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Covid 19 and beyond: tackling remote working security challenges in the financial sector

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Covid 19 and beyond: tackling remote working security challenges in the financial sector 1

By Joe McManus, director of security at Canonical

For any business the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes to their operations, and financial services (FS) organisations are no exception to this. From insurance to banking, we’ve seen a seismic shift to almost entirely remote workforces as trading floors and offices have become kitchens and bedrooms. It’s been a real test that some FS businesses have been well-equipped to handle, however, many organisations have not been prepared for it. According to research by  Leesman only a small percentage of staff at 700,000 employees worked remotely on a consistent basis prior to the pandemic. The study revealed that 52 percent of employees have little to no experience of working from home, and even of those who do, 83 percent typically do so for just one day a week or less.

Naturally, there are a number of challenges which need to be addressed with a large-scale remote working model. Security, perhaps unsurprisingly, is top of this list, especially for the highly regulated financial services industry. The sector has traditionally been slow to roll out remote working programmes prior to the pandemic for this reason. There are worries over data access control, VPNs, and rapid changes to the infrastructure required to cope with increased volume of teleworkers. The challenge is two fold – including the management of existing risks now amplified by the wide-scale shift to remote working, but also in protecting networks and staff from an increasingly advanced cyber threat as cybercriminals look to exploit the heightened uncertainty resulting from this global situation.

As this new way of working becomes the norm for FS businesses, It’s imperative for them to address these security challenges now, enabling them to efficiently navigate the current landscape, as well as prepare themselves for lasting impact as we look beyond the pandemic and firms start to develop and initiate business recovery strategies.

 From a device perspective, there is now a newly-created and significantly dispersed end-point network which requires managing. It’s likely that most FS businesses will have enabled some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure they are complying with current regulations, however, the need for MFA has been heightened during the pandemic to reduce the risk of brute force attacks related to passwords. Perhaps more significantly though, an out-of-date mindset which sees security as ‘behind the firewall, or not’ will lead to insufficient controls when it comes to managing the inevitable combination of bring your own device (BYOD) and managed devices that comes with a remote workforce.

A multi-layered approach

FS businesses can reduce cyber threats in a number of different ways but a  multi-layered strategy is the most effective and robust approach.  Firstly, it’s important that staff are well trained and educated to ensure they are hypervigilant to potential cyberattacks such as phishing attacks and mindful of sensitive data and regulations. Secondly, this recourse also requires effective monitoring of home networks given that they are now an extension of the office.

Joe McManus

Joe McManus

Beyond this, the hardware itself needs to be secured. Security can be both baked into devices, as well as delivered via software updates which are easily implementable and scalable across the increased number of end-points.  Those using Ubuntu Desktop can benefit from unattended-upgrades and Livepatch to protect endpoints from any new threats or discovered vulnerabilities, removing the need for IT intervention, especially useful in the current climate. Using a corporate proxy server or VPN can also help to protect and monitor the newly extended network, while staff can also restrict access to harmful sites through enabling low-cost DNS filtering services like OpenDNS.

VPNs: added security but don’t ignore the potential risks

Unsurprisingly, there’s been an increase in VPN usage as a result of the rise in remote workers, with employees wanting remote access to company resources. Beyond authenticating users and providing access control, VPNs can also be used for more substantial enterprise protections. This includes the capability to leverage corporate network filtering such as Intrusion Detection and Protection Systems (IDS/IPS), as well as additional situational awareness tools such as NetFlow to monitor network traffic. The issue is that businesses have deployed VPN endpoints in such rapid time, there is a heightened chance of a mistaking occurring during network segmentation. If this happens, there is the possibility that it could expose company resources more widely than wanted and for financial services business this could be intellectual property or sensitive information

 Consider cloud security

Covid-19 has created a unique operational environment for many financial institutions. The cloud isn’t exactly a new concept to these businesses, with financial services slowly becoming a major adopter of the technology. However, for many, cloud technology has really come into its own and the pandemic has highlighted its ability to provide resilience and scalability when needed. Having said this, the adoption of cloud-based platforms and services also carries risks, and FS companies making such a  transition need to carefully deliberate how they secure their own services and data. A common presumption is that security will be managed for them by their cloud provider, but this varies depending on the service. It’s therefore important for FS businesses to carry out the same due diligence when selecting a cloud platform as they would when deploying their own infrastructure. Alternatively, they should look to employ managed services which include maintenance, security and scalability of their cloud infrastructure provided by a trusted partner. This will enable in-house IT teams to turn their focus to priorities elsewhere.

