Remote Work and Cybersecurity

At the beginning of 2020, many organizations had no plans for a remote workforce, doing just fine with the traditional in-the-office setting. Then the pandemic hit and the COVID-19 crisis forced those companies to adopt and embrace remote work strategies.

The sudden rush to get employees set up to work from home also uncovered wide data security and privacy gaps from drastic, haphazard, unsecured adoption of remote collaboration tools like Zoom, Hangouts, and others– not to mention outdated business applications and legacy ERP systems exposing networks to increased risk since these systems were designed for internal network access and not remote, unmanaged access by various devices.

Today, companies must consider what new and perhaps still unknown risks remote work has revealed and whether their 2021 enterprise data security and privacy programs are strong enough to keep them on a path to reach their business goals.

Cybersecurity an Immediate Priority

With more people working remotely than ever before, cybersecurity is a primary consideration for businesses worldwide. International and domestic cyberattacks are regular news headlines and organizations are increasingly extorted through ransomware, malware, and socially engineered data breaches by criminals attracted to newly accessible, potentially unstable systems.

Since it is a more cost-effective strategy to prevent cybersecurity emergencies than recover from them, it has never been more critical for businesses and organizations to review their existing system protections carefully. Through 2021 budget planning, more companies are making cybersecurity reviews a top priority, dedicating resources to improving systems, training staff, and identifying operational weaknesses that open the door to hackers and other cybersecurity issues.

Where to Begin?

Following the unprecedented switch to remote work in 2020, many organizations have struggled to upgrade and improve their existing ERP systems to increase functionality and adapt to the risky influx of individual employees accessing organizational applications through unsecured personal networks and devices.

However, data breaches and subsequent fraud can destroy a business, shattering consumer trust and resulting in long-lasting damage to brand reputation. A strict data privacy policy and a secure information management system are essential to maintaining a perimeter of cybersecurity defenses. Starting with an integrated systems management cyberdefense through the organization’s ERP software solutions, sensitive personal and financial data can be centrally monitored and secured with access restrictions and user authentication strategies.

Consulting with industry-specific ERP and cybersecurity experts can help protect business management systems and the resulting increase in data security makes it a reasonable investment.

Control and Monitor Access

Data management and security depend on monitoring and controlling what devices and users can access organizational systems remotely. VPN authentication can be a critical component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, but it shouldn’t be the only tool used to keep business data secure.

Once a device is authenticated, the VPN tool stops functioning as a security measure. An ERP solution must allow an organization to accurately monitor the activities of devices authenticated by the system, providing a real-time record of what data is being accessed by the device and who is using it. User identity verification procedures should be multifaceted, and in-depth Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions can help ensure that only authorized users can maintain access to the systems.

Identifying and Responding to Risks

The first and last lines of defense in any data security system are the users themselves. Equipped with the proper knowledge and skills, users can follow best practices for accessing and managing sensitive data that further reduce the opportunity for vulnerabilities to arise.

Organizations with broad operations and large remote workforces are at increased risk of vulnerabilities. Dedicating financial resources and highly skilled personnel to risk mitigation is critical and effective for preventing disastrous data breaches.

As cloud-based services are on track to overtake onsite data applications in the near future, innovative endpoint device strategies and employee cybersecurity training are at the forefront of security resource planning.

Comprehensive and practical team training on privacy policy, device security, and data management practices should be a part of every organization’s upcoming budget planning, regardless of the scope or focus of business operations.

Cybercriminals are continually working to identify new opportunities to compromise security, and organizations should appropriately respond by standardizing routine cybersecurity education for all employees.

Investing in the Future

While some industries across the U.S. are slowly beginning to return to in-person operations, others have seen the benefits of remote work as the logical path forward. This requires that companies invest not only in secure hardware technologies but that they invest in secure ERP software solutions and comprehensive employee education.

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It only takes one breach to damage an organization’s reputation catastrophically, but forward-thinking preventative investment and planning can ensure a business is securely meeting the data privacy needs of its customers, staff and stakeholders.

Focusing on the growth of your business requires the latest ERP features and security enhancements to keep you protected. That’s why it’s vitally important to implement the right ERP system with the right technology partner. Contact one of our ERP experts for your specific industry and get the answers you need.

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