Cyber Warriors Sound Warning On Working From Home

Cyber warriors on NATO’s eastern edge are warning that the growing number of people working from home globally due to the pandemic is increasing vulnerability to cyber attacks.

The Baltic state of Estonia hosts two cyber facilities for the Western military alliance — set up following a series of cyber attacks from neighbour Russia more than a decade ago.

“Large scale use of remote work has attracted spies, thieves and thugs,” Jaak Tarien, head of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), told AFP in an interview.

The increased amount of information travelling between institutional servers and home networks is creating new challenges for employers.

'Large scale use of remote work has attracted spies, thieves and thugs,' says Jaak Tarien, head of NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence ‘Large scale use of remote work has attracted spies, thieves and thugs,’ says Jaak Tarien, head of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence Photo: AFP / Raigo Pajula

“Tackling these new challenges is complicated and requires a lot of resources as well as a different kind of approach,” Tarien said.

“We are likely only scratching the surface in assessing the magnitude of malicious activities taking place in the Covid-era busy cyberspace.”

An EU-wide survey in September found that around a third of employees were working from home.

The NATO Cyber Range CR14 centre was set up after a series of cyber attacks on Estonian websites in 2007 The NATO Cyber Range CR14 centre was set up after a series of cyber attacks on Estonian websites in 2007 Photo: AFP / Raigo Pajula

The concerns are echoed at NATO’s Cyber Range — a heavily-guarded facility protected by barbed wire in the centre of the capital Tallinn run by Estonian defence forces.

The server rooms inside serve as a platform for NATO cyber security exercises and training.

“Specialists have set up the work infrastructure, but they cannot control the way people use their home internet or how secure it is,” said Mihkel Tikk, head of the Estonian defence ministry’s cyber policy department.

Tikk said the

Working from home requires software-defined wide-area networks at home

Managed service provider Masergy Communications Inc. today announced two new offerings in its software-defined wide-area network portfolio that make it easier for people to work remotely.

The new services fall under the umbrella brand of “SD-WAN Work From Anywhere solutions” and extend Masergy’s current managed service to the millions of people now working out of the office. This enables businesses to give workers the same level of network and security services as they would have in the office.

Here’s the rundown on the solutions:

  • SD-WAN Secure Home includes a lightweight SD-WAN device from Fortinet. This acts as the gateway between the home network and the corporate one and provides application optimization and security capabilities. The use of an appliance simplifies deployment since the information technology department or Masergy can pre-provision it, ship it to the home worker and have the worker up and running almost instantly. The Fortinet appliance also provides access to the Masergy cloud for secure access service edge or SASE services such as network-based security services. This is available now and the price starts at $250 a month and then there are add-ons for security and unified communications bundles. But the price can also go down based on volume discounts.
  • SD-WAN On the Go is a software client that can be installed on mobile devices and laptops. The client includes a virtual private network and uses IPsec protocols to create a secure tunnel back to the company network. There is also integrated endpoint protection for threat protection. The On the Go product will be available, and although Masergy has not yet finalized pricing, it will be less than the Secure Home.

Both products are designed with zero-touch provisioning for fast setup. This is a key feature because asking users to download software, configure it and tune it

The AI partners Walmart is working with to become a software giant

  • Walmart is perhaps the best example of the commonly used mantra “every company is now a technology company”: The world’s largest retailer has invested heavily in building out its tech team to create new offerings, like express delivery. 
  • But it also partners with a slew of outside AI partners — some which it purchased — that help with operations like store cleaning, supply chain negotiations, and ad placement.  
  • “This is a company that had really focused on execution in more traditional ways of doing business and was a little behind the curve in the last few years. It’s significantly caught up,” UBS analyst Michael Lasser told Business Insider.
  • Sign up here to receive updates on all things Innovation Inc.

No company embodies the ongoing digital push underway across corporate America better than Walmart. 

Walmart has transitioned into a software behemoth over the last several years as it strives to catch up to Amazon in e-commerce. For example, it has invested in emerging technology like artificial intelligence across the enterprise, from robotic cleaners in physical stores, to applications that autonomously manage the company’s intricate web of suppliers around the globe.

While Walmart relies on vendors for some of the tech, it’s also building much of it in-house through an army of thousands of data scientists and software engineers. The system for its recently-launched express delivery offering — which relies on AI to make real-time calculations based on factors like weather conditions and labor costs to figure out the fastest way to get products to a customer’s door — was all built internally.

“This is a company that had really focused on execution in more traditional ways of doing business and was a little behind the curve in the last few years. It’s significantly caught up,” UBS analyst Michael Lasser told Business

Microsoft’s new ‘hybrid workplace’ policy will make working from home a permanent part of the mix

Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Microsoft has released new “hybrid workplace” guidance that lays out how employees can have a more flexible remote work schedule and even relocate elsewhere in the country as the tech giant continues to adjust to changing needs during the ongoing pandemic.

The Verge first reported on the internal messaging Friday, saying that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft will allow employees to work from home freely for less than 50 percent of their working week, and managers will be able to approve permanent remote work.

RELATED: Death of the HQ? Pandemic hits commercial real estate, but long-term trends still open to debate

Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, said in a note to employees that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged everyone to “think, live, and work in new ways.”

“We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture,” Hogan wrote, as reported by The Verge.

A Microsoft spokesperson also confirmed the guidelines to GeekWire, saying in a statement that the “goal is to evolve the way we work over time with intention.”

Other highlights in The Verge report include:

  • Employees who opt to WFH permanently will give up their assigned office space, but can still use “touchdown space” at Microsoft offices.
  • Employees can move across country for remote work, but compensation and benefits will change and vary depending on the company’s own geopay scale. Those who move will need to cover their own relocation expenses.
  • Microsoft will cover home office expenses for permanent remote workers.
  • Flexible working hours will be available without manager approval.

The company stressed that some roles still require access to Microsoft offices, hardware, data centers and in-person training.

Microsoft was one of the first companies

Those working from home ’happy to see’ Computer Tutor of Freeport – Business – Rockford Register Star

FREEPORT — Edward Alderman, who started operating Computer Tutor in 2007, has seen an upsurge in business as people work remotely from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alderman began to see an increase in calls for help beginning mid-March, when many people were sent home to work remotely by their companies in order to prevent spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus. He has had to fix network issues and help with printers and monitors.

As coronavirus cases have surged, so have the number of companies asking their employees to work from home, according to Forbes. Some 46% of American businesses implemented remote-work policies as of mid-February. While telecommuting has become more mainstream in recent years— the remote workforce grew 159% between 2005 and 2017 — when just 3.4% of Americans worked from home at least half of the time.

“The best part for me is the interaction with people, and seeing a smile when I am able to help them correct a problem,” Alderman said. “I love to fix problems that I am called for, and it is computers and conversation that makes my day.”

Alderman said the coronavirus has made him busier than ever, but there is a drawback. He said he sees people getting scammed while they work from home.

He said he gets calls from people who had a computer virus or were told that and also were told they had to pay money to get their computers fixed. The scams involved using their credit cards or having the victims buy gift cards to the tune of $1,000. Scammers had their victims buy gift cards from several retail outlets, and then the victim would read the codes to them on the phone.

“Computer scammers have been around for many years, and it had gone away