According to a recent Gartner CFO survey, 74% of CFOs intend to shift some employees to remote work permanently. This data is an example of the lasting effects the current pandemic will have on the way business and their staff work, especially for those who were resistant to adopting remote strategies before. Capital One is one example of a financial services organisation that recently disclosed that they will not have any broad return to work until at least September.

As  remote working policies become much more commonplace in the financial services sector, and the proliferation of cloud resources and VPN services continue to grow it’s fundamental that IT teams overcome the associated security risks.  For many adapting to this “new normal” will be key to being prepared for both the immediate and longer-term future.

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Staff training crucial for SME recovery post-COVID

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Staff training crucial for SME recovery post-COVID 2
  • 47% of UK’s top performing SMEs provide regular, formalised training for all staff
  • Despite this, 15% of small businesses report to never training staff
  • New findings come as part of an independent, holistic study into small business success, commissioned by Allica Bank to support British businesses

A new study, commissioned by business bank, Allica Bank, shows that the practice of regular training correlates strongly with high performance in SMEs and will be vital to businesses’ prospects of a swift recovery post-COVID. The study analysed data from over 1,000 companies and ranked their success on a scale that evaluated factors including productivity, growth, consistency and outlook.

Post-pandemic, many businesses will be focussing on day-to-day survival; it might be easy to forget long-term planning, of which staff training is a key component. Allica Bank’s findings indicate that small businesses should incorporate training programmes into their recovery strategy to ensure long-term viability. Training will improve morale, retention and boost the company’s credibility.

The study showed that routine staff training is a common characteristic among the most successful SMEs. 47% of the 100 highest scorers on the SME Performance Index provided training for employees at least on a quarterly basis. However, nearly half of all small businesses (46%) only provide training once a year or less, inadvertently hindering their growth and success prospects.

Frequency of training also differed across sectors. 34% of legal businesses provide training for staff once a month compared to just 6% in the hospitality and leisure sector. Whilst there will always be sector-specific disparities, firms in all industries can benefit from boosting and improving their training programmes.

Chris Weller, Chief Commercial Officer, Allica Bank, said:

With so many concerns and barriers for small businesses to navigate in the immediate term, it can be difficult for managers to focus on the training and development of their teams. However, if COVID has taught us anything, it is that adaptability and resilience are invaluable.

“The provision of regular training not only builds these characteristics into teams but serves to maintain a sense of value and togetherness that will boost morale, aide retention and improve performance – all of which contribute to the ongoing success of a business.”

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to training, but it’s vital for business longevity that staff are supported with a formalised programme of some description. Customers will respond well to a company whose employees demonstrate enthusiasm and competence. Employees also need to feel that their skills are constantly being improved and expanding. These skills will contribute to the success of a company and this will feed through to the bottom line.”

Allica Bank’s SME Guide to Success identified six ‘rules to success’ that were more likely to be displayed by top-performing SMEs compared to their counterparts. The full report contains a wealth of additional data and insight into each of these topics.

As part of its mission to empower small businesses, Allica Bank is making the findings freely available and running a series of free online workshops with relevant partner organisations for businesses to attend.

Aliya Vigor-Robertson, CEO, JourneyHR, the expert partner for Allica Bank’s training workshop, adds:

Staff need direction and the knowledge that they are advancing in their career to stay motivated and engaged at work. An unmotivated, disengaged team is no recipe for long-term success and will ultimately hamper a business. Team members that lack tangible support from above are less likely to identify with their role and its duties, which is a completely natural reaction.

“Regular staff training is a key component of tangible support and will make the team feel secure in their career development. A happy team with purpose and direction will contribute to a thriving business”

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What Is Globalization

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What Is Globalization 3

What is globalization? Globalization, or inter-connectedness, is the ever-growing process of integration and interaction among countries, individuals, businesses, and even governments all over the world. Globalization has rapidly accelerated in recent years because of advances in communication and transportation technology. This allows us to be able to get from one country to another quickly and easily. This also allows us to communicate freely use the Internet to connect with our friends and families around the world.

So what is globalization and why is it important? Globalization will benefit many people around the world who are looking to travel more freely, save money on their monthly expenditure, be able to meet new friends and relatives from different parts of the world, learn more about a new culture, and take part in trade and commerce.

Globalization will benefit all of us because there will be more opportunities for everyone to participate in global markets. People in different countries have access to resources, information, and products they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. There are also many opportunities for people to work at home.

Globalization is not just an economic boon, but it can also benefit all of us in other ways. As globalization continues, the boundaries between individuals, states, and countries will become less porous. There will be fewer political conflicts in the world, less violence, and a greater sense of cooperation, tolerance, and peace. These are all positive impacts of globalization.

