Dealing with the unexpected is central to what IT services company Icelantic does – and the unprecedented challenge of today’s embattled business climate is no exception. Since 2000 the Edinburgh-based firm has been advising on the threat of cyber security and recently, on the preparations needed for remote working and agile IT systems.

Now partner and co-founder Duncan Reid says Icelantic, which has 300 clients with some 3,500 end users, is reacting swiftly to the problems posed  by the Coronavirus crisis, one that is already seeing more of us avoiding office spaces and common work areas to work from home.

HeraldScotland:

If there was ever a time to review a company’s security policy, he says it’s now – with increasing numbers of people using their own laptops for company business – and they should consider platforms such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, which allow business communication to be moved away from the email inbox into a more structured environment.

“Unsurprisingly, due to COVID-19 we are seeing an unprecedented demand among clients for remote working solutions and whereas traditionally IT departments have ensured that office computers were rigorously checked in terms of anti-virus and security software, what has happened recently is that a lot of these parameters have been relaxed as there is an understandable anxiety to keep businesses operating as quickly and as smoothly as possible.”

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However, he adds, a lot of these home devices may have no antivirus software and may not have been updated in a secure way since they were bought.

“Now they have unfettered access to the server and we are definitely beginning to see an increase in some hacking-type events as unfortunately some of the ‘bad guys’ out there are seeing this as an opportunity to try and attack what they see as a new weak link.

Previously, people would occasionally use computers at home, but this is going to be a longer-term problem, so we will have to establish a better strategy that includes remote meetings and easy access to central resources.

HeraldScotland:

In that light, Icelantic is, he says, asking clients to review their security and remote working strategy and the company has suggested a number of pre-emptive steps, including:

• Strong password policy and staff awareness of increased hacking activity;

• Adopting Microsoft Teams, which can support audio and video conferencing, allows multiple participants and supports document and screen sharing;

• Recommending clients who might have an older remote access solution to change their VPN to modern versions (Virtual Private Network);

• Where possible, clients move workloads to centralised Cloud solutions, such as Microsoft SharePoint, which do not a need connection back to head offices and are significantly more feature rich for remote requirements of users.

“Some people are working on technology that is seven or eight years old so it’s important  that when you are setting up remote working for your staff that you have the best form of VPN, the right password and the right layer of passwords,” says Reid who adds that the ‘chief exec syndrome’ often results in the people with most access to information have the least secure approach to that information, mistakenly thinking they don’t need to comply with what they view as restrictions.

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Security is absolutely the primary thing to focus on during this situation, he stresses, adding that close second is adopting effective and agile working practices through Cloud technology.

 “This is already changing the way businesses operate and the need to do so has suddenly become so urgent that it has speeded up the adoption of new technology. We’ll now reach a stage in the next few months that would otherwise have taken the next three to five years.”

Icelantic itself, he says is like other companies trying to reduce on-site and in-person meetings as much as possible and for the time being, is migrating its usual client meetings to remote options.

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“For us that doesn’t preclude good business communication – and good social communication – as remote working involves both technological and psychological issues so it’s important that people are comfortable and engaged in their work and have the opportunity have some office banter, albeit in an online world.”

In the post Covid-19 world he believes that people will think increasingly creatively about ways of working remotely and collaborating.

“We ourselves are currently in the middle of a recruitment programme and in a situation that would have been quite novel a few weeks ago, we are interviewing people via video conference calls and can also ship laptops to their houses for their induction training.”

For more information please visit www.icelantic.com/covid-19/