What Have We Learned? The good, the bad and the ugly from the COVID era.

It’s obvious that the COVID experience has changed, not only our World, but also our way of thinking, along with an adjustment in our priorities.  Early on during the pandemic businesses closed and sent employees to work from home, or in some industries, sadly, they simply laid them off.  Individuals fortunate enough to keep their jobs had to adjust to both working from home with its myriad of distractions, while managing their fears, and for some, eventual overwhelming feelings of isolation.  Businesses, organizations, and managers suddenly had to figure out effective ways to communicate with staff, try to maintain ongoing projects and productivity, while creating some sort of Team Synergy, all from a distance.  Then IT Managers were challenged with accommodating everyone’s new remote needs, doing it safely and securely, while simultaneously putting safety protocols in place AND dealing with significant supply chain issues within the technology sector. 

There literally was a scramble to balance the need for social distancing with the need to maintain ongoing organizational functions.  Not fun…it certainly wasn’t “Business as Usual”. In short many organizations and individuals simply were unprepared.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: this is why it’s so important to, not only have a business continuity plan in place, but also to review the plan regularly.

What have we learned?  Bad actors and cybercriminals will literally take advantage of ANY situation – even a worldwide pandemic. According to BusinessWire: “81% of global organizations experienced increased cyber threats with 79% experiencing downtime due to a cyber incident during a peak season.” https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211108005775/en/Cyber-Threats-Have-Increased-81-Since-Global-Pandemic

As employees began working from home cybercriminals unleased a bevvy of Covid-related Phishing Scams.  And, because of the heightened state of fear and general uncertainty, many individuals weren’t necessarily prepared for the attacks and clicked on things they shouldn’t have. Nor did some individuals appreciate the distinction between work devices and personal devices, as a result numerous cyber-compromises occurred.  In all fairness, because a lack of preparedness, along with subsequent supply chain issues some individuals only had their home devices available – the very same devices their kids likely used for school, gaming, social media, plus general youthful online shenanigans. Unfortunately, some families’ personal devices were better secured than others, which means a host of vulnerabilities were discovered very quickly.

Working from home is not without challenges.

At this point, 2 years later, it is a generally accepted principle that work devices should only be used for work, no matter how convenient it is to grab the iPad in your kitchen and respond to an email, etc.  Generally, work devices are considerably better secured against most cyber security pitfalls. And again, at this point, employees should be well equipped with work devices in their “home-offices”.   However, It’s still important to ensure that personal technology is also equipped with the necessary security software, anti-virus and anti-malware software. If you have questions on possible vulnerabilities in your devices, please don’t hesitate to contact your UniVista Account Rep.

Passwords, passwords, passwords.  We now have the challenge of too many passwords across too many devices – that includes both personal devices and work devices.  It’s highly recommended to use a Password Manager to relieve frustration and the constant password reset scenarios.  If you have any questions on Password Management, again please don’t hesitate to contact your UniVista Account Rep.

Secure collaboration and communication tools are now part of a day-to-day routine as many employees continue to work remotely.  Whether you’re using something like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or something else, if not set up properly these tools can have major security gaps.  Individuals should take advantage of built-in security measures like waiting rooms, meeting passwords and participant authentication.  I’m sure many have heard stories about various meetings being hijacked by cyber-trolls. If you have any questions regarding the collaborative or communication tools your organization is using, please contact your UniVista Account Rep.

As the Covid-situation somewhat improves, what is the “New Normal?  While many individuals prefer working from home and enjoy an improved work-life balance, including no commute, employers are also struggling to find a balance.  Some industries and companies have required employees to return to the office, others are continuing to explore the benefits and drawbacks of remote workers.  Others are experimenting with a hybrid scenario of some remote work and some in office work. There definitely has been a bit of a culture-shift and it will be interesting to see what that “New Normal” is.