The use of online technologies has become important to our daily lives now more than ever, as South Africans find new ways to connect to friends, family, school and working environments. The country is adapting to working through a mobile and remote workforce in efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but there are secondary considerations to keep in mind: ensuring secure digital access.
“When we say ‘secure’, we mean this two-fold,” explains Jonathan Duncan – Secure Power VP for Anglophone Africa at Schneider Electric. “Firstly, cybersecurity needs to be catered for as operations move to online environments different to that of the traditional workplace. Secondly, network reliability and uptime need to be secured, as interruptions in connectivity can lead to fatal disruptions to workflow and loss of productivity in an already volatile environment.”
“Various international reports have recently surfaced which show that cyber-criminals are preying on the current fear and uncertainty regarding the pandemic, distributing links to supposedly helpful content which is in fact malicious in nature,” says Duncan. “In addition to fearmongering, there are often fewer security defences in action as businesses leave their cyber defences in the hands of their employees’ remote networks. This is a threat to both individual and company data security.”
Companies should ensure that their mobile workforce is equipped with sufficient anti-virus software to protect against cyber threats. Additionally, safe online behaviour should be encouraged. Some simple tips include: not opening emails from strangers; using strong passwords and changing them frequently; thinking twice before clicking on links; and regularly backing up your data.
Avoiding connection disruptions
“Network traffic has drastically increased as people turn to online channels for work, socialising and entertainment,” says Duncan. For example, according to data from CNET, 70% more people are participating in group video calls using Facebook Messenger week-over-week, and the amount of time spent on those group video calls has doubled globally. “Locally, NAP Africa, one of South Africa’s major internet exchange point providers, has also seen a substantial increase in internet traffic and has urged several internet service providers to upgrade their capacity at its exchange points.”
“There are three things South Africans should do to ensure their digital access is as reliable as possible amidst the current fight for bandwidth,” Duncan explains:
- See what your options are: Those working from residences, either through cable or fibre optics, should enquire with their service provider about options for better speed and higher data. Some providers may have free options, while others may require additional fees. Either way, it is worth considering. You should also ask your provider if they will limit your internet speed if you reach certain data thresholds or if there is excessive network traffic, commonly referred to as “throttling”.
- Look at your settings: Check to see if your router is being used as a service provider hotspot. If it is, other people on your network may be slowing it down. You can disable this in your settings, and this should free up some bandwidth.
- Consider battery backup: Investigate the battery backup run time of your router. Metro and long-haul systems have extended backup so your network can be online for hours in the event of a local outage, if your battery has enough run time. You might want to consider adding an additional battery backup solution to increase your network availability.
“Considering the increasing importance of digital access for today’s mobile workforce, a secure connection is not something to take chances on. These simple steps can help people ensure that their systems are protected, and they can stay connected,” concludes Duncan from Schneider Electric.
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About Schneider Electric
At Schneider, we believe access to energy and digital is a basic human right. We empower all to make the most of their energy and resources, ensuring Life Is On everywhere, for everyone, at every moment. We provide energy and automation digital solutions for efficiency and sustainability. We combine world-leading energy technologies, real-time automation, software and services into integrated solutions for Homes, Buildings, Data Centers, Infrastructure and Industries. We are committed to unleash the infinite possibilities of an open, global, innovative community that is passionate about our Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values. For more information, go to www.se.com/za.