TechWorx Blog

TechWorx has been serving for businesses, nonprofits, local government and school districts since 2010, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting.

Managing Your Business and Remote Workforce During the COVID-19 Pandemic

working remotely

Companies around the world have or are finding the need to send their workers home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. For many business owners, managing your staff remotely is a brand new paradigm. Here’s what you need to know.

First of all, it’s important not to panic. Many organizations have been offering work-from-home perks for years. Not only is it entirely possible to keep business running, but many businesses see a boost in productivity.

Double Down on Good Communication Habits

Although we’re all supposed to be social-distancing ourselves to prevent our friends and loved ones from spreading and catching COVID-19, communication is still incredibly important. Managers and supervisors need to be kept in the loop from both sides: team members need to report up to them, and company updates need to be communicated downstream. Regularly scheduled department meetings and staff meetings should still all happen. Department heads should check in with their teams regularly.

Of course, business owners may get the intuition to check to make sure their staff is “on seat” and working, but if possible it’s better to show you trust your employees, and address problems with specific staff, have managers focus on them instead of the entire workforce as a whole.

Fortunately, there are plenty of applications available to make communication easier. These range from instant messaging tools like Google Hangouts and Slack, to video conferencing solutions like Zoom, Webex, and GoToMeeting. For businesses that utilize Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams is a solution included with each license. G-Suite users can use Google Hangouts for group chatting and internal conferencing. TechWorx can help you set any of these up with your staff.

One final thought: remember that many of your employees may be feeling pretty isolated, and even lonely. Keeping that structure with regular staff and department meetings can help keep people feeling connected.

Staff can Make and Receive Work Calls from Home

Beyond communicating internally, you’ll likely want your workforce managing the phones even from home. Fortunately, with many VoIP systems, this is relatively easy to do. Every VoIP solution is going to vary a little, but most offer the ability to make and receive business calls from any computer, laptop, or smartphone. It usually doesn’t require additional hardware (other than perhaps a good headset) and it gives your staff the ability to make calls from their work number instead of a personal one.

They still get the same capabilities they would at the office: call recording, forwarding, voice mail, conferencing, and more. The key is they can handle it all from their personal device. Of course, traditional desktop phones and handsets are available too. On top of that, VoIP can often save a little money when compared to traditional phone systems.

If your business isn’t using VoIP, it’s time to consider making the switch.

IT Security is More Important Than Ever

Let’s say you have 25 users and 25 workstations. You control those workstations; you have them monitored and maintained, and you have network policies pushed to them to prevent things from getting out of control. If those 25 users start working from home, suddenly you are contending with at least 25 endpoints that you don’t control.

There are a lot of variables at play here. Who uses the computer at home? Are kids on it? Is it the family computer? What kind of security does it have? It’s impossible to say, but it’s more than likely things aren’t as sterile as they are at the office.

Secure Remote Access via a VPN

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is one of the best ways to protect your company’s data, and it is useful in a lot of scenarios besides just working from home. A VPN allows users to remote into the work network securely from anywhere with Internet access. It encrypts the traffic so data sent to and from the office can’t be intercepted. The VPN also gives users access to all of the applications they would normally have while they are at work.

Upgrade the Free and Consumer-Based Antivirus

Home antivirus solutions aren’t as hardened as centralized enterprise-level solutions. Sure, they do the trick when a family member picks something up while surfing the web, but if your business is trying to meet industry compliance standards, you’ll need something better suited.

You might want to consider extending your company antivirus to home systems that will be accessing the network. This may also include rolling out firewalls to ensure each user has the same security they would normally have while at the office. You’ll want to talk to the IT security experts at TechWorx to determine what you really need to do.

Security Education is Critical

Your staff will still run into the same pitfalls at home as they would in the office. This includes spam and phishing attacks, poor password hygiene, and traditional user error. Make sure your workforce understands the threats out there and how to circumvent them. No amount of security infrastructure is going to stop a user from reusing a password or falling for a phishing email other than training, training, training.

