Business

The Pandemic Reshaped How We Think About Business Continuity

Stephen Ritter is Chief Technology Officer at Mitek, a global leader in mobile deposit and digital identity verification solutions.

The global onset of the coronavirus earlier this year, and the stay-at-home orders that soon followed, forced businesses everywhere into new and uncertain territory. How was an organization expected to continue functioning — never mind remain profitable — if its customers and employees alike weren’t allowed to leave their homes?

Some organizations offered full- or part-time remote work policies prior to the pandemic, and those organizations often had a considerable advantage over their strictly on-premises peers. With the sudden and near-overnight switch to fully remote work, business was like nothing the world had ever seen. And, while we’ve had some time to adjust since the initial shock, Covid-19 is re-shaping how many organizations plan for business continuity in the future.

Virtually every company will still benefit from improving their use of technology to strengthen business continuity planning. First and foremost, that requires wide-scale investment in cloud-based technologies to support infrastructure anywhere in the world. It also means taking another look at the hardware, network bandwidth and security required to support employees operating remotely. The first wave of Covid-19 won’t be the only time businesses face these challenges, and consumers will come to rely on organizations that are prepared to safeguard against future disruptions and downtime.

A Nail In The Coffin For On-Premises Systems

Cloud-based systems are not a new concept; the business world has largely been transitioning to either full or hybrid-cloud for years now. Whereas the transition away from on-premises systems in the past was a choice spurred by convenience, cost or efficiency, the coronavirus made it an absolute necessity.

In a recent survey from Insight, 49{d05f388fa08f4d675a822acf1486e94712302178bac778b4b99d28e44a90be3a} of IT professionals reported their company’s IT priorities had been highly impacted by the pandemic. More specifically, the adoption of cloud-based services increased by 12{d05f388fa08f4d675a822acf1486e94712302178bac778b4b99d28e44a90be3a} among experts in the wake of the coronavirus. Operating on-premises is no longer an option in the era of virtual work.

Beyond managing technologies remotely, cloud-based systems offer another important benefit. The coronavirus has left entire industries on unsure footing, and businesses may need to quickly scale up or down to meet fluctuating demands over the next few months amid market uncertainty. Cloud infrastructure like AWS’ Elastic Compute Cloud allows companies to quickly spin operations up or down and pay only for the resources needed at that time — rather than paying high costs all the time to prepare for the few situations when max resources are needed. That flexibility will be especially important as businesses factor financial concerns into business continuity plans in light of the massive market disruption created when Covid-19 first struck.

Take Office Security Home With You

There’s a reason companies hire security professionals to help manage their networks — the average employee has little to no idea how to handle it themselves. Unfortunately, with staff working from home, their personal networks are vulnerable to attack. In fact, nearly 25{d05f388fa08f4d675a822acf1486e94712302178bac778b4b99d28e44a90be3a} of workers are unfamiliar with their at-home device’s security features, and over 1 in 4 of those employees experience Wi-Fi disruptions, which can limit the efficiency of their antivirus software. And that means any sensitive business information shared on those networks can be exposed to outside attackers.

With remote work policies likely to continue long after the current pandemic is over, companies need to plan and invest in the supporting infrastructure now to keep remote employees and data secure. The need for remote network security is just as important for small retailers as it is for multinational corporations — even boutique shops are vulnerable to fraud, and leaked customer information can be a death knell.

So how can businesses secure employees’ home networks without direct access? One option is setting up a company-wide remote access virtual private network (VPN). A VPN allows workers to access their company’s office network from anywhere, meaning they can securely access, manage and update files on a private system without leaving the information vulnerable on their home networks.

And although VPNs aren’t necessary for employees to access a corporate network, they are required for accessing cloud resources a company has set up. As businesses shift to build more of their infrastructure in the cloud, that means virtual private networks will play an increasingly prominent role in remote work. The good news is most remote access VPN offerings won’t break the bank, so even small and mid-sized businesses can make the technology an affordable part of their new business continuity plans.

Despite all the challenges Covid-19 has thrown at us, it’s taught us an important (if painful) lesson about the many aspects of day-to-day business we’ve taken for granted. We can’t predict what the future will bring, but businesses need to re-examine how they approach business continuity. Remote access and cloud infrastructure technologies, and a much more robust approach to home-network security, all need to become standard investments for companies if we’re going to be prepared for the next crisis. And by taking steps to establish those technologies today, we’ll be much better prepared for tomorrow.


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