South African cloud services provider (CSP) Syrex is working closely with Microsoft South Africa to provide local organisations with a more secure way of managing the security of their remote work environments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown have caught many decision-makers off guard. Rushing to implement remote working practices have inevitably seen weak points emerge in the cyber defences of the business. With more employees than ever accessing sensitive corporate data while working from home, companies must do more to ensure the security of those environments,” says Ralph Berndt, Director, Sales at Syrex.

This has seen companies now taking the time to assess the security of remote environments. Some of the common themes raised during these assessments include how to keep employees safe from COVID-19 themed phishing attacks, how to avoid having work files being left on home computers, and how to make sure employee devices are secure (for example, their home routers).

“Even though continuous education plays a crucial role in this regard, using the right technology is instrumental to keep mission-critical data protected. With so many local businesses using the lockdown to migrate to the cloud, it is now vital to put the processes and systems in place to keep everything as secure as possible,” adds Berndt.

This is where Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365) delivers an invaluable alternative to more traditional productivity suites.

“M365 provides employees with a secure and user-friendly way to access applications and documents while still facilitating a good remote desktop experience. With several subscription plans available to help improve security in virtually any environment while helping the organisation lower its operational costs, the flexibility of such a cloud-based approach becomes invaluable.”

One of the most effective ways of securing access to systems from remote workers is to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) in M365. Much like a banking OTP (One Time PIN) sent via SMS, MFA lets employees log into key applications securely with their phones or remote devices. This additional layer of security is invaluable especially for home systems that fall outside the safety of the corporate network. Microsoft has also recently announced that MFA will be included at no cost to all M365 and Azure services.

“An indispensable tool to enable this and other features is Microsoft Active Directory. Using this, companies can add-on services such as password writeback, which allows users to self-remediate password changes, and SMS one time pins, phone calls or alternative email address verification. This reduces frustration as users can action expired or forgotten passwords themselves, instead of waiting on IT administrators,” says Berndt.

Executives can click here to complete a contact form for a Syrex representative to contact them and discuss their cloud security needs.