This Pandemic Is a Disaster That Your Business Needs to Overcome

We talk about disaster recovery and business continuity all the time. We always use examples like floods and fires to represent a disaster, but COVID-19 fits the definition as well. It’s disrupting work and putting a huge strain on business in general. Business continuity is more important than ever.

It’s critical that you take preventative measures to minimize any additional risk to your business. That includes ensuring that your data is backed up and stored both onsite and offsite and is tested.

In fact, being able to send your employees home to work is part of a solid business continuity plan. The whole idea behind a business continuity plan is to keep the lights on during any type of unforeseen disaster, and being able to walk away from it intact.

Equipping your workforce with the tools and best practices to keep operations running is critical, and we are here to help. Give TechWorx a call at 814-806-3228 and ask how we can help equip your workforce to safely, securely, and effectively work remotely.

Continue reading

Critical Cybersecurity Reminder for TechWorx Clients who are Telecommuting

The recent COVID-19 self-isolation mandates from the state of Pennsylvania last night has unexpectedly directed you and your team to telecommute—and we understand that you may be feeling overwhelmed. With many changes happening at once, telecommute security could be an afterthought or completely overlooked. This could put you and your organization at increased risk from attackers, who are always looking for opportunities to take advantage of disruption generally and weak security practices specifically. But it’s more than your organization at risk—if your telecommute device is compromised, anything else connected to your home network could be at risk too. We don’t want to see that happen.

Don’t panic.  There are ways to stay secure.

There are some simple things you can do to improve your security while working outside of the office. The tips that follow apply to almost all situations, and they’re relevant whether you’re using your organizations’ laptop or smartphone, or your own personal desktop or tablet.

7 Basic tips to improve your telecommute security:

  1. Find out if your organization has rules or policies for telecommuting, and if so, make sure you read them and comply with them. For example, it may be OK for you to use your own computer for reading company email but not for accessing sensitive customer data. This is particularly important if your organization is in a regulated industry.
  1. Protect your computer communications from eavesdropping. If you use Wi-Fi at home (most of us do), make sure your network is set up securely. Specifically, look to see if it is using “WPA2” or “WPA3” security, and make sure your password is hard to guess. If you’re unsure how to do this, you might be able to find a how-to video or checklist online by doing a search for your Wi-Fi router brand and model. You are welcome to contact our office for assistance if needed.
  1. If your organization has a VPN (virtual private network), use that on your telecommute device for stronger protection. Many organizations require a VPN connection in their telecommuting rules or policies. If you are new to telecommuting and unsure if this is a requirement for your organization, ask your organization’s management team for advice.
  1. If you’re using your own personal computer or mobile device (something not issued by your organization) for telecommuting, make sure you’ve enabled basic security features. Simply enabling the PIN, fingerprint, or facial ID feature will prevent people from getting on your device should you walk away from it. Any PIN or password you use should be hard to guess. Please make sure you document any additional PIN or passwords you add to your devices and keep the passwords in a safe place.
  1. Keep your computers and mobile devices patched and updated. Most devices provide an option to check and install updates automatically. Enabling that option can be a good idea if you don’t want to check for updates periodically.
  1. If you’re seeing unusual or suspicious activity on any device you’re using to telecommute (computer, mobile device, or home network) call or email TechWorx—better safe than sorry. Contact TechWorx help desk 814-806-3228 or email to report the activity.
  1. Be on the lookout for social engineering attempts such as phishing emails or phone scams related to telecommuting. Social engineering is when someone tries to trick you into doing something or giving away personal information. Scammers and criminals use every major event to come up with new schemes, and with you and others suddenly telecommuting, attackers will try to take advantage of this changing environment. Here are some examples
  • If you get emails from unknown accounts with strange file attachments.
  • If people call claiming to be technical staff asking for your passwords or telling you to go to a website to ‘scan’ your computer.
  • If you get unusual web meeting requests—don’t hesitate to ask questions and verify things by phone or other means before proceeding.

Stop what you are doing and contact TechWorx immediately if any of the above happen to you.

