Critical technologies for keeping remote workers afloat and secure

In situations where it makes financial sense, agencies can purchase and own an on-premise server that allows all of their telework solutions to be accessible to only authorized users and that also ensures transmission security.

These last few weeks have seen tremendous changes in the marketplace from the impact of COVID-19. One of the most significant changes so far has been the massive shift to remote, home-based workforces. This change disproportionately affects government employees who must still deliver essential services to their communities.

There are several ways that IT architecture can help government agencies transition their employees transition to remote work. Due to their affordability, cloud service providers are viewed as a common solution by many companies and agencies. However, these solutions often emphasize transmission security over access security, which prevents unauthorized access to the meetings and servers.

While many large agencies can afford the additional security measures necessary to truly make cloud service a secure option, this can be a challenge for smaller municipalities, counties and local governments. However, there is another option to ensure that remote working solutions remain secure.

Enabling secure remote work

In situations where it makes financial sense, agencies can purchase and own an on-premise server that allows all of their telework solutions to be accessible to only authorized users and that also ensures transmission security. Applications such as video and web conferencing, audio services, chat systems, wiki-based and project document tools can reside directly on the server that lives and operates behind the firewall.  

These dedicated servers prevent third-party access to the session data, including audio streams when using the device’s audio (as telephone conference connections are generally not secure and represent an enormous security risk). Another key security feature of on-premise servers that host productivity platforms is that they are generally not visible to hackers and, therefore, represent much less of a security risk than servers that are exposed to the public internet.

While the implementation and adoption of these different communication platforms may seem daunting -- particularly for smaller governments that do not currently have the tools necessary to promote remote work options -- there is a silver lining. In the past, an event such as the coronavirus outbreak would have surely crippled governmental entities or placed innumerable numbers of employees at unnecessary risk. Today’s technologies, however, allow delivery of government services during this national crisis, but the ability to do this successfully lies in implementing safe, secure and reliable solutions.

In addition to placing a server behind a firewall, agencies can employ a VPN, which prohibits unauthorized access and further enhances security. VPNs can also provide an additional layer of protection when they are configured to enforce checks on IP addresses, which allow access from only pre-defined geographic sites.

For many small agencies that are currently assessing their options to support employees working from home during the pandemic, on-premise servers with remote working tools offer a more secure and more affordable option. Larger agencies that want to enhance their security options should also consider an on-premise solution. It may ultimately offer a better return on investment than a cloud service and the additional security features that must be implemented along with it.

As events related to the spread of coronavirus continue to unfold, the coming months will likely make work very challenging. With the right solutions in place, however, government agencies can continue to deliver essential services and information to the communities and populations that they serve.

To ensure success, IT managers must learn about the best, most secure options for maintaining the integrity of their networks without breaking the bank. They must also understand what tools their workforce needs to operate remotely successfully. The right solution may include any combination of video and web conferencing, audio services, chat functionality, wiki-based and project document tools. One of the best moves that any government can make is to begin talking with trusted industry partners that can help them understand how to implement safe and secure solutions during this historic pandemic.

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