As the nation slowly transitions back to normal, you’re excited about reopening your business. You’ve bought the snacks, dusted off your favorite coffee mug, blew the cobwebs off your keyboard, and you’re ready. But is your IT department ready? Things have really escalated in the IT world since COVID19 hit, and cybercriminals have ramped up their efforts tenfold to take advantage of remote workers and lapses in cybersecurity. Preparing your IT department for reopening your business is a matter of checking things twice, rethinking your plans, and adjusting your strategies.
While You Were Away
You might have felt like you were on an extended break of sorts, but hackers were not resting up. In fact, statistics show that cyberattacks rose by 37% in March of 2020.
Why such a drastic increase?
Many hackers targeted remote workers. They used disinformation to spread malware though emails and social media links, focused on unsecured networks and devices, and took advantage of remote teams’ lax attitude about cybersecurity. New BYOD trends, meant to make life easier for remote workers, opened doors for hackers and cyberattacks across the nation. Email best practices were forgotten, password renewals fell short of recommended requirements, and if your employees had work-issued devices, chances are pretty good they were using them for personal reasons during the day.
Added to this is the fact that employee Wi-Fi may not be as tightly secured as that in your office, employees’ families may have used work devices, and files may be stored on unsecured machines and devices…this entire crisis has been a hacker’s dream come true.
Now, your employees are ready to come back to work. Preparing your IT department for reopening your business is going to be a bit tricky.
Preparing Your IT Department for Reopening Your Business: Bring This Team Back First
Your IT department should be the first ones back to work. They will need to run assessments and updates, including:
- Network diagnostics
- Event Log monitoring
- Security patches
- Software updates
- Firewall checks and updates
- Backup and recovery testing
These are just a few of the items on your IT Department’s To-Do list. (Want to give them an edge? Download this free Network Preparedness Checklist for them to reference)
Tip: It’s important to let your IT teams come in a day or two early to run tests and check the status of your cybersecurity platforms before allowing your employees to log in for the first time.
Prepare for Some Hiccups
Your employees have become comfortable working remotely. They need to transition back to the office, and they will be facing some IT challenges of their own.
Preparing your IT department for reopening your business means understanding that they will be overwhelmed as your employees log in for the first time.
Your employees won’t be prepared for the delays they face when they first start up their computers. These machines will be far behind on software updates and security patches and will need to update before they can be safely accessed by employees. As anyone facing a “Preparing Windows for Updates” screen knows, this is a frustrating productivity killer; your IT department will most likely face phone calls from impatient employees wanting to get right back to work.
Forgotten passwords may result in software and computer lockouts; remember these passwords may not be the same ones they were using while working remotely. They may decide to update all passwords for security reasons, adding to the frustration.
Tip: Help your IT department in these hectic first days by communicating expected delays to all employees and encouraging them to “sit tight” during these delays.
Here’s a Ticket, There’s a Ticket, Everywhere a Ticket
Your IT teams are going to be overwhelmed with tickets and projects when they report back to the office. A concern when preparing your IT department for reopening business is taking shortcuts to meet the increased demand. Have a meeting with your IT team and let them know that you understand they will be overwhelmed. Ask them what you can do to help them.
Co-managed services may be a great choice in the short term. Co-managed services use talent from an MSP to partner with your internal IT department and help them manage projects, tickets, security platforms, network monitoring, upgrades, and more. Your MSP can handle the testing, event logs, and larger IT concerns while your IT department addresses employee concerns. Some MSPs, like Integris, do not require contracts so you can use your co-managed services to help your IT department get back on track, and choose to continue with the service or not after they have caught up.
Tip: Consider co-managed services to keep your IT department from becoming overwhelmed in the weeks following your reopening.
Ask Your IT Department If Upgrades are Needed
This is a perfect time for your IT department to evaluate your equipment and your network. What changes can they make? Does it make sense to upgrade?
Third-party vendors will be clamoring for your business with lowered prices. You will most likely find heavily discounted equipment; make this investment now before prices rise again. Encourage your IT department to look over contracts and service agreements to find ways you can save money on your IT budget, and possibly upgrade to the latest tech.
Integris’s services include third-party vendor management, and many times an MSP can find equipment and software for far less than your IT department can on its own.
Tip: Not only is this a great time for your IT department to make recommendations about upgrading IT equipment, it’s a good time for you to upgrade your office furniture as well.
Your Business Will Want to Keep Your Remote Solutions for the Office
Your IT department had to make some fast choices to enable your employees to work remotely. Cloud services, such as Teams and the Office 365 suite, provided connectivity and productivity for employees who were geographically separated.
These solutions work in the office, too. Ask your IT department if keeping your remote tools makes sense for your business.
Tip: This is the perfect time to debrief your IT department about their experience supporting remote workers; chances are, the tools your employees have been using for remote work are perfect to bring into the office as well.
Preparing Your IT Department for Reopening Your Business? The Take-Away
Your IT department will be overwhelmed in the days following your reopening. They will be putting out small fires all over the office, while trying to tackle big projects that were put on hold while you were closed.
Integris can help keep them on track with co-managed services, either in the short-term or as a permanent solution to balance your IT team’s workload. We offer plans with coverage and services as vast as the national parks they are named after. We are your guide, keeping your business on the right path to reach the top of the mountains in the distance.
Preparing your IT department for reopening business? Print this 51 point Preparing to Reopen Your Business IT Network Preparedness Checklist to give to your IT team to help them move forward.
Integris is available to help your IT department, including a free, no-obligation IT audit to assess your network’s readiness for reopening your business.
- . Private home networks are usually not nearly as secure as corporate networks; what’s more, employees often work from personal computers that may have vulnerabilities that could easily be exploited by hackers. Allowing employees to work from home longer than necessary could put companies at risk of a data breach.
- Does the company need to make changes to its current IT set-up to adapt to current and future business conditions?
- There are no easy answers to the above questions. Each company will need to carefully assess its workforce, target audience, current IT set-up, and more to decide on the best course of action. However, one thing that every company owner should bear in mind is that IT issues that were previously ignored, swept under the rug, or simply accepted are no longer acceptable. There is a very good chance that the local or even national economy will need to shut down again if the coronavirus re-emerges; this means that a company should improve its remote operations rather than dismantle them. What’s more, customers who have become accustomed to working, shopping, and doing business remotely will continue to do so. To that end, a company will need to upgrade its IT set-up to meet current and future business needs.
- It’s important to take full advantage of the re-opening of the economy to not only assess a company’s IT set-up but also get professional help to make IT upgrades. A comprehensive cybersecurity check could reveal and eliminate vulnerabilities that increase the odds of a data breach. Investing in new services and equipment such as cloud servers, VoIP phone services, updated webcams, and even business laptops for employees could dramatically increase work efficiency while enabling a company to save money on certain expenses. Additionally, a company may need to invest in new office furniture to promote social distancing for returning workers, business partners, and/or customers.