Cybersecurity & Remote Workers: How to Protect Your Data & OT Infrastructure

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic created an environment ripe for bad actors to exploit, cybersecurity was a top priority at many companies. Most industries identified cybersecurity as a serious threat to their business continuity and longevity. Since the onset of COVID-19, 75% of business leaders view cybersecurity as a top priority to while navigating the new normal.

It’s easy to see why. According to IBM’s annual Cost of a Data Breach Study, the average data breach will cost companies nearly $4 million, a significant sum at a time when most organizations are already facing serious business disruptions.

Unfortunately, these risks are amplified in a remote work environment as unsecured connections, careless employees, and unsophisticated data privacy standards put company data at risk.

These risks are amplified in Operational Technology (OT), as compromised data and systems can lead to catastrophic incidents and put lives at risk. Therefore, as companies increasingly embrace a hybrid workforce and the remote operations capacity that comes with it, it’s vitally important to ensure that access to your organization’s OT systems are cyber-secure.

Here are three steps that every organization can take today to begin this process.

#1 Ensure that remote workers operate in a safe OT environment.

From fraud attempts to compromised connections, remote workers face a deluge of cybersecurity threats that put companies at risk. In this environment, employees need a comprehensive, secure remote operations platform that provides:

  • Protocol isolation
  • VDI access – no data-in-transit
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Application and system segmentation
  • Time-based access control
  • Session logging
  • Screen recording

These zero-trust features provide a level of accountability for employees while also ensuring safe access to critical infrastructure.

#2 Implement zero-trust technology.

In the past several years, companies have spent extravagant sums to fortify their on-site defensive posture. Unfortunately, those efforts are useless when it comes to keeping a hybrid workforce cyber-secure.

While VPN services and other security-focused technologies offer a basic level of network access protection, remote operations require more granular authorization and monitoring controls for access to critical systems. A zero-trust architecture is needed, as it combines strong multi-factor authentication, segmented system authorization, and full user access monitoring and recording.

#3 Require moderated directional secure file transfer capability to move files into an OT environment.

The past several years have seen an unprecedented number of data breaches, and billions of digital records have been compromised in the process. The consequences can be much more devastating to public safety in OT.

However, simple strategies, like moderated unidirectional secure file transfer, can provide better safeguards to ensure files moved into the OT environment are audited and validated.

For example, enabling a technician to update the software on a critical system should require that only unidirectional access is allowed from the remote technician, and a supervisor must also approve the file to be moved. In addition, the integrity of the file should be validated and also checked for malware. These features are often optional, but companies should make them standard when public safety is at stake. The extra step can help prevent a consequential data or network breach leading to a disastrous outcome.


Cybersecurity is a bottom-line issue for every organization. The economic implications of COVID-19 are forcing many companies to make difficult concessions, which increases the importance of addressing cyber threats with an integrated zero-trust user access and remote operations platform.

Simply put, getting the most proverbial bang for your buck means turning to solutions that include cybersecurity as a built-in, baseline part of their product.

How Remote Operations Capacity Improves Organizational Efficiency

The Coronavirus pandemic is proving to be one of the most disruptive forces of our generation. In addition to being a prolific public health emergency that’s tragically cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, the economic implications have been vast and far-reaching.

As a result, companies of every size in nearly every sector are contending with a new financial reality. Shrinking consumer demand, decreased revenues, and increased costs associated with safety and cybersecurity, will collectively force organizations to assess their priorities and maximize their efficiency.

In this environment, optimizing workflows, mitigating pain points, and otherwise increasing agility will be critical to ensuring operational continuity and long-term success.  These pain points extend to industrial control systems in critical industries such as Energy, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing and Transportation.  Remote operations capacity, the ability to communicate and collaborate from anywhere and interact with these critical infrastructure systems, can help organizations gain new operational efficiencies.

Here’s how.

#1 Access and optimize a global talent pool.

Moving forward, it’s clear that a hybrid workforce that accommodates in-person, remote, and distributed teams will be a defining feature of the future of work.

To make this change successfully, teams will need more than a Zoom account and a Slack chat. They need to operate critical infrastructure, diagnose problems, implement solutions, and safely and securely collaborate with on-site employees. Most importantly, they need to be able to do this from anywhere at any time.

In doing so, companies gain access to a global cadre of ready professionals who will help address pressing problems with once inaccessible talent. Optimizing a global talent pool allows companies to access the most qualified from around the world, but, without the right tools, it’s a bottleneck with costly implications.

Whether you’re accommodating an international organization or hiring individual talent abroad, remote operations capacity is key to maximizing efficiency.

#2 Monitor and maintain decentralized and multi-site infrastructure.

Multi-site workspaces are especially difficult to manage during a pandemic. Not only is this work less tenable as safety restrictions and other measures can hinder travel and in-person meetings, but it’s profoundly inefficient.

Remote operations capacity equips employees to monitor and maintain infrastructure from anywhere, giving them the ability to:

  • Centrally monitor on-site operations
  • Diagnose and troubleshoot alarms and issues
  • Instruct, guide, and dispatch on-site personnel
  • Remotely operate, startup, and shutdown physical infrastructure.

This capacity can reduce travel and personnel costs while ensuring that critical infrastructure is optimized and well-run.

#3 Reduce costs associated with on-site facilities management.

Even for employees working on-site, remote operations capacity allows for new efficiencies that maximize growth and opportunity. For instance, this technology allows workers to easily collaborate with remote staff and experts.

Similarly, as social distancing protocols keep group meetings to a minimum, this technology ensures that organizations operate reliably with reduced on-site staffing. Most importantly, all employees – whether on-site or remote – can quickly and easily respond to incidents and real-time needs from anywhere.


As companies are forced to do more with less, the right tools can be the difference between flourishing and failure. Remote operations capacity isn’t the only ingredient for successfully navigating this challenging time, but it’s a powerful tool for maximizing efficiency without compromise.