‘We need to constantly educate customers on cyber security’

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While WFH is a good option for organisations to save on cost, they need to invest in employee productivity monitoring tools and enhanced security solutions, believes N K Mehta, CMD, Secure Network Solutions

As a security solution provider, how do you assess the current scenario and the lessons learned? What’s your preparedness to handle such unprecedented situation?
The current situation is really serious. World has not seen anything like this. Normally, in the event of any natural disaster like earthquake or flood, one part of country gets affected while other regions still do business as usual. But in this case, the whole country or rather the entire word is affected.

Looking at the rising number of cases, I feel that businesses would take tremendous hit and start limping back to normalcy anywhere between 3-6 months after lockdown is completely removed. However, companies may not like to compromise on security while working remotely. Here, the Secure WFH and Teleworking solutions may still see some traction. But the major challenge for partners would be the payment coming on time and this may create stress in the system. Larger and newer security projects may be on hold for sure till situation reaches normalcy stage.

The most important lesson learnt is that businesses don’t need a huge infrastructure or big office space to run. For instance, we had taken an extra floor about 3 months back due to increase in number of technical and support engineers at our HO. Post the implementation of lockdown, we realised that there was no need for this extra investment and increased monthly expenses. We could have gone for WFH option for some employees on rotation basis and it would have saved us a lot of money. Besides, employees would have also been happier to save on the travel time.

Though it’s an unprecedented situation, still some level of preparedness is needed for sure. The most important aspect is to maintain the cash flow and for this, we should try to put cash, as much as possible, in reserve. Organisations must avoid capital expenditure and put on hold any expansion and recruitment plans.

How are you safeguarding your customers’ assets / premises in order to ensure continuity of their business operations?
We have close to 100 engineers who all are equipped with WFH solutions and continuously in touch with customers while taking care of their security concerns. One good thing is our type of support job can still be done remotely unlike manufacturing or logistics industry.

Most of our customers are looking for support on secure WFH solutions and we have been busy setting it up and supporting them 24×7 from the comfort of our home. Even though customer business continuity is taken care of, there were hiccups in the initial days as many of them were not prepared for complete workforce shifting to WFH.

With the sudden rise in cyber threats and attacks during this period, how are you ensuring your customers’ data is safe and helping them mitigate risks?
Being in the cyber security field for over 20 years, we understand threats and how they been getting sophisticated day by day. Educating customers had been an important part of our journey and we keep doing it on a regular basis. In the process of setting up the WFH solution, we take care of the basic security in terms of whatever can be implemented in the customers given infrastructure and also advise them on extra security solutions like 2FA, which they might need for enhanced security.

While a few customers go with our suggestion, others compromise with basic security as they don’t have required budget or don’t want to spend due to uncertain business conditions. For our large enterprise customers, we have also offered complimentary audit check-ups to mitigate risks.

Highlight some of the challenges being faced in providing service or support to the customers during this period?
Most of the IT/ITeS customers are used to the concept of WFH but they didn’t anticipate that their entire workforce would be operating from home. Earlier their own IT or limited senior people had WFH facility, but entire workforce operating from home created new challenges for them.

For example, organisations didn’t have enough laptops to give to their entire workforce. While laptop rentals and data card business saw a sudden boom, they too became scarce with a spurt in the demand and the organisations didn’t have a choice but to provide desktops to their employees. Besides, the licenses to enable the WFH login into their corporate servers was another challenge. We had to use trial licenses and sensing this, a few of the OEM’s started giving extended free licenses for 3-4 months.

The other of concern for us is that most of the customers are citing WFH as an excuse to delay payments. In the age of online payments, if they say that they are unable to pay as cheque book is in office or signing authority can’t come out due to lockdown, we have to take it with a pinch of salt. On the other hand, certain large customers have sent standard mails stating that due to current situation they would need minimum 90 days of credit. These all issues would create stress in the entire system and due to cascading effect most of the channel businesses are anticipating tough times ahead.

Soon we will witness business models changing, wherein there will be far more remote workers in any organisation. In such a scenario, what’s the best cyber security practices that your customers should adopt? How would you, as a security solution provider, compliment here?
Yes, the working model will see a drastic change. The companies would realise that a large office space is not needed and WFH is a good option to save on cost. But they have to invest in employee productivity monitoring tools and need to ensure secure VPN connectivity to their corporate network.

Apart from secure VPN, they also need to deploy enhanced security solutions like end point protection, DLP, and 2FA among others. We, as a security solutions provider, are educating the customers about such solutions and setting up free /trail versions to take care of their immediate needs. In case the customer has budget or if the lockdown continues, they may invest in these solutions.

What’s your message to customers so that they are assured of full support today and in the days to come?
Our customers are fully assured of the ongoing support that we are providing today and will continue to do so in the future as well. As mentioned above, about 100 of our engineers are geared with 24×7 WFH solutions and are already supporting our customers. Our message is very clear – we are with our customers in such difficult times. Like other hard times which world has seen before, this too shall pass. We have to be strong and patient enough to win this battle together.


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