Document Communications Security & Continuity During a Shift to Telework
A dramatic, unprecedented shift in the global workforce is here, with more people working from home than ever before in the modern era. This situation can be incredibly stressful for everyone, particularly those making tremendous sacrifices in the healthcare industry. IT departments serving them (and others) may feel like they’re being asked to move mountains in order to keep everything from collapsing.
Suddenly the infrastructure you have on-site is out of reach. The tools you had in place for a few working from home or mobile employees are suddenly in demand by the entire staff. Everyone needs to stay connected, but hackers know this is going to be making you more vulnerable to attack, so what you do has to keep things safe. What can you do to keep business communications flowing smoothly?
Getting Documents Where They Need to Go: 4 IT Challenges for Mass-Teleworking
Here are some key challenges facing you as you rapidly ramp up to build resilient communications for the new normal.
1. Maintaining Connectivity
Employees are no longer able to walk files to each other’s desks, or to the fax machine, or to the MFP. How are documents going to get where they need to go safely? If you use shared drives for secure storage, is your VPN ready to take the extra requests? Are employees being forced to jump through extra hoops that drag down efficiency and morale?
Cultivating Patience and Acceptance
You’ll want to be mindful of demands vs capacity as they shift with your staff, but also recognize there are aspects that you won’t be able to directly control. Ultimately working from home means that employees are going to be using home internet connections. What they have at home may have been sufficient for personal use during their off hours, but underpowered for work. Not only that, but the overall demand on internet infrastructure is spiking dramatically as people work, learn, hang out, and watch movies from home in greater numbers than ever before. That’s likely going to cause hiccups, connection fluctuations, possible downtime, and slowdowns.
Help your users understand that there may be limitations to what is possible now, but that things will get better as infrastructure companies rush to adapt. You don’t want to erode their trust in the IT team and solutions. You also don’t want them searching for Shadow IT alternatives in the hopes of finding something better.
2. Maintaining Security
Keeping employees connected is essential, but it’s also extremely important that they’re securely connected. Of course, you could have them attach documents to emails – they’re fast, easy, and something staff are already familiar with.
Unfortunately while email is convenient, it’s also horribly insecure. Some IT professionals say you should never use conventional email to send anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable putting on a postcard. The underlying message format was simply never designed for the business use it sees today.
You need a solution that will protect sensitive financials, customers’ private information, trade secrets and more.
3. Maintaining Compliance
As lines of communication are stretched across greater distances using solutions that are either new to your organization or were not planned for heavy use, it’s essential to keep in mind any privacy/security regulations you are beholden to. Many solutions were not designed with the recordkeeping and specific security requirements called for by laws like HIPAA, GDPR, and FERPA.
4. Preventing the Growth of Shadow IT
“Shadow IT” refers to any solutions that are used by individuals or departments outside the knowledge or control of your IT department. This also means they can easily be outside the view of staff charged with ensuring your organization maintains regulatory compliance.
Believe it or not, Shadow IT is a huge and growing problem. Gartner studies have found that it represents 30-40% of IT spending.
For example, imagine that a member of your customer support team is so frustrated with slow communications tools that they’ve secretly switched to using consumer-grade filesharing sites to get their job done. Maybe your accounting department has purchased their own SaaS financial solution without clearing it with your security experts.
In both cases, what may streamline their workflow in the short term may also cause major breach or regulatory problems for your organization in future. These groups are operating without IT visibility, but they’re your staff using your data, and that means your organization will be on the hook when things go wrong.
While obviously you should be mandating that employees avoid use of Shadow IT tools, that won’t guarantee it doesn’t happen. It’s essential that you provide your employees with secure options that are compliant and fast, as well as easy to use. The more frustrated they are with your systems, the more likely they are to look elsewhere for tools.
Don’t Worry. There is Help Available, Fast
The good news is that, thanks to the Cloud, you’re not stuck with what you have now. Modern Cloud-hosted solutions can be deployed extremely quickly (within days) and remotely to solve the problems you’re having now. Pick the right ones, and they’ll continue to pay major dividends into the future…whatever your workforce’s distribution in that future looks like.
What Tool is Right for You?
When choosing the communications method to keep file and document transfers flowing between your distributed workforce and your clients and partners, it’s key to think through your current and future needs.
While many organizations relied upon certified mail and FedEx overnight document shipments, those methods aren’t really feasible with everyone working from home. Email is the obvious option, but as we’ve already discussed, it’s also inherently insecure. More and more companies are turning to one or both of these efficient, secure, and compliant document communications methods.
