Coronavirus’ security challenge to remote working
Due to the rapid COVID-19 spread, many companies are experiencing a new challenge of remote work.
For most, the situation comes as a stress-test of operating teams using only online tools and means of communication. As more countries tighten quarantine measures, privacy protection company Surfshark is giving away six-month subscriptions for small businesses seeking to ensure a safe environment for people working from home.
"Internal networks in office spaces are carefully set up, maintained, and protected by IT admins. It's much more difficult to ensure the safety of each remote employee's network," says Naomi Hodges, the Cybersecurity Advisor at Surfshark. "Demand for VPNs has surged significantly – we've received a high number of requests from businesses seeking to warrant that their employees have a safe and private workflow from home. Since Surfshark believes that privacy is an inherent human right, we will provide small businesses with our software for free, as part of our efforts to secure people who are working remotely against cyberattacks."
Although it is unsavoury, crises such as the COVID-19 outbreak usually trigger a response in the criminal communities. Cybersecurity is unlikely to be an exception. Hackers will get access to many easy targets and weak links to break.
When somebody works at the office, the internal network they connect to usually offers a good layer of security. The concept of working from home removes all these security measures which result in an increased risk of data breaches and leaks of confidential information. That is especially true if they opt to use a shared internet connection.
"People working from home are very appealing to cybercriminals," says Naomi Hodges. "It's difficult to ensure that they follow all the necessary security measures. For example, using 2FA and strong passwords, ignoring suspicious emails, always keeping a VPN on – especially if working on shared Wi-Fi. Criminals always look for the weakest link, and an unsuspecting employee is a perfect target."
VPN usage is highly recommended when working outside the office. If an employee connects to the internet via a VPN, they encrypt all the data that is being transmitted. That makes it extremely difficult for cyber attackers to intercept it and helps secure any sensitive information.
While working remotely without maintained security measures, an employee's device can also get infected by malware. Plus, there is always the oldest trick in the book – phishing: "As a form of social engineering, it's still one of the most reliable ways to gain access to a network – by merely tricking a person," says Naomi Hodges. "When employees are aware of the risks, they are in a much better position to confront this daily reality and assess any situation that may arise correctly."
Small businesses interested in six-month VPN protection plans should register via the company's website: https://surfshark.com/corona-response.
Surfshark, a Gold medalist at 2020 Info Security Excellence awards as a Hot Security Technology of the Year, is a privacy protection toolset developed to provide its users with an ability to control their online presence seamlessly. The core premise of Surfshark is to humanize online privacy protection and develop tools that protect users' privacy beyond the realm of a virtual private network. Surfshark is one of a very few VPNs which have been audited by independent security experts.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.