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How to protect your digital and physical workplace

Introduction

Modern businesses are binary entities: a blend of physical and digital operations. COVID-19 has led many to rely on their digital operations, but the physical dimension is still essential. So while some businesses may be mostly physical, and others mostly digital, both need to be protected.
 
The physical and digital worlds work in tandem, but especially so when it comes to protecting the workplace. Connected technology adds a digital layer to installed physical protection devices, such as CCTVs, to give them remote monitoring and management capabilities. Data capture from onsite devices and wearable technology adds analytics, intelligence and greater management capabilities that make physical workplaces more secure.

COVID-19 has had a profound effect on how we work

It’s accelerated the break-up of traditional office spaces, dispersed employees across a wider range of locations (mainly homes) and restricted the numbers and movements of those still working in offices, factories and warehouses.

This situation raises a few issues:

  • How do businesses protect their premises effectively?
  • Are there enough people to monitor, manage, report and deal with safety and security issues or disruptions at the location?
  • Can they monitor potential sources of disruptions?
  • How do they ensure prompt reporting and resolution of security breaches or disruptions?
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With fewer on-site employees, we’re forced to rely on technology to monitor and report on security issues, as well as to automate tasks previously performed by humans.

CCTV at workplace

Many workplaces use CCTV to protect their property and buildings. But older systems can be insecure, inaccessible and expensive to maintain. 

Footage is stored locally and must be accessed onsite. Information needs to be copied onto removable media with limited storage capacity. With the constraints affecting employees working onsite, organisations need systems that can be managed, monitored and accessed remotely.
 
By overlaying cloud-based services and an IoT-enabled network on existing CCTV infrastructure, businesses can add “digital armour” to buildings.

This provides several benefits:

  • No local limitations on storage capacity, as data is stored in the cloud.
  • Video footage can be accessed securely from any connected device.
  • End-to-end security with data encrypted from camera to cloud.
  • Real-time alerts for maintenance issues.
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IoT and the cloud

IoT and the cloud have proven reliable and effective technologies during the pandemic, with widespread adoption and implementation.

  • Over half of enterprises believe the majority of their IT workloads will be hosted in the cloud within the next year (CCS Insight).

Both technologies play an integral part in helping companies digitalise their existing processes and business. They add scale, analytics, security and integration, while providing the connective tissue for digital armour and the arterial flows of data to

Remote monitoring minimises the need for routine maintenance visits. Systems can be maintained and repaired remotely, meaning engineers and service teams can manage their time more efficiently. IoT and the cloud make it possible for tasks to be automated and work to be carried out remotely. This helps employers operate effectively with a smaller workforce and protect employees doing vital work.
For example, the pandemic made it difficult for a large energy provider to send field engineers to check above ground utility installations regularly. IoT allowed the business to monitor those installations remotely and feed the information back to the team, so operations could continue as normal. Without this remote monitoring capability, gas distribution by the company would have been severely affected.
In a similar vein, production managers at a leading semiconductor manufacturer were forced to work from home because of the pandemic. Their ability to access, analyse and process manufacturing data was adversely affected. IoT connected the company’s assets and fed the data into systems for the production managers to monitor from home and keep production lines running. Without IoT, the production managers would have been placed at risk or the manufacturing process would have been forced to close down.

Security systems in communication channels

The dispersal of workforces from offices to homes has led to an increase in communication between the operational centre and remote workplaces. Businesses need to ensure they have the security systems in place to protect and sustain these communication channels.

In sectors such as the financial services and insurance industry, phone calls made by remote workers are required to be as secure as if they were taking place in the office. They need to be recorded and stored for compliance and regulatory reasons. This makes sense, as recordings are needed in the event of a challenge and to demonstrate sound governance to clients, business partners and regulators.
 
Mobile recording helps firms manage their communications compliance and securely store calls, voicemails and text messages in the cloud.
 
