The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled a shift in working conditions, forcing many organizations to move to remote working much faster than they would have otherwise planned. The mad scramble to provide the appropriate hardware, software, and networking resources has led to hasty rollouts, testing IT departments’ limits everywhere over the past 12 months. But while these organizations have objectively succeeded in adapting and enabling adequate remote working conditions, an even greater, more nuanced challenge may be looming on the horizon for IT teams—security.
Faster isn’t always better
With the abrupt switch to remote work, IT teams and CISOs had no choice but to abandon other projects and respond by quickly instituting measures to maintain business continuity in a work-from-home environment. Rather than deploying a long-term WFH strategy or enabling remote work on an as-needed basis, organizations had to react on the fly to allow remote work company-wide as swiftly as possible, disregarding standard due diligence and leaving space for vulnerabilities, and generally more issues.
According to a Gartner survey of over 100 C-level executives and IT professionals, over half of those surveyed said they experienced some “IT pains'' during the rapid shift to support home workers, and nearly a third continue to face technical challenges in their daily working environment. At the same time, over 80% of these professionals expect to prolong remote work policies even after the pandemic.
So what exactly are these modern IT pains, and how can we rectify them?
Fast rollout, slow performance
Forced to bend existing business systems into WFH-capable systems, business users have found themselves working on tools that were not initially designed with remote work in mind.
For example, in many cases, IT teams have been patching remote systems over virtual private networks (VPNs) that have strained under increased loads. It’s safe to say these systems aren’t bulletproof, and performance is, in many cases, frankly underwhelming.
For industries or departments that work with large file formats (files that may be too large for sharing via standard cloud collaboration platforms) such as CAD diagrams, mortgage packets, high-resolution images or video files, lengthy download times can be a significant productivity suppressor. Not to mention, users working on tablets and mobile devices are at an immediate disadvantage, as storage limitations may make it difficult to download or open files.
We can add to the mix the all-too-common tech complications that slow productivity, like unreliable internet connection or limited broadband usage, making downloading large files either impossible or endured with the caveat of added broadband costs.
Beyond simple access to files and information, the hasty implementation of WFH tools has seen IT teams neglecting typical security protocols. Consumed by the goal to get employees online as fast as possible, some organizations may not have prioritized the inherent security risks involved in enabling remote access to sensitive information. Downloading and storing un-encrypted files to local devices without any additional security measures is kind of like someone taking confidential paper files on a train in an open folder–sometimes that folder will be left unscathed, but there’s a serious risk it could wind up in the wrong hands, or lost altogether.
Managing these security risks or adopting the proper tools to manage files securely is not something the end-user should have to worry about daily. Just as security measures are considered a priority for IT teams working on in-office systems or corporate servers, organizations should not expect their employees to implement high-level security measures on their own when working from home.
Collaboration, or lack thereof
Enabling remote work technology is one challenge; figuring out the best way to collaborate on documents with colleagues, teams, or clients when working from home is a beast of its own. With some people using track changes, others downloading and saving new versions of documents, some sending files via email, and others via slack or different collaboration platforms, changes to files get lost in translation, and effective collaboration is mission impossible. Without a centralized tool or clearly defined process and the respective user training on how to properly collaborate while working from home, organizations may quickly find themselves at the wrong end of the evolving performance gap.
Luckily, solutions exist.
The solution: secure viewing software
The ideal remedy is a single solution that can consolidate enterprise information and activity in one place, rather than having several solutions that lead to inconsistencies and lax security. Web-based document viewer software such as ARender can enable organizations to easily share information and documents with their users in a secure, safe way while working from home.
ARender document viewer allows content to be streamed rather than downloaded, so files can be opened fast, eliminating lengthy download times or storage challenges. Documents are rendered accurately without transmitting the original document to the user, removing security risks associated with users downloading and saving sensitive files. This also allows for greater document traceability and complete visibility into which pages have been read, downloaded, printed and sent to or by another user.
With granular user permissions, tools such as redaction can be applied based on specific users, allowing greater control over who has access to what files. Designed for the remote worker, the technology enables fast, easy access to and visualization of documents, all while avoiding the dissemination of sensitive information. Real-time annotations, comments, and editing offer users a central place and method to collaborate on documents, saving time, reducing stress, and making the entire work from home process much more intuitive.
The move to remote work was forced and furious. While the foundation required to support remote organizations has now been established by most companies, in many cases, that groundwork is marked by gaping security oversights. Organizations now face the challenge of filling those holes, which can and should be seen as an opportunity to deploy a new solution that can not only heighten security but ultimately improve company productivity and help streamline collaboration in a work from home environment.