Pratum Blog

What to do about cybersecurity when employees return to the office after COVID-19.

After months of working from home, businesses are starting to consider the return of employees to the office. While there are health concerns being considered during this decision-making process, there are also security considerations that need to be addressed. We’ve put together a list of cybersecurity preparations organizations should start to make now, before they head back to the office.

Why Does Preparation Matter?

You may think heading back to the office would be as simple as grabbing your favorite coffee mug and preparing for morning commutes again. However, the sudden migration of employees from a secured office environment to a home office was no small feat. The transition from home to the office won’t be simple either.

Knowing where to start and how to prepare is key in ensuring the security of the business once people start returning. Being able to prepare now will allow for a smoother switch when the time comes. Your business is only as secure as the employees working for you, so their participation in these steps will be critical to a safe return.

Social Distancing Desks

While this may be due to health concerns, it will have an impact on your office space and devices. If you need to reorganize your work spaces to allow for more distance between employees, you also need to map out where computers and other devices will need to be set up.

Consider creating a floor plan and marking where each employee will go. Talk to your IT department about what adjustments need to be made to the current infrastructure to allow for more space between employees. Let employees know about any relocation coming. Planning ahead and knowing where everyone will be located once they return to the office will help the process be less stressful for the employees and management.

System Scans

Another process you should be preparing for now is scanning any devices that were used for work purposes and are being brought back into the office environment. A full system scan will help detect any threats or security risks that may have been introduced while away from the office. You want to make sure these devices are clear and secured before reintroducing them to the actual network.

Make a list of any and all devices that will be coming back to the office. Make a schedule of when each device will be returning. Then decide how you want to handle the reintroduction phase.

Bring Materials Back

In addition to computers, employees also need to consider what else they brought home that needs to come back to the office. That includes portable media devices, like USB sticks or external hard drives with company data. Remind your staff that anything used for business purposes needs to be returned to the office.

Not only do they need to bring back what they took, they also need to bring whatever they’ve created at home. If documents were taken home or printed, they need to be returned to the office for either filing or shredding.

Also be sure employees are removing any documents or data from devices that will not be returning to the office. It’s important that no business information is left floating around on someone’s home hard drive.

Update Remote Working Standard

If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to review your Remote Working Standards. This is a list of acceptable use and other rules the organization deems as valid and approved for remote working. That can include who employees need to talk to about working remotely, and more technical controls.

Technical Controls:

  • VPN Connection
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Virtual Machines (VMs) or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
  • Patching software, systems, and infrastructure level as well as workstations

You should also examine any other controls that were loosened or changed during this time of transition. Make sure those are reevaluated before returning to the office.

Communicate Every Step

While this time of uncertainty has been difficult on everyone, it is important to instill confidence in your employees by clearly communicating how the process back to the office will work. Clear direction and open lines of communication will help create a more secure environment, and more comfort for employees.

If you have any questions about the steps listed here, feel free to reach out to a Pratum representative today!

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