There is no arguing with the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to adjust and change the way they do business. Some of these changes may be not continue post-pandemic but many will in some form or another. Certainly, the way businesses will make decisions about how they go to market, serve their clients, and operate their businesses will continue to be impacted by the pandemic experience.
From an IT perspective, the move to working remotely, the increased use of cloud applications and infrastructures, and mitigating cybersecurity risks, has impacted businesses and led IT Service Providers, such as MicroAge, to adjust the way we provide services to our clients. Their needs changed and we had to ensure we changed to meet these needs.
Let’s talk about the main changes and the impact it has had on the services you receive from your provider.
When the pandemic first hit, over 20 months ago, there was a rush for most businesses to set up work areas at home for their employees so they could remain operational. Some had company PCs and accessories they could take home. For others their personal devices became their work tools. Kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms became “offices”. These offices were shared, not with co-workers, but with children who were attending virtual classes, spouses and life partners who were also asked to work from home and with cuddly pets. While this brought people together as they got to know each other in a much more intimate way, it created challenges.
It’s one thing to have everyone in one environment that is controlled and secure from the infrastructure to the devices and applications used by employees and the accesses provided to them. Even if some employees work remotely or sometimes have to access the network and applications from somewhere other than the office, there was time to set them up properly and securely in pre-pandemic days. Supporting the users had a clear process with a known environment and known devices and applications.
Overnight, that changed.
Suddenly, the devices being used may or may not be company owned. The user may or may not have access to the tools and applications they needed. The accesses to the network may or may not be secure. Lots of unknowns.
For IT Service Providers like us, it was all about ensuring that our clients were operational as quickly as possible. This included sourcing equipment, helping the employees set up their home offices, ensuring accesses to the tools and applications required, supporting the users with implementing new ways of working and of course, doing all of this securely. Pivoting from the known to the unknown and properly preparing, monitoring, managing, and supporting the people and the environment of the clients was an essential element that good IT Service Providers brought to the success of the transition to a distributed workforce.
Imagining how businesses could continue to operate as the pandemic took hold is difficult without the internet and access to cloud applications and infrastructures. Although businesses had to re-imagine how they did things, access to cloud infrastructures, tools and applications kept many businesses operational. Again, as suddenly as working remotely became a priority so did digital transformation to ensure businesses survived.
Applications and solutions like Teams and Zoom, Microsoft 365, Azure, VoIP, and a plethora of others made it possible for businesses to continue to deliver their products and services to their clients albeit differently.
IT Service Providers needed to help their clients get to where they needed to be by understanding their needs and providing and implementing the right cloud solutions.
After an initial short quiet period (we’re guessing cybercriminals were also adjusting to the new realities of the pandemic), cyber criminals came back in full force. They took full advantage of the fear, uncertainty and doubt created by the global crisis. They took advantage of unsecured internet accesses or the personal devices that may not have the next-generation antivirus. They took advantage of the distraction that the pandemic was causing to send malicious messages. Cybercriminals doubled down on their attacks and they continue to get better at their “craft”.
To minimize risks and make clients as cyber-resilient as possible, IT Service Providers had to look at all of the layers of an IT environment from protection and detection to incident response:
- Cyber Awareness Training
- Phishing simulations
- Multifactor Authentication (2FA, MFA)
- Asset management
- Properly configured next-generation firewalls
- Spam filter
- Dark web monitoring
- Penetration testing
- Security information and event management (SIEM) or Security Operations Centre (SOC) services
- Wireless Authentication
- Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) services
- Patch management
- Drive encryption
- Monitoring and alerting services
- Vulnerability scan
- Backup w/offsite replication
- Offline copy of data
- Incident response services
- Business Continuity Planning
IT Service Providers need to understand what your current and future work environments look like to ensure it is as secure and resilient as it could be.
The pandemic caused all businesses to re-imagine the way they service their clients. IT Service Providers were no different. They needed to evolve to ensure their clients are able to operate productively and securely.
Contact us today to see how we at MicroAge can help you.