10 “more” security tips for working from home

Just recently, I had a conversation with a friend, who works for the U.S. Navy. She is overwhelmed with work as she teleworks from home because of the Covid-19. Her profession can easily be switched to telework, whereas other coworkers can’t, but that is no reason effective guidance cannot be provided. Here is what she had to say…

With the outbreak of Covid-19, we are dealing with an unforeseen occurrence, a black swan event. As a cyber professional, I hope organizations have a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to initiate along with their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Many do have such plans, but for others, it is abundantly clear guidance is missing. It is not simply about “putting” the language into a document, “checking” the boxes, and copying off SANS Institute’s website. You need an AFFECTIVE plan than can be INITIATED, UNDERSTOOD and FOLLOWED by others.

My 10 Step Program

INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE:

Ensure internet connections work. Test your communication portals like Zoom, Skype, etc. Review security and privacy protocols, especially if you have roommates. Just because you are home, does not mean you be relaxed with security protocols. Consistency ensures efficiency. INVENTORY: Your organization should ensure you have access to the type of equipment you need to work remotely. You may need to take note what you have access to and communicate this effectively with management and make request for items you do not have. CLOUD-BASED CAPABILITIES: To ensure feasibility to the Internet, file-sharing, e-mail and unified communications via mobile applications, chat, etc., the right cloud-based tools need to be available. Check them.

INDIVIDUAL COMMITMENT:

As an employee, before reading up on any guides or joining a Team chat, make a commitment to yourself. This means planning, such as ensuring you cleared a space for yourself, not matter how small. Try to create a home office space, even at the kitchen table. This is your spot. Own it. STAY ORGANIZED: Create a personal “to-do list” each morning. Keep track of the time required (i.e. 8 hrs.). Consider creating your own timecard where you note hours spent on each ticket item. Ensure you have breaks and embrace the flexibility of working from home. But, at the end of the day, ensure you meet your objectives. WORK FLEXIBILITY: With being remote, you have flexibility with your start time and end time. Ideally, if doing 8 hours, you should commit to those hours. However, even I will scatter my time throughout the day or make it up on another day. It is all too easy to work during dinner, and before bed.

*Side note: I personally created my own classical music list off Spotify to ensure no distractions. I’m like a squirrel and can get excited about shiny objects, so my music keeps me on track and closed off to distractions.

COMMUNICATION:

Hopefully, your company has provided you with the right material to work remote. If not, no worries! Be accountable to yourself. You can ensure the chain of communication work. Some workers feel isolated, so it is important for your organization to maintain some sort of social contact with other employees. I suggest, if you have Office 365 or Zoom, to initiate a weekly Scrum Call at the beginning of the week and end. If this is not in place… be a star and create one or suggest it to management. DELEGATE: Embrace delegating. I’ve often come across employees who struggle with this. OVER-COMMUNICATE: Document everything to ensure colleagues are informed and information does not get lost through digital mail. I also create a Weekly Status Update or WSR (can download templates online) for my weekly meetings. I am amazed how organization and accountability and simple note taking can easily impress people.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND ADVANCEMENT:

Take some time for you! Depending on how long you will be teleworking, being closed off can feel like you have fewer opportunities for training and professional development. With Covid-19, I personally think this is a great time for training! This challenge can easily be alleviated by communication between the supervisor and the employee, as well as effective performance monitoring on the part of the supervisor.

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Security-Focused Strategies

On Monday, Microsoft TEAMS app crashed in Europe, driven by an overwhelming number of employees working from home, highlighting the real challenges that companies and employees will face as new work rules go into effect.  Today, we are noticing certain applications being supercharged! Our Salesforce APIs are at lightning speed (pardon the pun!).  

As new guidelines are published almost by the minute to stem the rising tide of COVID-19, one single, unified opinion is that we should avoid unification and ‘stay home’! 

Now is a great opportunity to use these expert guidelines to update your business continuity plans

Many, if not most, corporations have been quick to respond or by now, required by local government to shut down and allow employees to work from home. Bravo! Protect your people first. Here are some of the things to prepare for from a company and employee perspective. 

Checklist for management:

  • CEOs and leaders should be sending communication to customers and employees with their guidance during times of uncertainty for the company. Take care of your people by keeping them informed, safe and define emergency fund allocation
  • Review your telecommuting policy and procedures. Provide flexible work hours to enable employees to find quiet moments to work, and, in the reality of this situation, to give them the time to prioritize family, safety and health
  • Check and implement operation and infrastructure support for remote productivity. This includes software licenses to your critical applications like VPN, Zoom conferencing, GitHub, and Slack services for collaboration and others. Paramount, make sure your security controls are operating to protect from defensive and offensive threats to your logical assets

Checklist for individuals:

  • Review and address your logical and physical workspace obstacles. You may be used to a shared workspace at the office in today’s plug and play world, but sharing a kitchen table with the kids and the cats is an entirely different experience 
  • Talk to your manager to set expectations for your performance measures. Let your manager know what you need to be effective
  • Communicate with your customer and co-workers to offer support and be helpful. Make yourself resourceful. Be helpful. Working remotely may feel isolating. This is normal. Connecting with people globally through different platforms is our new way of life!

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