Are you going back to the office? Here are the 5 major technical problems that await you (and how to prepare for it)

Are you going back to the office? Here are the 5 major technical problems that await you (and how to prepare for it) Cybersecurity

Today, countries are gradually emerging from containment and the emphasis is on returning to the office, at least for some employees. This may seem to mean a drop in IT support intervention tickets for faulty laptops or video call failures. But in reality, IT teams are preparing for a storm of new problems.

And most of these problems are due to our poor digital behavior in terms of teleworking, especially when it comes to securing our devices. But it is not a question of pointing fingers: teleworking has invariably led employees to relax their vigilance on IT matters, perhaps even temporarily forgetting the golden rule of “Think before you click”.

In fact, up to half of employees have admitted that they are taking shortcuts in home cybersecurity. With this in mind, IT professionals anticipate a wave of problems that will spread through corporate networks as soon as employees start coming back with devices riddled with malware and other junk.

After racing to make teleworking safe and efficient, IT teams will see their goal change 180 degrees. It’s about making office work safe again. It will therefore be necessary to fight against the bad habits that employees have adopted at home. Otherwise they will cause a computer nightmare in the office. Here are the problems that will have to be faced, and how to overcome them.

1. Mix work and play moments

Many organizations have seen homeworkers end up on personal devices, blurring the line between Zoom for business and Zoom for aperitifs. In this case, workers are likely to use professional tools in addition to their personal applications such as music and personal messaging – which are much more difficult to control from a security perspective.

Although IT departments also strive to secure personal equipment, it is much more difficult to do than automatically updating or correcting a device in an enterprise fleet. Mick Slattery, president of CompuCom, a company specializing in digital workplaces, explains to ZDNet that the introduction of these devices in offices presents a significant risk.

“These devices pose significant threats given the lack of management, the lack of security guarantees and the potential mix of personal and professional activities,” he said. “It will be essential to ensure that appropriate protocols are in place to isolate these devices when we return to the office. “

Scott Watnik, cybersecurity expert at Wilk Auslander, agrees. Although employees are tempted to use their personal equipment when they return to the office, says Watnik, these devices could be infected with malware, or be connected to insecure networks.

Among the tips he gives organizations to reduce the risks of cybersecurity when returning to work, Watnik suggests playing it safe: “ban the use of personal laptops in the office during the transition period from return at work, at least until all personal laptops have been inspected by IT staff to detect these problems, ”he recommends.

2. Procrastination on security updates

Regarding the devices that will be used in the workplace and to access corporate networks, it is a good idea to ensure that all applicable software patches and updates have been installed.

Rajesh Ganesan, vice president of ManageEngine, tells ZDNet: “People can turn off device security software like antivirus or automatic patch updates, or remove firewall settings, simply because let them slow down their work. “

Who hasn’t already clicked the “Remind me tomorrow” button on an update installation notification multiple times? One solution is to try to tackle the problem at the root, making employees aware that they need to take care of the health of their device, even in a seemingly less formal home environment.

“Instead of procrastinating on the reboot and installation process, employers should encourage proactive management of updates and monitoring the health of users’ devices,” said Cassandra Cooper, analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, at ZDNet.

No member of the IT team looks forward to dealing with late device updates, she said. The gist of the task is to spend ten minutes staring at your laptop screen while installing updates. It will help the IT department a lot if each employee is encouraged to do it on their own.

3. Laptops at home: self-service

Each employee must have been confined in different circumstances, but there is a good chance that the device they use for work was used by someone else at some point in time, for entirely different purposes. .

Whether it’s a teenager who uses Zoom for school, a partner who manages a small online store or a roommate who downloads the film of the evening; our work laptops have certainly experienced unprecedented use. More often than not, however, this means that employees have shared their credentials to open the device, or have completely disabled password authentication.

To mitigate the consequences of these bad habits, Watnik recommends that all passwords be compromised, and immediately demands that all employees change the passwords they have used so far.

In other cases, workers may have connected to corporate networks from another device. In addition to the potential disclosure of their password to another device, this could also pose a risk to the security of the corporate network.

“One of the first things IT staff should do during the transition back to work is to scan the corporate network to identify any new unknown devices used to access the network,” says M. Watnik.

It should also be borne in mind, according to Mr. Ganesan of ManageEngine, that the devices were probably left unattended with sensitive apps open, which can lead to accidental deletion or disclosure of data. “Tracking this (…) is the ultimate challenge for the IT teams who welcome employees back to the office,” he says.

4. Germs – but not only digital ones

A constant concern of the IT teams who will prepare the workplace for the return of employees is to ensure that all incoming equipment is clean, in the physical sense of the term.

Simon Clarke, professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading, explains that smartphones should become a key computing priority – and in particular how to keep smartphones germ-free.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, smartphones have been identified by researchers as a Trojan horse for germs, comparable to toilet seats, because users do not clean their devices regularly.

“People’s attachment to their cell phones will only intensify as they return to work,” Clarke told ZDNet. “But smartphones are a reservoir of germs and have the potential to spread pathogens. Employers need to integrate and encourage greater smartphone hygiene as their employees return to work. ”

Clarke is working with smartphone supplier Bullitt Group on a guide for employers on new habits to promote to employees in the workplace. Among other advice, he advises against the use of mobile phones in public transport when commuting, and the use of the speakerphone function during calls.

In the end, Clarke suggests thinking twice before taking her smartphone out to the workplace. “Is what you are going to use your phone for really necessary?” “; he says. “The handwashing message really worked, but as soon as you take your phone out of your pocket or bag, your hands are no longer clean. “

What is true for cell phones also applies to other equipment that IT staff may need to bring to the office. The consulting firm Gartner, in its advice to companies that reopen their workplace, even recommends building a sanitary area outside the office to ensure that each device is properly cleaned before entering.

5. Office readjustment

From an IT perspective, employees will return to the office with a host of new habits, some of which they will want to keep. According to John Annand of Info-Tech Research, workers will have found new tools to work efficiently, and will be reluctant to give them up – even if they’re not on the IT team’s agenda.

“The nightmare scenario on the infrastructure side is that of the dozens and dozens of applications that people will want to bring with them when they return to the office,” says Annand. “These employees will not want to give up their new efficiency gains just because they can sit at their desks again. “

Before March, however, these tools were not part of the enterprise application portfolio, and IT teams will need to extend backup plans, data loss prevention practices, security audits, or identity management and access to new uncontrolled environments.

“Otherwise, we are sent back to the dark times of the early 2000s, when server and storage administrators systematically said no to user requests for fear that this would disturb their fiefdoms,” adds Annand.

This is not to say that all new habits in the workforce must be accepted. In fact, it will even be necessary to combat a certain number of these habits. With remote work being the new norm, some reflexes related to office work have relaxed, such as signing the exit register and securing laptops when away from an office. In this regard, it may be necessary to re-educate users.

This should be done face to face, not anonymously. Robert Rutherdord, CEO of QuoStar, says that if IT teams have become the “hero” that keeps organizations running during the pandemic, it would be a shame to see that role come back.

“IT teams will need to manage the return to the office carefully and strategically so that they are not seen as the bad guys when they try to control bad habits,” Rutherford told ZDNet. “This crisis has put IT at the heart of the business – it is important that it stays there. “



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