The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing us all to rethink how we as individuals work and how we can best manage the performance and productivity of our employees. Simply, we must evolve ourselves and our organizations so that we become highly proficient at working virtually.
Before discussing a few key technologies that are essential to operating in a virtual workspace, you need to understand some of the security risks of enabling your employees to work remotely and how you can best mitigate these risks. Several key vulnerabilities that you need to be aware of include:
- Working from home opens new opportunities for cyberattack. Be sure that dealership employees are using VPN software to access dealership data and systems. In addition, you will want to balance security and convenience when it comes to employee data and system access. If access is too difficult then employees will seek out risky work-arounds and open up new opportunities for cybercriminals. Therefore, it's valuable to rethink dealership access management policies so that employees can connect to critical infrastructure via personal devices in a secure manner.
- Social engineering scams are on the rise. Disasters often result in a spike in malware-laced phishing emails. This is the case with the CORVID-19 pandemic. If you don’t have a good mechanism for educating your staff on how to avoid falling victim to a phishing scam, then now is the time to do this and establish a “human firewall” to protect your business. 91% of data breaches start with a successful phishing email.
- Outside access to your systems and data requires a boost in cybersecurity risk mitigation. You’re probably familiar with multi-factor authentication. If not, this is a method where access to a system is only granted after the user presents two or more pieces of evidence of their credentials. This typically requires the user to provide verifiable information about something they know, something they have, or something they are. Now is the time to implement multi-factor authentication.
To facilitate working virtually you will need to have a set of essential technologies in place as well as a central point – a command center – to monitor unauthorized access and to administer user roles and organizational policies and procedures. The key technologies you should have include:
- Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) – A VPN allows employees to access your dealership’s network from home. VPNs establish an encrypted connection, so employees can securely login to your dealership’s DMS, CRM and other applications. To reduce the chances of cybercriminals being able to compromise your VPN accounts, train staff to use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
- Cloud-Based Applications – If you’ve been thinking about switching to Microsoft Office 365, now is the perfect time. Employees can access and work on all of their documents, spreadsheets and presentations from home; plus, Office 365 has built in workflow, productivity and collaboration tools.
- Collaboration Tools – Collaboration tools help employees stay connected regardless of whether employees work at the office or from home. Similar in concept to an “Instant Messaging” app, today’s collaboration tools are integrated with both phone and computer systems. Employees use these tools to quickly resolve issues, and to get approvals and feedback on projects. Microsoft Teams is a great option for this, and it comes with Microsoft Office 365.
- Videoconferencing – Videoconferencing is a highly effective tool for replacing in-person meetings. Unlike phone calls, videoconferencing forces participants to be present and pay attention. Additionally, videoconferencing gives participants the same feeling of personal interaction as in-person meetings, helping to strengthen rapport. Most videoconferencing systems allow employees remote access from desktop computers, laptops and mobile tablets.
The good news is, if your dealership makes these IT investments to enable more employees to work from home, the money and effort won’t go to waste. As the car sales process moves online, your dealership could potentially set up a virtual sales process allowing some of your sales staff to work from home part time.
Being able to offer flexibility in work schedules is a much-desired benefit that appeals to a broad range of talent and might help to reduce employee turnover.
Investing in work-at-home IT solutions is a smart decision that will enable your employees to stay productive through this pandemic, and in the future.