Well, the ‘Beast from the East’ has certainly brought snow and chaos to Britain and Storm Emma only threatens to make things worse. Whilst we all love the snow to a certain degree – let’s face it, we don’t get it often – us Brits just aren’t used it. When it does come, it causes major disruptions to road and travel, schools close up and down the country, and everyone starts declaring a ‘snow day’. For a UK business it can present quite a challenge; do you close the office or ask people to take to the roads when it may be unsafe? How do you continue ‘business as normal’ and ensure that work remains productive despite the inclement weather?
Provide a secure way to connect
The answer is to ensure that key members of staff have the ability to work securely from a remote location. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are one way of ensuring that you’re able to do this. A VPN creates a secure virtual tunnel over public internet networks that allow you to connect from a remote location, such as your home, directly to the company network. Using a VPN, you can access data, files, emails and any other information you require to carry out your job ‘as normal’.
Ensure strong authentication
VPNs are not a perfect solution alone, as they are prone to specific security threats, such as phishing and spear phishing attacks. For example, a hacker sends a legitimate looking email to one of your employees and tricks them into installing a keylogger (a malware that records keystrokes and sends them to a remote server the hacker controls). All the hacker has to do is wait for the unsuspecting employee to type in their username and password. Once in possession of valid credentials, the attacker will be able to connect to your VPN as a legitimate user and gain full access to your network, and steal information or cause other kinds of damage.
A strong VPN authentication, such as two-factor authentication, overcomes this issue and is imperative for a layered security strategy. Two-factor authentication requires more than just a simple username and password, it requires an additional piece of information that can only be known to the user. This added layer of security further minimises risk, mitigates against data breaches and enables regulatory compliance. The National Cyber Security Centre advises that all ‘important’ accounts use two-factor authentication and we strongly advise that it be implemented in all cases.
Make a snow day a work day
It’s difficult to know exactly how much severe winter weather costs the UK economy. However, we do know that technology to productively work remotely is now fairly inexpensive and easily accessible. Work can become an activity rather than a place. And a ‘snow day’ doesn’t need to mean a day off.
Many of our NHS customers already benefit from our own two-factor authentication VPN solution, Secure-IT. (In fact, we’ve seen a rise in the usage of Secure-IT during this recent snowfall with our clients reaching record levels of concurrency.) I, for one, am certainly taking advantage of it whilst writing and publishing this news post!