Remember we are here to help

TechWorx is remaining open and our staff is working remotely to support you. Almost all of our clients can either telecommute themselves or fit into one of the categories designated as life sustaining by Governor Wolf. We are here to support you and your team as we navigate this time together.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

-TechWorx Team

Continue reading

Coronavirus: Business Continuity and Cyberthreat to Your Operations

TechWorx coronavirus business continuity 2020

COVID-19, or coronavirus, has been a major global health concern over the past couple of months. At this point, it is clear that this disease is having a serious impact on the workplace. We wanted to provide a brief rundown of good workplace and cybersecurity practices, as well as a few pointers on how you can handle health-based employee absences.

No Change in Your TechWorx Experience

During this period of social distancing recommendations and mandates the TechWorx office will remain open and the help desk will be available with our normal business hours. We will be able to support any of your employees working remotely just as if they were at your office.

Any scheduled installations or sales meetings will still move forward, but we may contact you to confirm prior to us coming onsite. We will be calling any people that we had sales calls with to see if they would prefer to still have an in-person meeting or phone conference instead. We can also reschedule if necessary. The health and safety of our staff and your staff is the upmost importance.

Coronavirus as a Cyberthreat

Unfortunately, coronavirus will also require you to also keep an eye on your network security, particularly if you operate within the healthcare industry. Hackers and cybercriminals have taken advantage of the widespread concern that the disease has caused. For example:

  • Scammers have phished healthcare providers with updates that appear to have come from the World Health Organization or hospitals local to their area, but actually introduce keyloggers into their systems.
  • Those involved in the medical supply chain have been targeted with emails referencing the coronavirus that install malware to steal information.
  • Ransomware has been introduced into consumer systems by promising recipients of an email information about COVID-19’s spread.

While the current climate may not make it easy, these emails and other cybersecurity threats can be overcome through the same best practices that foil other cyberthreats. In addition to comprehensive digital protections, reminding your employees how to spot these threats will be crucial to staying safe

How to Maintain Productivity with Your Team at Home

With today’s technology, having an employee to work from home doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be sacrificing that employee’s productivity. We now have many ways that your team can work effectively from home, still contributing to your organization while practicing safe social distancing.

Equipping Your Employees

TechWorx can equip your employees with secure remote access solutions to continue their work from home, safely accessing the applications and data their tasks require through an encrypted connection. As collaboration will certainly be necessary, you will want to be sure that your employees are also equipped with the communication tools, such as Microsoft Teams, that facilitate this collaboration as well.

If you would like some assistance with options for remote access or help using Microsoft Teams please reach out to our help desk by email or phone 814-806-3228.

Employee Cybersecurity Awareness and Protection

As noted above, there are a lot of malicious sites disguised as reliable COVID-19 maps popping up on social media or through misleading emails that hackers are circulating. Most TechWorx clients have Open DNS installed on their work computers which will prevent employees from accessing these sites. If employees are taking their laptop with them to work remotely, they will be protected. However, if your employees are using their own computers to work from home this software is not installed on their personal computers.

Please remind employees to be cautious and aware of possible cybersecurity threats while they are working remotely.

Continue reading

Why (and How) SMBs Should Strategically Adopt Technology

adopt_technology

There is no question that a small business can benefit from technology, as has been proven time and time again. However, an issue can arise if a business bites off more than it can chew, so to speak, and ultimately creates a spike in costs. A responsible business owner will resist this temptation and prioritize the solutions they need over the ones they want - building profitability and generating capital needed to make other improvements.

In this blog, we’ll examine some of the implementations that can deliver a good return on investment to a small business.

0 Comments
Continue reading

Is Your Cloud Solution Actually a Money Pit?

cloud_money_costing_you

The cloud has proven to be an extremely useful tool for the modern business. Not only does it provide anywhere-anytime access to applications, processing, storage, et al; it also delivers those products as a service, allowing you to budget for recurring costs rather than major upfront ones. This provides your organization with functional, supported, and secure computing environments that eliminate a lot of the support costs that traditional computing environments require. It sounds like a perfect scenario for small and large businesses alike, but things aren’t always what they seem, as a lot of cloud users have found that they have incurred several hidden costs by using cloud platforms. Today, we take a look at these hidden costs.

0 Comments
Continue reading