Page 18 - Campus Technology, March/April 2020
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IT OPERATIONS keith fowlkes
Massive Operational and ERP Risks in the COVID-19 Crisis
IT operations might be the farthest thing from your mind during the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s more important than ever to focus on equipment, systems, security and IT support.
COVID-19 communications, preparation meetings, remote work planning and, of course, periodic trips to the grocery stores to clean out their supply of hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Seriously, these times could easily make you take your eyes off your systems and the risks this new crisis introduces to our ERP systems and services.
As you know, this is not business as usual. The developing risks and challenges are plentiful during these unsettling times. In thinking about how a shift from an on-site to remote workforce is going to affect many of our institutions, I would like to offer my insights on some of the challenges you may be dealing with in your own operations. If you are not facing these issues today, I believe you will be facing them soon.
Remote Workforce Equipment
and Software
As most companies and institutions do, many functional office professionals are using desktop computers for their daily work. For those that allow staff people to work from home, the need for work computer equipment is crucial. And for those that allow staff to work from home using their own personal home computers, the risks are rampant. Computer viruses, intrusion kits and unencrypted connections introduce a risk to administrative systems like no other time in history. The need
for vetted and controlled computer equipment and software environments is paramount in our organizations’ remote workplaces. A controlled remote computing environment is one of the most important keys to a successful shift to a remote workforce — so, as resources allow, provide your people (and students) with protection and resources that assist in their work and protect your systems and networks. It may cost money up front, but the benefits far outweigh the potential consequences.
Encryption and VPN for Remote Workers
The need for strong, encrypted connections to organizational networks and systems is more important than ever before. For most of those using cloud-based systems, security and encryption tools are already available to your remote workforce. For many higher ed institutions, K-12 schools and small businesses that have on-site administrative systems, the risks are massive. Many organizations have no reliable plan for 100 percent of their staff professionals to work from home. This increased load puts a huge strain on hardware and software systems for SSL and VPN encryption services. For education, many schools are just not equipped to handle the increased load on on-site systems for all of their faculty, administrators and, most concerning, students.
Controlling and managing the encrypted traffic coming into networks and systems

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