However, globalization has also created some negative effects as well. It has caused people from one country to move to another to take advantage of globalization. This is also leading to some negative consequences such as a reduction of jobs in some countries. The effects of globalization also include increased competition and unemployment in many countries. Due to this decrease in jobs, wages are dropping.

The only way we can stop globalization is to make sure that we know what it is and what its benefits are. We must understand globalization and its impact on our lives and make sure we are ready to accept the changes that it may bring. if it is inevitable in the future.

The key is to be educated about globalization. There are plenty of books, websites, and television shows that explain how globalization is impacting us and the rest of the world. Globalization is not always bad, but we must be careful not to lose sight of its positives.

In the end, globalization is here to stay, so we must learn to live with it and embrace its benefits. We cannot fight it and try to fight it off, but we must learn to deal with it. And we can do that by educating ourselves. Globalization is here to stay for the long term but we must learn to adapt to it and learn how to live with it.

Globalization can be beneficial for all of us, but it has also caused many problems in the past. There were many cases of unfair trade practices and there was the rise of unfair labor practices. Some people argue that globalization has also reduced the pay of most Americans. So while globalization is definitely not all bad, we should understand that the benefits of globalization are not unlimited. and that we must be willing to give it some limitations and accept some sacrifices.

The biggest benefit of globalization is the ability for all of us to communicate with each other easily. The ability to connect with other people across borders makes it possible to share ideas, information, and knowledge. Since we can communicate with each other, the chances of getting a good price for our goods or services goes up dramatically. and it also allows us to save money by buying in bulk. This also translates to more savings on our end.

As mentioned earlier, globalization has brought about a change in the way people work and live because people are no longer tied down by jobs. They now have the freedom to travel and do what they enjoy.

As globalization continues, there will always be some people who are unhappy with globalization and are afraid to open their eyes to new opportunities that are available to them. But that is okay; this is part of the process of globalization.

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What Is Microsoft Teams

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What Is Microsoft Teams 4

Microsoft Teams is an application and web-based collaboration tool that combines chat, videos, online collaboration, document storage, and collaboration with other applications. The service integrates well with the Microsoft Office 365 business solution and features numerous extensions that can integrate well with other non-Microsoft products, like SharePoint. There are many different versions of Microsoft Teams but here are some of the basic functions that all versions offer.

Teams also offers a variety of options for people to create and customize their own groups. This feature provides a way for people to organize their teams within Microsoft Teams. For example, there may be teams for business projects and then another group for personal tasks or social tasks. There are also different types of teams which include teams for social, personal and business.

Microsoft Teams allows users to make lists of files and documents and view them from different perspectives such as in the document viewer or from another Microsoft Teams project. This feature is called “project pane”, and it shows a summary of each of the files in the project. There are also sections for all files in the project that you can see in the “Files” pane.

Microsoft Teams gives users the ability to share information and collaborate on these shared items. A user can create a document that has other people add comments or attach files and then save the document to a list so that other people can view the document in a Microsoft Teams document viewer.

Another feature of Teams is the ability for you to invite other team members to work with you. A user can join a team and then invite other team members to collaborate with the team members who join the team. You can also invite team members to join a new team. When a team member joins a new team, they will be automatically added to your existing teams and the teams will merge together.

Microsoft Teams provides a number of different ways for you to collaborate with others and see the files and documents of others. These include groups and threads in the main document viewer. You can search your files using the search box in the document viewer and you can share your documents with others by email.

Microsoft Teams provides users with a variety of different tools to help you organize and manage your teams. You can assign members to specific teams, assign permissions to members, create custom groups, organize tasks and events, and organize files and documents into groups.

Microsoft Teams can help you build a team and create a collaboration culture that you want to create at your organization. You can use this tool to build effective teams and increase productivity and improve your relationships within the organization. Microsoft Teams offers a variety of options to help you get started and become more productive quickly and easily.

Teams are created easily. If you have several departments within your organization and need to create a team for each department you can do this easily. Teams are made easy and you can get your teams up and running quickly.

One of the best features of Microsoft Teams is the ability to invite people from around the world and let them work with the same documents and projects. You can have the documents and projects organized and shared in the same way throughout the entire organization, regardless of what country they were created in. You can create a similar project in the same language that they were created in and share it with other employees in the organization.

One of the most amazing features of Microsoft Teams is the ability to have multiple team members edit and view the documents and files in the same way. With Microsoft Teams you can have a document and have people edit the same document at the same time without any problems. The changes that you make can also be seen by other team members and can be modified by them without ever needing to send the document again.

Microsoft Teams is the perfect tool for building a powerful and effective collaboration culture. You can share documents and files in the same way that the rest of the organization can view the information.

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