Partner technical specialist Ernesto Broersma on the threats that have increased since lockdown started
What is the biggest challenge that your partners (VARs, MSPs, etc) have faced during the mass shift to remote working, and how have you helped them combat these?
For us, the biggest challenge we have seen has been enabling all their workforce to work remotely. Many of them had a portion of colleagues enabled to work from home but shifting their entire workforce has been the biggest task they've had to contend with.
Linked to this, the next big challenge was securing that remote workforce, while not limiting efficiency.
At mimecast, all the channel teams have been making sure all our conversations have been as relevant as possible on order to best help them secure workforces and coming up with creative and engaging ways keep the dialogue with them open. For example, we have organised mapping days rather than call out days, blocking out time each week and making diaries as visible as possible.
How has your own business had to adapt to continue meeting the demands of the channel and end-users?
Traditionally we liked to have as many face-to-face partner engagements as possible, so we've had to adapt very quickly to move all engagement online via video conferencing tools and phone calls.
We have had to come up with innovative ideas to keep partners and customers aware of our new solutions and technologies and keep them engaged with us through new digital marketing initiatives. For example, we have built a terrific and very well received webinar series covering our multi-zone product portfolio - the channel love it and we see this type of virtual enablement as an initiative that we can take forward beyond lockdown.
Enablement has also been a big shift for us - from getting teams and Sales Engineers on site to train to having a virtual session. Training days are now short and sweet sessions, more engaging with dynamic content. We're also looking to see what efficiency learnings we can take from this post COVID 19.
What has surprised you most about your channel partners over the last two months?
In one word, their resilience. The whole channel team has been impressed by how smoothly the wheels have kept turning despite the incredibly difficult situation.
They are open to our new ideas and initiatives, no matter how absurd they may seem at first and almost always add their own spin to what we suggest.The culture we have with our partners has remained intact - in fact for certain partners, this change in work practices and work patterns has even strengthened the relationships. This has truly surprised and inspired the whole Mimecast channel team.
Is there a project that you've worked on over the last few months that you are particularly proud of?
The huge drive for us to move from physical marketing to a virtual model. We have seen numerous partners having to shift their marketing efforts overnight and we have had to ramp the same way. Within weeks, our organisation has moved an event we planned to launch physically in November into a virtual summit that we will deliver globally in June, and the event we have crafted is relevant for partners and customers equally.
What do you expect to be the long-term impact of our new working from home culture, on both the channel and working culture in general?
We think this will bring about a fundamental change to how organisations view remote working. They will now embrace remote working as they can see the benefits it brings to their organisation and that employees can function the same, if not better, working remotely or flexibility for part of their working week.
We have also seen that, that when used properly, video conferencing is a powerful tool that can be as good as face-to-face meetings. This could save thousands of pounds on T&E expenses as instead of people travel round the country having face to face meetings, they can now have a video conference. This could also lead to cleaner cities and lessen the impact on the environment.
Which types of threats have you seen an increase of since the shift to mass remote working?
The most common types of threats we saw since the shift to mass remote working were wide widespread spam and phishing campaign designed to trick recipients into clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
We also saw an increase in impersonation attacks in which malicious actor pretends to be a colleague or acquaintance to trick the victim into unintentionally installing malware.
Phishing with the help of website spoofing was more commonly seen. This is where a fake website, which appears authentic at first glance, is designed to entice private users and employees to enter personal data (gender, age, e-mail and physical address, etc.). Since the beginning of the crisis, the number of spoofed websites has increased considerably.
Finally, we also saw a rise in attempted attacks on partners and third-party providers as criminals will try to enter their target's network via any means possible including exploiting potentially vulnerabilities in third-party applications.
What tips do you have for remote workers to make sure that their home set-up is secure?
We have the following tips to ensure proper cyber hygiene when work from home:
- Maintain regular working hours, but also plan breaks to avoid breaches caused by human error.
- If sharing your home with others, designate a workspace and ground rules.
- Be clear from the outset as to where your working space is, and the hours you'll be working.
- Take precautions around web security at home. For example, ensure your home router is secure, does not use a generic default password, is utilising encryption and has its firewall switched on.
- Keep an eye on bandwidth, which may be more limited than usual due to the increased numbers of people working from home.
- Resist the temptation to use unfamiliar WiFi for work or private browsing.
- Ensure you're using encryption.
- Supplement encryption with a Virtual Private Network.
- Use Multi-factor/two-factor (MFA/2FA) authentication whenever possible.
- Be aware of increased phishing and other forms of cyberattack through electronic communication.
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