Whether you’re looking forward to the spectacle, or dreading the disruption, organisations need to make sure they are ready for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, which start today. Ensuring business continuity via secure remote working during over the next few months will not be easy but there are things that companies can do to ensure their data is protected, says Grant Taylor, UK vice president of information security vendor, Cryptzone. It’s not just London gearing up to host the games either as 34 venues throughout the UK will also be taking part, potentially causing nationwide disruption. Are you ready?
There are many ways the games will impact on the UK’s businesses this summer. For example, the transport network will have a significant increase in numbers all trying to get from A to B. While the daily commute is already intolerable for many in the UK capital, it’s likely to be much worse from July to September with resultant travel disruption. During big sporting events organisations usually experience high demand for time off and even an increase in ‘sick’ days. With the games on home soil this is probably going to soar as people either want to soak up the atmosphere or escape the debacle.
In an effort to minimise disruption, many organisations have already decided to offer people the opportunity to work from home or suggest they temporarily work from another office or at a customer/supplier site in order to stay productive. Others will no doubt allow staff to alter their hours of work or even watch events while at work. But whatever action you decide upon, remember any flexible working arrangements need to be clearly communicated to employees and where appropriate secure remote working processes put in place. Without such measures, HR controversy and IT security issues may leave their mark well after the games have ended.
Workers usually protected by the confines of the office won’t necessarily have a clue about how to work safely from alternative locations, especially if they will be using an ‘untrusted’ home computer. It is up to their employer to provide secure remote access for workers, most likely a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
One of the easiest ways to ensure a secure link is to ensure that all data stays on corporate servers and information is accessed securely using SSL, two factor authentication and secure browser technology. In the event that sensitive files have to be taken home they should always be encrypted to protect information.
The games provide the perfect catalyst to review remote working policies and ensure the right technology is available to support remote working. Your flexible working policy should make it clear whether the new working arrangements form part of a permanent policy or are only operational for the duration of the games. Automated policy management tools provide an efficient and time-saving alternative to more traditional forms of communication, such as memos and email. Many trade bodies recommend that organisations realistically set out what can and cannot be accommodated. Staff who fully understand the reason for your security and staffing decisions are more likely to adhere to them. For the others it never hurts to spell out the consequences of non-adherence.
Olympic Preparation Tips
- Introduce technology to support secure remote working.
- Create, and then regularly re-visit, your home and mobile working policy. Make sure each point is explained, in simple language, with no room for misinterpretation.
- Focus your users’ attention by emphasising the consequences of non-adherence. Keep these personal, instant and non-negotiable.
- As part of your communication and awareness programme introduce random testing to reveal gaps in understanding.
The London Olympics are a hurdle to overcome but, by investing in technology that will continue to be a business asset long after the games have finished, you could be left with an Olympic legacy instead of a bad memory. The games are coming, whether you’re ready or not.