March 17, 2020

7 Tips for Effective Remote Working

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (in a hermetically-sealed bunker), you’ll be aware of the increased instances of Coronavirus worldwide and the demand for remote working that this has created.

We don’t want to add to the number of fear-mongering articles that are already online. However, with the increased focus on remote working as a solution to prevent the spread of the virus, we thought we’d chip in.

If you feel the need to take precautions against the virus, here are our 7 top tips on remote working.

In the UK alone, more than 1.54 million people work from home. This increase is largely due to the benefits of remote working. In fact, if your business offers remote working opportunities you can expect:

And that’s before considering the benefits gained by doing your part to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus (if it comes to that). So without further ado here are our 7 top tips for working remotely: 

Working Space

To get anything done and be as productive as possible you need to feel comfortable in your surroundings. Get plenty of natural light if possible, and if not consider investing in a daylight lamp, as this will help with keeping your alert and therefore productive. Rather than cooping yourself up in your room or on the couch -- spaces that are associated with leisure time -- dedicate a specific room or surface in your home to work.

Ensure that you are not hunched over and that your laptop is at a good height and if possible use a second monitor to maximise your productivity. If possible consider a stand-up desk so you can switch between sitting and standing.

Dependent on your personality get storage so your desk is uncluttered and use touches such as a low maintenance plant and some personal mementoes such as a photo frame will help inspire you. Make it your own space where you can shut the door and focus.

And make sure you choose the right music to fir the task you are trying to accomplish.

If you are working remotely on a temporary basis due to isolation then you will want to keep any costs to a minimum using the kitchen table is fine especially if you will not experience to many distractions (Tip: Use headphones and play music to help keep you focused)

Desk Chair

As you will be spending some considerable time at your desk it makes sense to invest in a good, ergonomically-correct and comfortable chair. If you are comfortable you will be more effective at your work. When you're uncomfortable it's hard to stay focused and productive.

Feel free to economise on other things. You don’t have to own a desk; you can move from the dining room table to den to the patio. But see your chair as an investment, not an expense.

Use the Correct Tools 

As with the chair ensure you get the possible tools to work. This includes a laptop, noise-cancelling headphones with a decent mic (we use a Jabra headset) and a good webcam (the ones built into laptops are generally only OK at a push) alongside a good phone be it mobile or a desk version.

But don’t forget none of the above is of any use if you do not have good broadband either at home or in the local co-working space or coffee shop!

And finally chose your software of choice carefully. We believe G Suite is the best for collaboration and fits in perfectly with a remote workers scenario as within its portfolio is Meet, Chat and Voice alongside its granular document sharing capabilities.

Plan Your Day & Create a Routine

Generally speaking, we can focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes. After that, we need a 15 to 20 minute break so we can recharge and get ready to achieve high performance on our next task.

So do this: Split your day into 90-minute windows. Instead of thinking about an 8-, 6-, or 10-hour workday, split your day into four or five 90-minute windows. That way, you will have, say, four tasks you will get done a lot more efficiently.

It might help to create a morning and nighttime routine.

The first thing you do in the morning is the most important thing you will do that day because it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

So prepare for that first thing the night before.

Make a list. Make a few notes. Review information. Prime yourself to hit the ground running for the next day.

Communicate!

Working from home might help you focus on your work in the short term, but it can also make you feel cut off the larger operation happening in the office. 

Instant messaging and videoconferencing tools (as mentioned under tools) can make it easy to check in with coworkers and remind you how your work is contributing to the big picture.

Working remotely requires you to overcommunicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Overcommunicating doesn't necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself.

Exercise & Eat

Get up and move around every so often. If you are so inclined even go for a jog, whatever works for you but make sure you take a break from the screen.

Ensure that you drink water and eat healthily and at regular times as you would if you were based in an office.

See remote working as an advantage

The flexibility that working from home or remotely gives you means no lost time commuting, easy for you to get work done at odd hours -- hours you choose to work.

On your terms.

