The essential IT solutions needed in your emergency and disaster response plans.
By Roger Sands, CEO and Co-Founder of Wyebot, Inc.
COVID-19 continues to affect health and business around the world. Companies are working to find as many ways as possible to maintain productivity and are relying more and more on their wireless and wired networks to be robust and adaptable. My company Wyebot, Inc. provides AI-driven WiFi automation for hundreds of organizations, and I know how necessary a strong network is when it comes to keeping operations running as smoothly as possible. Here are three IT best practices to keep your networks optimized and running strong, no matter what worst-case scenario develops.
There are two pieces to this: remote access for network management, and remote access for employees. Manufacturers across every industry know that it isn’t possible to completely close down a facility and continue production as normal from home. However, there can be situations that call for anyone who can work remotely to do so. This might be because employees are sick or working on a shift schedule. Perhaps travel isn’t possible and so IT teams that were responsible for networks in multiple locations are now unable to visit most facilities in person. Whatever the reason, you need to ensure that your network supports remote activities.
For IT teams, it’s vital to look for a solution that allows these professionals to remotely view and troubleshoot the entire network. Networks are dynamic and vast ecosystems. If any one piece suffers from interference, degradation, or another issue, the entire network can be affected. Make sure that IT can see everything, 24/7, and resolve issues as quickly as possible.
For employees, you need to be prepared with the IT solutions needed to successfully transition to telework.
At the network level, this includes using an analytics tool that will give IT insight into the network’s health and performance, ensuring that all employees that need access to onsite applications and servers can work at a high-level. The network might work consistently well on a normal basis, but is it equipped to handle hundreds of employees suddenly logging in remotely? The only way to know for sure is with 100% visibility and detailed analytics.
On an individual level, make sure that you have plans to offer employees remote tech support in case they run into issues at home. You’ll also need to ensure that employees have any and all necessary software downloaded onto their computer or how to access cloud-based applications, and that they know the proper procedures for things like backing up files, accessing external servers, and connecting to secure sites.
For all remote access needs, I recommend using an analytics tool with AI-automation. The goal is to find a solution that works 24/7, automatically detects and reports possible issues, provides complete network visibility with historical data back a week or a month, and supports the remote diagnosis and troubleshooting of all issues.
In disaster response situations, it’s a good practice to review security protocols and potentially increase security testing.
Depending on the disaster, you might suddenly find yourself shifting resources, people, and equipment rapidly to meet different needs. In this fast-paced charged environment, it’s important to ensure that network security checks are still proceeding as normal. Check to see who has access to the network, what they are accessing, and if network security protocols are unchanged.
One of the major tenets of network security is to only allow ports that are absolutely necessary. This is because every open port is a potential backdoor into your system for any hacker or malicious user who uncovers it. Closing your ports or protecting them with firewalls keeps them secure, but sometimes ports are accidentally left open. This can happen for a number of reasons, and networks are especially at risk when there are a lot of changes happening. For this reason, I recommend monitoring network security on a continuous, scheduled basis with a network testing tool. Scheduling the tests to run automatically decreases the chance of there being any “surprises” that could negatively impact network security.
I recommend using a tool that will test multiple aspects of your network, including network security. Look for a solution that performs port scans, can be scheduled to run, and will automatically report all results to IT. If you don’t currently have a testing tool in place, you can test your network’s security using a number of free tools. These tools, like ShieldsUP, give good insight, but must be run manually, and don’t offer continuous, proactive monitoring.
Whether responding to a pandemic like COVID-19 or another disaster, use these best practices to optimize your facility’s network against any potential threats. Optimizing the network to offer robust and secure service regardless of whether employees are onsite or off-site gives you the options you need to promote safety and productivity now and in the future.
About the Author
Roger Sands is a co-Founder and CEO of Wyebot, Inc. Roger has 17 years of executive management positions in successful networking startups and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to Wyebot, Roger was the Business Line Manager for Hewlett-Packard’s WW WLAN business growing it from #6 to #2 market share. Roger joined HP via the acquisition of Colubris Networks a wireless startup where he held a number of executive positions including co-CEO and was instrumental in the HP acquisition. Prior to Colubris, he was a GM at Accton Technology founding the enterprise wireless business and building it to #3 market share via 6 strategic partnerships. Roger also held senior management positions at 3com, USRobotics and Bytex Corporation. Roger holds a Masters and Bachelors in Electrical Engineering at Northeastern University.