Yes, fax! This communications method isn’t just still alive, it’s thriving and ready to help your staff work from home. Instead of clunky machines, they can use the computers or mobile devices they already have along with their internet connection. Learn How
Secure File Exchange (aka Managed File Transfer)
For documents, but also any data that couldn’t be sent through a fax, these tools are tremendously powerful, but also fraught with issues. Pick the right one however, and you’ll be ready for almost any situation.
Fax: Evolved to Meet Today’s Needs
Fax persists to this day as a communications standard for its blend of ease of use with security/regulatory compliance. However, many organizations are used to housing their fax solutions onsite, either as traditional fax machines or as fax-enabled MFPs. Does a large-scale shift to telework herald the end of the fax era?
It doesn’t have to. Certainly, the time has come to leave traditional fax machines and MFP fax kits behind, but fax still has an important role to play. The key to bringing fax to your employees wherever they are is to go digital. A software fax over IP (FoIP) solution can bring the same secure, compliant communications to their laptops, phones, or tablets anywhere there’s an internet connection.
Gaps are closed, privacy is preserved, and workflows continue to work efficiently (if not more so). Organizations already communicating with your staff via fax won’t even notice the difference.
Thanks to the connectors and apps available for modern MFPs, the best FoIP solutions can also integrate with your MFP fleet for easy use when staff are back in the office.
Benefits Beyond Mobility
Not only that, but there are substantial other benefits delivered by a switch to FoIP. Copper phone lines are expensive (and being phased out around the world). Traditional fax solutions use a lot of consumables as well: toner, paper, spare parts, etc. They’re also notoriously unreliable in an era where we’re used to business solutions “just working”.
Digital fax solutions can also provide greater visibility into who’s using them and how they’re being used. This can also help keep costs down while aiding compliance.
Picking the Right Fax over IP Solution
While only you can decide which solution is right for your organization, we’d like to suggest XM Fax. XM Fax delivers the level of resilience, cost-effectiveness, regulatory compliance, and ease of use necessary to keep document communications flowing safely and securely in the new normal.
Secure File Exchange: Send & Receive Files of Any Shape & Size – Safely
If your organization has sensitive data communications needs that extend beyond printable documents, or if you’ve never relied on the fax in the past, it’s time to explore implementing secure file exchange solutions.
Fax is very, very good at what it does, but that doesn’t include sending high resolution photos, video, sound, etc. For that sort of content, you need something different.
Whatever You Need, Sent Wherever You Need it to Go
A good file exchange solution is so powerful because it’s so adaptable, within the limits of the solution (and a good solution will have very high file size limits). That means it’ll be there to send pretty much anything your organization needs, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Keep It Safe
Encryption is a must have for any sort of solution you can trust with your organization’s data. 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) is also becoming the gold standard for low user effort, high security reward. It’s certainly not impenetrable, but your solution should have it, and ideally the ability for administrators to mandate 2FA for users.
The Catch: Usability
The tradeoff with migrating to a file transfer solution over fax is that you leave fax’s ubiquity behind. There are a great many file transfer products on the market, and you cannot assume your recipient will be using the same one. This makes it essential that the solution you pick be accessible and intuitive for anyone to use. You don’t want staff tied up explaining to outside partners or customers how to open their message over and over. You don’t want people opting for less secure alternatives because they don’t want to deal with yours.
Because so many breaches are caused (directly or indirectly) through user error, usability is actually an essential aspect of maintaining proper security. Don’t let your choice introduce unnecessary new barriers for authorized users in the name of keeping invaders out.
Picking the Right Secure File Exchange Solution
XM SendSecure delivers on the above requirements, and more. In addition to encryption, automatic virus scanning, and 2-factor authentication, XM SendSecure leverages ephemeral storage. This means that all files uploaded to the solution for exchange are automatically deleted after a set period of time (determined by the user and/or administrator). This keeps copies from being stumbled across later and being used by mistake or for nefarious purposes.
XM SendSecure has also been designed for the ground up with the ability to send files in any format and up to 5 terabytes in size, while utilizing complete automated recordkeeping to assist regulatory compliance. Any actions with the files are tracked, down to the last byte.
Finally, the solution does all of this while being remarkably easy to use. Sending a file with XM SendSecure is no more difficult than sending an email. Recipients outside your organization do not need an account or training to access what you’re trying to send them. Not only that, but they can actually use your account, as guests, to securely send files to you.
Ready to Learn More?
Both XM Fax and XM SendSecure are available via secure (ISO/IEC 27001 and PCI DSS certified) Cloud hosting and can be deployed to your organization in a matter of days. Region-locked hosting ensures that your data is stored only in US, Canadian, or EU facilities as required by your data sovereignty needs.
XMedius experts are ready to help you on your journey with a consultation, customized demo, or even a free trial. Reach out to us to request whatever works best for you.