Contact centres are another area of focus as companies navigate the shift to a dispersed workforce. Cloud-based contact centres are more flexible, customisable and scalable than onsite systems, making it easier to meet the needs of a dispersed workplace and to comply with security standards, such as Level 1 PCI and ISO-27001 certifications.
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Keeping remote workers secure

As businesses adopt remote working models, they’re facing new and potentially severe security challenges. Learn how to keep your information secure in the new normal.

Software-defined wide area networking

The changes in business structure brought about by digitalisation, the cloud and remote working have placed great stress on company legacy networks configured for centralised, office-based environments.
Developed for cloud-based, digital business, software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) overlays automation, flexibility, scalability and intelligence onto the underlying network infrastructure.
 
This is invaluable as business networks become more dispersed. SD-WAN helps businesses respond quickly to environmental shifts and external threats.

With SD-WAN, all of this can be achieved across a dispersed network from a single portal

With SD-WAN, a business can:

  • View and change bandwidth on demand.
  • Prioritise applications as required.
  • Provide intelligent routing of data.
  • Update security rules on an as-needed basis.
  • Update policies across the network in real-time.
  • Add and remove virtual firewalls to counter threats.
  • Address security issues across all sites, devices and the cloud.
  • Ensure seamless user experience in times of high demand, with global load balancing of server and SAN infrastructure.
SD-WAN brings capabilities to counter the new vulnerabilities that accompany the shift to a dispersed business. SD-WAN gives companies the ability to:

  • Use encryption to protect that traffic crossing their network.
  • Deploy virtual firewalls.
  • Make informed decisions based on greater visibility.

Device lifecycle management

With many employees working from home, businesses are under pressure to ensure they have the services in place to protect, manage, and update remote employee devices.

Many businesses have already implemented device management and device lifecycle management services to protect their mobile devices. But as workplaces become more dispersed, there’s a growing need to re-evaluate those services. Specifically, can they:
Secure many devices accessing the network from dispersed workplaces, while adhering to stringent compliance, security and privacy policies?
Deliver the same level of security to a device in an employee’s home office or spare room?
Build, manage, deploy and replace devices in dispersed workplaces – and ensure they stay compliant with all security policies?
Businesses need to provide more workers with seamless usage of business apps and tools through any device, while keeping those devices secure and ensuring information access is aligned to the appropriate users.
 
They need to protect and manage access to corporate data, from initial device enrolment or provisioning out of the box, through to device retirement or the end of the employee’s contract. Such a system should work across various endpoints (such as IoS, Android, PCs and Macs) with the same consistency.

The shift to dispersed workplaces presents other key challenges:

  • How do you secure the mobile workforce if your existing defences aren’t configured for dispersed workplaces?
  • How do you ensure employees can access the tools they need to keep business going, without latency or delay?
  • How do you maintain compliance with data privacy legislation while trying to keep the business running?
  • Can you guarantee security across all users, branches and devices?
  • Can you provide up-to-date and consistent protection?
  • Can you be sure your workforce is operating securely and more productively?
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To protect a dispersed workplace, your business needs a reliable security solution that provides clear network visibility, access control, threat prevention and data protection.

Secure storage and management of data

The secure storage and management of data is critical. With businesses sharing data to and from dispersed workplaces, the data at the operational centre needs to be secure and the integrity of that data must be watertight. But we also need to address the security concerns that arise as more of that data is moved to the cloud.

Public cloud security

Accessing the public cloud using the public internet is a standard practice for many organisations, but this puts corporate data at risk.

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93% of IT and security professionals were ‘moderately to extremely concerned’ about public cloud security (Bitglass 2020 Cloud Security report).
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46% of respondents cited security and compliance risk as one of the top three barriers to achieving expected cloud outcomes (Accenture Cloud Outcomes Research 2020).

SD-WAN: Built-in encryption and firewall

One way to mitigate security concerns is to bypass the public internet and connect multiple dispersed workplaces using technologies such as SD-WAN. With built-in encryption and firewall, it provides secure connectivity to safeguard data, the network and users, as well as internet breakout to cloud security services that protect against unwanted intrusions and viruses.
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Implement an effective data protection strategy

Data protection is essential to successful business in the digital age. Read our practical guide for key insights and considerations into protecting your company information.