Contact

If you would like more information on how to set up your business for remote working with G Suite, please don't hesitate to get in touch, we would be delighted to have a chat about how we can help you transition to G Suite and make the most of the cloud.

info@cobry.co.uk / 0333 789 0102

March 9, 2020

Security & Compliance in The Cloud

Security & compliance is higher up on organisations' agenda than ever before and it’s not surprising. The five main trends identified by the National Cyber Security Centre in the period between October 2018 and April 2019 highlighted 5 main areas of vulnerability.

Incident trends

There has been significant use of tools and scripts to try and guess users’ passwords. This has almost become the daily norm for Office 365 deployments with attacks now being mounted at scale across the Internet without ever having a foothold within the corporate infrastructure. 

A successful login will give access to corporate data stored in all Office 365 services. For example, both SharePoint and Exchange can be compromised, as well as any third-party services an enterprise has linked to Azure AD.

Password spraying

The most common attack affecting Office 365 is password spraying, which attempts a small number of commonly used passwords against multiple accounts over a long period of time. In most cases, attackers aren’t after just one specific account. This doesn’t tend to trigger account lockouts because the limit of failed attempts is not reached, and as a result this can make it much harder for IT security teams to spot them.

A recent report stated that 60% of Office 365 and G Suite tenants were targeted with IMAP-based password-spraying attacks. However, it's important to note that G Suite administrators can disable IMAP connectivity, mitigating the risk to their G Suite users.

Credential stuffing

On a smaller scale, we have also seen credential stuffing. This takes pairs of usernames and passwords from leaked data sets and tries them against other services, such as Office 365.

This is difficult to detect in logs as an attacker may only need a single attempt to successfully log in if the stolen details match those of the user's Office 365 account.

Similarly to password spraying, this targeted method can be combatted by disabling IMAP connectivity within G Suite.

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks prevent organisations from using their computers or accessing their data, typically by encrypting files and folders. Once this hold is in place, the hackers request payment to release the organisation’s data and allow them to get back to work. 

It’s important to note, however, that no Google file formats can be affected by this as they are not traditional files like Word or Excel, they are in fact web files with no physical storage location. This means that organisations that use G Suite and store their files within Google Drive are instantly protected from ransomware attacks without having to shell out huge amounts of money on additional security products.

Email Protection

Gmail has long since been the standard-bearer for security & compliance around email through anti-phishing measures and high levels of spam protection for users. This has covered for the most part both consumer and G Suite users. 

Confidential Mode - users can help protect sensitive information from unauthorised access using Gmail confidential mode. Recipients of messages in confidential mode don't have the option to forward, copy, print, or download messages, including attachments. Users can set a message expiration date, revoke message access at any time, and require an SMS verification code to access messages.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) -  analyses the files in your organization’s Team Drives for sensitive content. You can set up policy-based actions that will be triggered when any sensitive content is detected.

Gmail Security Sandbox - a sandbox detects the presence of previously unknown malware in attachments by virtually "executing" them in a private, secure sandbox environment, and analyzing the side effects on the operating system to determine malicious behaviour.

Staff Training

All businesses need to be proactive in training their staff for GDPR. When new staff members come on board, they should receive data management training, and all members of the team should understand how your business specifically uses data. 

Allied to that, IT partners such as Cobry should be engaged to teach best practices within the organisation through training sessions, either in person or through webinars. 

2SV

One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from being hacked is 2SV.

There are multiple 2SV methods, including SMS Text, Google Prompts on mobile devices, and physical USB Security Keys.

Using 2-Step Verification (2SV) provides users with a better option to secure their accounts. As well as 2SV over an encrypted connection, users can also block unauthorised access to their accounts with Google Prompt which delivers real-time prompts, telling the user when they have logged into another device.

This update comes through as a pop-up notification on the Google app. This allows users to answer “yes” or “no” when asked, “are you logging in?”

Allied to that, additional control can be gained from deploying Cloud Identity. For full details please click here.

How Cobry Helps

One of the most comforting services Cobry offers is a full Security & Compliance Review. 

This can give you valuable insight into your organisation's security & compliance setup. You can find out more here, and you can also get in touch via the button below.

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