COVID Second Wave

Remote work policies helped many companies remain operation even during government instituted lockdowns. Such measures have slowed down infection rates. “Clearly, it’s not safe to have everyone here at the same time; we would run the risk of everyone getting sick at the same time,” says Gary Harlam the owner of Warwick RI Technology Advisory Group.

The U.N disarmament chief notes that the pandemic has pushed the world towards a greater dependence on technology for innovation and collaboration. However, more needs to be done to secure such platforms.

“Cybercrime is also on the rise, with a 600% increase in malicious emails during the current crisis.”- Izumi Nakamitsu, U.N chief of disarmament.

This casts a spotlight on how much companies still need to do to secure endpoints from such attacks. And, with no viable cure or vaccine on the horizon, we may see a second wave of infections.

So, work from home may soon become the new normal, and companies need to do more to secure their employees and systems.

What’s The Most Important Step an IT Department Can Take Today to Prepare for Another Massive COVID-19 Outbreak?

More dependence on technology creates more vulnerabilities that led to increased cyber-attacks. “Nearly 90 countries are still only at the early stages of making commitments to cybersecurity,” ITU (International Telecommunication Union).

As infection rates continue to rise into fall and winter, we may be facing the second wave of the pandemic.

So, companies need to put the lessons they learned from the first wave into effective measures that will help them deal with the coming wave.

Invest More in Home Office Environments

As the covid19 pandemic hits hard, most companies had a rush to secure their revenue streams to ensure their employees still had jobs. However, little to no attention was paid to ensuring that the employee’s work environment is as conducive as their in-office work environment. Sensible System an IT company notes that “Systems MUST be in place for employees working from home as they’re using their own computers to access corporate resources.”

Here are a few areas you could improve upon:

  • Equipment

A good proper desk and orthopedic chair can help employees feel more comfortable working for hours on end on a project. It also gives them the impression that they are working in an office environment. However, such things are not a priority for employees during such a time. So, companies could experience more productivity if they provided supplementary budgets for such concerns.

  • Securing Client Data

“It is estimated that one such attack takes place every 39 seconds.” – Izumi Nakamitsu. Companies are not doing enough to protect consumer data. Most BYOD policies fail to account for the fact that home PC’s are a soft target for malicious cyber-attacks.

The U.N Under-Secretary-General of Disarmament Affairs went on to note that cybercrime is on the rise with a 600% increase in malicious emails during this pandemic. And, since a second wave might result in shutdowns, IT staffs need to ensure company security policies do more to prevent major cyber hacks and data breaches.

  • Reevaluate Continuity Plans

Every well-run organization considers every plausible scenario that could affect their bottom line. The covid19 pandemic has allowed many companies to see the effectiveness of such plans. The lessons learned from the first wave can help your company brace for the impact of the second wave.

  • Assess Supply Chains

Companies need to evaluate their supply chains to get a clear perspective of where potential vulnerabilities may lay. This entails understanding who are your top, second and third-tier suppliers. Such a measure can help companies formulate viable contingencies in case one of their suppliers gets isolated during the second wave.

Why is This Step So Important?

The second wave of coronavirus infections will prolong the uncertainty brought about by the first wave. Fortunately, the impacts can provide the tools for effective worst/best case scenario planning.

“Practicing Effective scenario planning can help you develop effective strategies in a world of uncertainties.” – Dr. Howard Olsen, President of Onstrategy

At such a point, you probably have many questions about how your company will make it through more months of uncertainty. Fortunately, you can reflect on the IT security successes and failures of the first wave to cope better in the future.

Is There Anything Else That Can Be Done to Prepare IT for Another Pandemic Wave?

“Forcing everybody home, often around kids, in shared rooms or bedrooms and no escape socially in non-work time will be generating major mental stress,” notes Nick Bloom, senior fellow SIEPR. This has led to increased cases of burnout, anxiety, and depression.

As the pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, companies need to provide more psychosocial support to ensure their workers stay motivated. Such initiatives include:

  1. More flex time so that employees can tend to their children and the needs of their most vulnerable dependents.
  2. A stipend or allowance could help furloughed workers adjust to the financial constraints occasioned by less work and potential medical bills. Such considerations could also be made to ensure remote workers can purchase all they need to outfit their home offices with suitable equipment. Companies should also provide a monthly stipend to help offset the cost of working from home.
  3. A company hotline with a qualified counselor on hand can provide a safe space for employees to address their anxieties, even those unrelated to work.
  4. Enhance communication mechanisms are essential to ensuring workers can collaborate in a home office as they do while in the office.
  5. Cybersecurity training needs to be more effective and address every department. Cybersecurity is a burden not only for IT chiefs and departments. So, it should include employees from all levels of the company: from the boardroom to the mailroom.

Keep Your Sights on Other Risks as the Second Wave Approaches

The major business conversations by C-Suite executives have shifted to cybersecurity in light of cyber hacks and data breaches to so many major companies. But, it’s not so bleak especially when you consider many data breaches are preventable through basic cybersecurity measures.

Work from home may soon become the new normal as we brace ourselves for a second wave. But having employees in different home offices increase the number of vulnerable endpoints to a system.

Therefore, companies need to do more to ensure that their systems are secure. Moving forward, IT departments need to ensure that all devices with access to sensitive data are managed more effectively.

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