More customers are transacting with businesses digitally

They are exposed to more vulnerabilities and expect robust cybersecurity measures to be in place as a result. Customers need to be sure their interactions with an business’s employees, whether in the headquarters or in a home workplace, are secure and that any data they share is protected.

Increased mobility of data across dispersed businesses increases pressure on companies to guarantee the security of that data; not only for the organisation, but also for its customers and suppliers.

Security: Key to confident business

When a business is confident in its security, that confidence is felt by customers and suppliers

Even before the pandemic, companies were aware of the danger to their reputation and customer relations from inadequate security. Forty-three per cent stated the key driver for spending more of their IT budget on security was minimising the risk of reputational damage (Vodafone Cyber Ready Barometer Report 2018).

Customers also expressed their concern about the online security risks

59% of respondents were willing to pay extra for a higher level of security for the devices and services they used (Vodafone Cyber Ready Barometer Report 2018). These concerns have only intensified as they’ve been forced to conduct more business online.

Security is no longer confined to protecting the business

It now has to follow and secure data wherever it goes. As data flows to and from more places, or is accessed from different workplaces and devices, it needs to be protected and secured.

Cybersecurity

According to research by Omdia, the top priority for organisations in 12–24 months is to improve security, specifically cybersecurity.

With employees dispersed further from company offices, businesses must ensure workers are aware of their security policies and are confident in their effectiveness.

The scale of the issue should not be under-estimated. Even before COVID-19, employee awareness was a concern:
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Only half of employees (51%) were aware of their business remote working policy
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Just over a third (35%) were aware of the BYOD policy
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42% of employees viewed their organisation’s security policies as either a slight or significant hindrance to their efficiency
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42% of decision makers and 39% of employees agreed information security was just a “box ticking” exercise (Vodafone Cyber Ready Barometer Report 2018).

Protect and secure your physical and digital workplaces

For businesses looking to protect and secure their physical and digital workplaces, a number of solutions are available. Vodafone provides a wide range of solutions and supporting technologies, along with our extensive expertise.

Security expertise

There’s a reason so many of our customers around the world trust us to protect their networks and devices.

In every 24 hour period, Vodafone protects:

  • 105 million IoT devices across 39 countries,

  • 7.4 billion minutes of mobile calls,

  • as much data as it would take to stream 2.6 billion 3 min HD videos.

Vodafone was also the first service provider globally to provide a managed service that protects customers from Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks – a type of cyber attack where a cybercriminal disrupts a company’s network or server by overwhelming it with traffic. We've been protecting our customers from DDoS attacks since 2004.
We can also protect your business from other security threats, such as man-in-the-middle and zero-day attacks. To learn more about our approach to cyber security, visit our solutions page.

Consulting services

Customers can access our wide pool of resources and skill sets to keep them safe during their cloud journey and protect their physical and digital workplaces.

Connectivity

Vodafone offers all the connectivity services customers require, including: Internet, Ethernet, SD-WAN, Satellite, Narrowband-IoT, Mobile 4G/5G and Cloud Connect.

Remote working

Our infrastructure services include Mobile 4G/5G, SD-WAN and Mobile Private Networks. We also provide security and management for employee mobile, tablet and laptop devices with our Device Management and Device Lifecycle Management services.

Security

We provide a range of security services, including Security Assessment and Managed Network Security. All of our SD-WAN platforms let businesses easily update security rules and update policies in real-time.

Digital buildings:

a secure, efficient managed solution that works with your existing CCTV system to protect your business assets, monitoring your site – anytime, anywhere.

Cloud Connect

Addresses security concerns over accessing public cloud services such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services by providing a secure connection without using the public internet.

Vodafone keeps your employees safely connected wherever they choose to work

Vodafone provides a wide range of modern connectivity and collaboration options for employees

Organisations want to be sure that buildings and employees are safe. With a range of tools to monitor building utilisation, checking employee skin temperature, cyber security and keeping safe working distances between employees, Vodafone can help you protect your workplace.
The Connected Workday from Vodafone Business (02:16)