In late January, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak an international health emergency, stressing that for the time being, it is not a pandemic, but merely an epidemic.
While people think coronavirus is a new outbreak of disease, it is actually a common thread of various, known viruses. There are many different types and concentrations of these viruses, some being mild and some being serious enough to cause death. The majority of patients affected with a coronavirus don’t experience death, however, as most people treat it soon after being initially affected.
Officially named the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or Wuhan Coronavirus, this latest outbreak concerns the most severe type of the virus. Some of the symptoms include coughs, sore throat, vomiting, lack of breath, and fever. A respiratory illness, the severity for patients has ranged from a mild cold to very serious symptoms that can (and do) lead to death. These symptoms tend to occur between 2 to 14 days after being infected.
Wuhan Coronavirus is the first large-scale global viral threat in almost 20 years since the SARS outbreak. Similar to SARS, health officials and governments were caught off guard, which resulted in many deaths. However, unlike previous epidemics, there are now systems in place for better containment of the virus to make sure it doesn’t spread like wildfire.
The effects of this particular coronavirus have put a spotlight on the need to protect employee health and that of their organizations. Accordingly, remote work has become a basic strategy for companies with headquarters in the far East and even in the United States, for certain industries.
Organizations that are based in or have contact with people from locations affected by the Wuhan strain of coronavirus need to consider how to restrict their employees from being in physical contact with each other and potentially infected individuals. As a central tenet of this strategy, gatherings of large numbers of people in public places or in the office should be avoided as much as possible.
A clear example of this precaution is the recently cancelled World Mobile Congress. A majority of vendors decided to pull out of the event and its organizers requested that the city of Barcelona declare a state of health emergency, due to numerous attendees coming directly from the epicenter of Wuhan Coronavirus’s origins.
Coronavirus has Boosted Remote Work
The concept of working remotely or working on the go isn’t a new trend. More and more organizations are enabling remote work by the day. Allowing workers to work “off campus” is a perk that is rewarded with the employer’s trust in their employees. For remote workers, it comes with many advantages such as working from anywhere and not depending on certain work hours. Usually, most remote workers ask for or are given permission to work remotely, but in China, this request has turned into a requirement.
To fight off the spread of Coronavirus, organizations are enforcing remote work as a necessity instead of a privilege. Around 60 million people in China were forced to work from home in January as the government tried to contain the virus. This unexpected experiment has been so well-received, and not just in its deterrence of outbreak, that Chinese organizations are considering adopting it as a more permanent measure moving forward.
China’s IT sector is the best-suited industry for remote workers and thus has been advocating for a more flexible work lifestyle. Prominent companies suggest that remote work can be successful if implemented with the correct infrastructure that will benefit both employees and employers.
Over the past ten years, organizations around the globe are increasing and expanding opportunities for remote work due to the need for an agile workforce spurred on by new technology. Despite the advancement of tech and the tools that create an increasingly mobile workforce, the trend comes with risks that have more to do with network health than personal health.
More Remote Workers, More Security Holes
The burgeoning remote work paradigm is creating countless security gaps for organizations. While remote workers might be easier targets for hackers, all employees must be aware of the different attacks that will exploit human behavior to open the door for hackers. One of the easiest attack vectors is unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
When allowing employees to work remotely, organizations must clearly outline those remote employees’ responsibilities regarding IT security best practices and the importance of data protection. To provide another layer of defense vs unauthorized network access, organizations must implement remote-worker-specific security policies which include device monitoring, multi-factor authentication and Wi-Fi security.
Today the majority of global organizations still depend on legacy hardware-based VPN technology for secure network access and access to cloud resources on different networks. These site-centric and hardware-based network security appliances that we’ve relied on for the past 30 years are no longer adequate in securing remote and on-premise access.
In providing secure network access to remote workers, organizations need to create and implement different security strategies to fight off different attacks on their network and resources. The user-centric Zero Trust security model enforces multiple layers of verification before granting resource access to any user.
Additionally, by implementing a solution that offers Software-Defined Perimeter architecture, organizations are helped to deploy perimeters globally while retaining the traditional model’s value of invisibility and inaccessibility to “outsiders”. These can be deployed anywhere – on the internet, in the cloud, at a hosting center, on the private corporate network, or across some or all of these locations.
Security Hygiene and Health Go Hand in Hand
To prevent remote access risks such as a sudden movement of employees off-premises in order to fight off Coronavirus, organizations should implement Software-Defined Perimeter technology and the Zero Trust model to ensure secure access by authorized devices, users and locations. They should also seek services such as Perimeter 81 which include advanced or even automatic Wi-Fi security features, ensuring employee communications are encrypted across all Internet connections. With Perimeter 81, organizations can ensure that only authorized connections are being established while leaving their cloud environments completely hidden from attacks, giving networks as clean a bill of health as their users.
To learn more about Perimeter 81’s Zero Trust Secure Network as a Service be sure to request a complimentary demo.