve got to utilize every tool in your bag to prevent attacks, and even then, you will still have areas of vulnerability. End-user awareness is the best form of prevention.
Zhang: It’s obvious businesses can’t just rely on software to stop hackers. What can they do to prepare employees?
Grace: By providing ongoing and creative training and awareness for all corporate users — by this, I mean any employee or partner that accesses your corporate IT or related system — you will not only minimize intrusions, but also provide guidance on what to do and how to spot an attempted security breach.
Training cannot just be an annual thing. Companies must have someone in charge of information security and ensure that it aligns with the corporate marketing and culture and normalizes security as a way of life. This should become a new normal.
Zhang: More people are at home right now, working remotely and living their lives online — clearly heightening the need for better security. Do you see this shift continuing after the pandemic?
Grace: Employees will start demanding a more flexible work environment and utilize that in job negotiations. To attract top talent, basic benefits will no longer be enough. Everyone is concerned with total quality of life.
Security needs change based on the size of or company. A large enterprise will have different requirements than a small business, but both are equally important. We have learned that small businesses providing support to larger businesses often act as an entry point of vulnerabilities. That means enterprises subcontracting to small businesses must take a vested interest in the security of the firms that support them and incorporate certain standards into their service-level agreements (SLAs).
Zhang: If employees who’ve tasted flexible work want more, how will businesses have to prepare? What expectations do you see changing for employees?
Grace: Many companies were averse to their employees working remotely. They thought productivity would decrease and didn’t prepare for COVID-19. They had to scramble to get laptops and the infrastructure prepared for mass teleworking, and many are still making adjustments. My hope is that the same organizations will understand the benefits of teleworking for the environment and the overall happiness of their employees and figure out ways to strike a balance.
Zhang: What’s the single best set of recommendations you can give business owners to simplify, yet strengthen, their approach to security moving forward?
Grace: Get with your HR team to see how you can leverage what you have gained. Talk to your staff and get their feedback: Did they like teleworking? Is it an overall or individual preference? Believe them! If they want that flexibility continued, figure out a way to provide some teleworking opportunities. It doesn’t need to be 100 percent remote, but find a happy medium and reward good performance with the things that matter to them, not to you.