For nearly two years, organizations have had to make several adjustments in their workplace, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital landscape has evolved tremendously, and businesses can now enjoy better user experiences and enhance competitiveness. However, organizations faced challenges coping with remote working environments as most employees worked from home. This move led to the need to adopt more digital services and increased cyber threats. Statistics from IBM show that data breach costs rose to $4.2 million in 2021 alone.
As we start 2022, CIOs seeking to impact their businesses positively have to prioritize productivity tools and actionable intelligence. Moreover, CIOs should continue to invest heavily in additional security measures such as whitelisting and ransomware prevention. In fact, even the top priorities highlighted by NASCIO also focus on cybersecurity, cloud-based services, and digital services. As you make plans for this year, here are some of the top priorities you should have in mind.
This year, CIOs are at a crossroads. The previous two years have forced them to make several adjustments to ensure that they successfully navigate the unprecedented changes in the workplace. A global survey by McKinsey revealed that the pandemic led to an acceleration of businesses’ digital transformation within a few months by three to four years. As a CIO, you now have to make strategic changes that will be vital in the coming decades. And as Craig Beam from MicroXpress put it, 2021 showed that it’s impossible to accomplish everything remotely, but there are still many other things that we can achieve. The key thing is to use the right tools in each application.
Besides, there are countless remote working tools available today to overcome the issues businesses face with remote working. CIOs will need to adopt the right tools and train their employees on the best practices of using them. Notably, companies now rely on video conferences and chat even more than email.
Some of the most popular platforms are Zoom, mostly preferred for video conferencing, Slack for business messaging, and Controlio for employee monitoring. If you intend to hold more flexible meetings, you can use productivity tools such as CoScreen, Headroom, and Otter.ai. For asynchronous communication, you can try tools such as Yac, Twist, and Loom, so you can record and even schedule messages instead of having instant messages. Still, you can go for the all-in-one productivity tools such as Akiflow, Sunsama, and Motion. When employees have the right tools at their disposal, usually dedicated to collaboration, workflow automation, project management, and file management, there is a significant impact on their productivity levels.
Small and big organizations have learned that just like technology keeps evolving, the same applies to cybercrime. The bad guys are now utilizing more sophisticated tactics, and it’s evident that even the best CIOs and established businesses aren’t immune from these challenges. A recent report revealed that the global economy incurs a loss of approximately $2.9 million every minute due to cybercriminal activities.
Generally, a ransomware attack comes from a script or an executable file. Not all ransomware attacks happen instantly since some can stay dormant until a given date. CIOs should implement Zero Trust Network Architecture, a new strategy that eliminates the entire concept of trust. This technology has constant validations and checks since it doesn’t trust the user, network, or device. Training your e employees on ways to identify a potential ransomware attack can also make a significant difference in keeping the bad guys at bay. In the famous Colonial Pipeline attack, one compromised password was enough to bring down the company. Also, utilize the next-gen endpoint protection mainly due to the new work from home norm to close security gaps that cybercriminals may exploit.
Don’t forget to back up your company data constantly. This way, you can quickly bounce back after a ransomware attack without prolonged downtime caused by data loss. Better yet, since you can restore your data, you don’t have to give in to the ransom demands of cyberattackers. Notably, a report by Infosecurity Magazine showed that ransomware demands in the first half of 2021 skyrocketed by 518% compared to 2020. However, note that hackers are also aware that businesses have backups, so they develop ransomware that can scan your backup files. That’s why you need to consult with IT experts in Central Pennsylvania, such as MicroXpress Inc., to help you with cloud backup options. This way, you will have a copy of your backups offsite, safe from cybersecurity threats.
With the increased modern cyber threats, you cannot solely rely on a signature-based approach. Also, with new and sophisticated cyber threats coming up every day, organizations may find it difficult to keep up with the emerging threats. That’s why you need to embrace Zero-trust principles in your security strategies. Application whitelisting defends your system from unknown and known threats, especially when you need high-level security in a threat-prone area.
Application whitelisting has a default-deny policy that makes ransomware and zero-day attacks difficult. Whitelisting also allows you to monitor changes made in your files and complete visibility on your processes and applications on your host system. Therefore, you can create an inventory of the software application you think are safe to run on your organization’s network. Whitelisting also allows you to specify the programs you want and not just block them. This way, malicious software, and harmful files can’t run on your organization’s infrastructure. You can also select a team of employees who can access specific files and programs.
The need to train your employees has never been greater with the evolving technologies in today’s landscape, coupled with the increase in cyberattacks. Also, while your employees are the greatest asset in a company, they are also the weakest link that could lead to a cyberattack. Cyber training allows your employees to learn vital insights on identifying possible threats and attacks. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that each team member can perform their daily activities responsibly, even when dealing with sensitive documents. When employees understand the consequences of each click, your organization will be much safer.
The government has also put up regulations requiring organizations to avail security awareness training to their workers depending on the nature of the business. However, since the scope of these regulations varies, make sure you consult industry experts that specialize in cybersecurity training to craft an appropriate program for your employees. These programs are especially vital for businesses in the financial and health sector as well as publicly traded companies and US federal agencies.
Although these priorities mainly focus on 2022, they will also shape the way companies do their business for years to come. Incorporating the right productivity tools has to be one of the top priorities for CIOs in 2022. Remote working seems to be the new normal, and for companies to accommodate every employee, the right tools will make a great difference. Therefore, CIOs utilizing the right productivity tools will also influence their employees’ productivity levels.
Security has been a significant concern for small and large businesses alike as cybercrimes hit an all-time high. For businesses hit by a ransomware attack, data loss led to downtime, massive losses, and even business closure in some worse scenarios. This means ransomware prevention should be a top priority for every CIO in Central Pennsylvania. Also, don’t forget that cybercriminals use all sorts of threats from malware, ransomware, hacking, and more. Therefore, application whitelisting should also be a top priority to strengthen cybersecurity measures.
For CIOs in Central Pennsylvania, you can partner with an industry expert such as MicroXpress Inc. to guide you in the best ways of securing your data and company network. The right IT experts will help you improve your security using Azure Active Directory or Okta solutions. You will also learn the best way to deploy multiple layers of protection on your networks, such as email security, dark web monitoring, next-gen endpoint protection, and zero-trust policies. Modern approaches like Zero Trust have reduced the average cost of data breaches by approximately $1.7 million as per a report by IBM.
You can decide to put off in-house hardware infrastructure upgrades till later in the year. Craig Beam from MicroXpress notes that through Microsoft Azure, companies can now move Window Servers to the cloud, which is an extra security measure. Therefore, CIOs can look into the available cloud options instead of making another hardware investment.
CIOs can also evaluate their on-premise and cloud services and consider shifting to a hybrid cloud. This way, it will be easier to adopt and manage remote working, especially when dealing with essential services instead of using cloud-only.
If you are looking forward to having a better 2022, these strategies will be vital in shaping this year and the years to come. By partnering with MicroXpress Inc. IT professionals, you will be a step ahead of other organizations in Central Pennsylvania. We offer managed IT support with easy-to-understand plans that suit different companies. We will help you in vital areas such as network administration, network security, offsite backup, and cloud solutions. Contact us today to help you will all your technology needs.
Thanks to our colleagues at GenIX in Los Angeles for their help with this article.
MicroXpress has been providing professional IT services to Central PA businesses since 1989. Watch this brief video to find out the Top Five Reasons so many local businesses are switching to MicroXpress for their IT support.