Frustrated computer user

Many Ohio county DD Boards have shifted to a majority remote workforce over the past week, and the rest are likely to follow. We are hearing of challenges / roadblocks as we talk with our DD board clients across the state.  Boards have different technology mixes so issues will vary.

Key Message:  If you are on the fence, evaluate your situation and act NOW to avoid three potential bottlenecks:

Telecom Bandwidth

The spike in remote workers is causing internet bandwidth issues for boards which rely on remote access (like a VPN) to use network-based resources. Even boards with robust work-from-home processes never planned for this many employees to work remotely at the same time. Add in the extra traffic from videoconferences and VoIP phone systems, and it’s no wonder the bandwidth is running low.

A leader at one of the larger boards said they were already working with their telecom provider to add additional connections and bandwidth for critical system access. She advised that “County Boards of DD should talk to their telecom reps ASAP if they have similar needs because I expect that resource to get overwhelmed quickly.” Many telecoms have set up COVID-19 response efforts to speed response to the growing needs.

VPN Licenses

Running out of VPN licenses could cause another interruption to remote workers. Again, most boards – in fact, most organizations of all types – haven’t prepared infrastructure for this global pandemic scenario. We’re hearing reports of employees being blocked by too many simultaneous VPN connection attempts and not enough licenses to go around. Check your VPN’s setup and get more VPN licenses if needed.

Personal Devices

Most agencies don’t have enough company-managed laptops to go around in a situation like this. Probably you are wrestling with whether – and how – to allow staff to connect to agency resources using their personal computers. Allowing network connections from personal devices opens the door for malware to jump from that unmanaged personal computer to sensitive network assets. There’s no easy answer here. Your board’s leadership will need to decide if connecting personal devices so employees can work is worth the increased risk of data breach or ransomware. We’re seeing some organizations temporarily relax personal device restrictions to buy time while setting up better options. (Not a recommendation – just an observation.)

We have another article, “Avoiding Attacks During COVID-19 Work-From-Home”, that suggests ways to secure and/or reduce the number of personal devices hitting on your network moving forward.

We hope that highlighting some of these issues helps your agency better prepare for the road ahead. Stay safe, and if we can do anything to support you, please contact us at 216-503-0355 or gpritts@eagleconsultingpartners.com.

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