“The business of business is business” goes a quote attributed to economist Milton Friedman.  He makes a solid point, and the normal day-to-day flow of business can lull us into a sense of security. When those disruptions invariably come, perhaps a better quote would be, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”

Business continuity planning is an essential step in preparing for the worst. Whether a disruption is caused by weather events, epidemics, geopolitical strains, utility outages, supply chain disruptions, or cybersecurity attacks, the best way to avoid the adverse effects of a problem is to have a clear response plan. This readiness reduces the anxiety and pressure of the situation and allows a clearer mindset for better response decisions. It also gives clarity to everyone in an organization directing what they should do and when.

We are being reminded of this as word spreads of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Companies are having to respond to concerns about how they will supply their customers and keep their employees safe. In addition, now is a time for additional vigilance as cybercriminals use times of fear and uncertainty as opportunities to prey on companies and individuals when they are distracted, and their defenses are down. We talked about an example of this in our post about the recent coronavirus phishing attempts.

The key to a practical business continuity plan is to enable employees to continue to do their jobs regardless of the circumstances. In the event of disruptors like a fire, flood, or an epidemic, providing employees with the ability to work from anywhere can help reduce the impact on the business. But it has to be done safely. Cybersecurity hygiene and specific technologies need to be in place to support mobile workstyles. Nothing would be worse than an employee being hacked through an unsecured wi-fi connection and the attackers compounding the impact of the disruption with a cyberattack.

Given that 90% of cyberattacks use email as a conduit into a company’s IT infrastructure and that virtually every employee uses email and mobile devices today, securing these areas is of utmost importance.

Technologies Enabling Business Continuity in Times of Disruption

Hosted Exchange

One potential solution is to host your email or Office 365 in an off-site location that is fully redundant and regulated, coupled with email protection services that protect against viruses, targeted attacks, social engineering, and either accidental or malicious data loss from insiders. Not having to acquire and manage this infrastructure provides significant cost savings and is one less thing for the business to be concerned about during a disruption.

MFA and VPN

To enable remote computers and mobile devices so that employees can work from anywhere, a couple of technologies go a long way. The first is the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA), which means that rather than just one password, the user has to provide two or more levels of authentication before they are allowed access to corporate resources. This may come in the form of a hard or soft token or challenge questions that the user must respond to. Another technology is to have the user connect through a virtual private network (VPN). This connection will secure information going back and forth between the user and the company networks.

Mobile Device Management 

Yet another consideration is how to manage mobile devices. Mobile devices need to be correctly configured and have data protection policies in place. If an employee were to lose the device, or the device was stolen, it is important to be able to wipe the device of sensitive information remotely.

Unified Communication

File sharing over remote devices is still another area of exposure for most companies. To address this vulnerability, employees can securely exchange and collaborate on sensitive documents via SharePoint. It also eliminates the need to store documents locally on a remote computer or device.

SilverSky’s Cloud Email and Collaboration solutions provide all of these technologies in a simple to use subscription model so your company and your users can confidently continue to be productive as a part of your broader business continuity plan. Download our Cloud Email and Collaboration solution brochure and discover how SilverSky can solve your corporate collaboration challenges today!

Taking the right steps in business continuity planning and employing the right tools to execute the plan when needed, will reduce the negative consequences and accelerate the return to business-as-usual.

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