In mid-March, our nation suffered an unexpected and catastrophic situation that has had a profound impact on our daily lives, and left us feeling uncertain about the future. In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, schools, shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes and other establishments have closed, and at the time of writing, there is no clear indication as to when life will resume and we can begin to regain a sense of normality. As a result of these closures, businesses have been severely disrupted and, in some cases, have already filed for bankruptcy. Those that are currently still surviving are desperately trying to continue trading, with staff having to work from home – a significant number for whom this is a first.
There will be a time (hopefully in the very near future) when things have settled down, the lockdown is lifted, and people will return to their offices. Many companies, however, will find themselves in quite a predicament with their IT systems – especially their data – and will be in need of business IT support. Having worked in the legal sector, I have first-hand experience of the challenges of managing and securing sensitive data. Ensuring that data is stored in a secure environment, that its access is managed and that it doesn’t become compromised is a tough job at the best of times. Imagine how this is amplified when your workforce is dispersed and connected to potentially insecure networks. And if they didn’t have those systems for managing data in the first place, how did they transfer the information they would need to work on remotely? Copying to a USB stick? Opening Dropbox accounts? Using Apple iCloud or Google Cloud? And once staff come back into the usual working environment, what will have happened to all that data? Where is it? Who has it?
Ensuring you understand where corporate data is and how it’s secured is more important now than ever. I only wish that 15 years ago the technologies like encryption, data loss prevention and other mainstream products were as accessible in the small and midsize markets as they are today.
With the COVID-19 situation, there was a two-week period when most companies were working frantically to get their employees up and running for remote working. For our team here at Clovertec, this involved staff who had never worked from home before, and historically only had access to desktop machines at the office. So, not only did we need to set up remote working connections, we also had to source a large number of laptops. Literally overnight, we saw stocks depleted and prices increased in the distribution channel. Despite this only lasting a relatively short period of time, the supply chain is not yet fully recovered.
Once VPNs were set up and remote-control technologies deployed, our employees then had to think about how they worked. We saw data copied to USB drives, discrete copies of the same documents on multiple machines and even the need for continuing to want the printing of certain documents. Yes, I’ve seen all that take place – and this brought me to thinking about how we’ll be returning to Business as Usual (BAU).
I feel that there is a huge amount of work ahead of us, particularly when it comes to understanding how businesses have handled their data in these challenging times. Standard operating processes and other routine procedures as well as other business IT support could have been overlooked in the interest of “getting the job done,” and ensuring that business could continue as usual.
But what does this mean from a data management point of view? How many versions of files are in circulation and which is the master copy? Is the data that’s stored in secure locations protected by encryption? Are existing data loss protection policies in need of a review and updating? Where did all those USB drives go, and were they checked out and logged against the person taking them, to then be checked back in again? And because there was a frantic buying of new machines, have they been asset-tagged and loaded with all the correct security applications?
Now is a good time – in fact, probably the best time – to step back, take stock and look at your estate, policies and processes, and make some decisions about how you will safeguard your data for the future operation and future growth of your business.
Clovertec can help you do this with our business IT support and other solutions. Get in touch with us here to start making the best possible BAU preparations for your business today.