WannaCry? NotPetya? Locky? Yes I know they aren’t “viruses” per se - don’t ruin my post!

No. this time I am talking about something that doesn’t directly impact your computer at all. I am instead referring to COVID-19 - the currently spreading Coronavirus which looks set to make quite an impact.

PAAAANNNNIIIIC…

No, please don’t! This article is not intended to spread FUD or to be a sales pitch, it is just pointing out a few things and highlighting some activity I’ve seen recently with some clients.

Ok, I’ve Calmed Down Now

Good.

Whilst COVID-19 doesn’t appear to have hit the UK too hard (yet) it does appear to be spreading at an increased rate. If BBC news articles are to be believed, up to a fifth of workers could be off sick at the peak of the virus. This clearly presents a few challenges (to say the least) in continuing to run your business successfully.

Even if your employees aren’t off ill, the chances are you’re going to face a significant uptake in homeworkers in the near future as organisations either voluntarily encourage people to work from home, or worst case scenario, mandatory closures come into effect as they have in other countries.

Remind Me What This Has To Do With Security Again?

Don’t forget the A in the “CIA triad” - availability!

When it comes to security it is all to easy to think about the technical aspects. What if my firewall loses a power supply? What if my comms room floods? What if my DC sets on fire? But don’t forget the soft fleshy things at the end of keyboards that are needed to run these systems. Without people at the helm, things aren’t going to last for too long.

Any disaster recovery plans worth their salt should be factoring in scenario’s whereby people can’t get into the office or teams are taken ill en masse.

The Benefits Of Working From home

I’ve long been an advocate in flexible working and working from home. Fortunately, so is the company I work for - Win! I have everything I need at home to work comfortably without ever needing to step foot in the office. Obviously there are some exceptions such as client meetings and social interaction with my colleagues (which believe me is important - chats with the dog don’t make for great conversation). But from a technology point of view, I’m sorted.

Working from home has the added benefit of reducing the spread of illnesses within an organisation by default. If my team and I were in the office all day, everyday, then I imagine the chances of us all coming down with something like COVID-19 would no doubt be increased (caveat - I’m not a doctor or scientist, it just seems like common sense!). And by nature of people tending to work closely with those in their direct team (and sit together, go to lunch together etc.) I would imagine this exacerbates the issue and makes the spread within a particular team easier. This would no doubt then hit the business harder - one person out of a team, no problem. Two, probably a pain. All of the team? Yeah that’s going to be an issue.

Ok, I’m drifting too far towards FUD territory now. Let’s reign it in a little and just say - working from home clearly has its benefits and shouldn’t just be left until it is a last resort. I’d encourage any organisation to consider flexible working and the benefits it can bring.

Ok, I’d Better Sort Out My Tech!

Funny you say that, I have started to see that with clients. We’ve had some requests for quotes on things such as beefier firewalls to handle higher VPN throughput, or looking at other options for remote working. And this is probably a good time to be thinking about this…

If a large proportion of your organisation suddenly had to work from home tomorrow, are your systems and processes up to coping with it?

If the answer to the above is no, then now may be a sensible time to start whiteboarding what your options are and discussing your disaster recovery plans. The likelihood is that if the virus continues to spread and get worse, it will inevitably start to hit supply chains. So even if you take the decision to beef up your tech further down the line, it could be “too little, too late”.

Summary

This post is genuinely not to be a scaremongering tactic to try and get people to rush out and buy more tech - that is not necessarily the answer. My aim is just to get people thinking - have you made plans for how COVID-19 could impact your business? If not, what are you wasting time reading this for - go and get planning.