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Technology veterans have been swift to point out that had the COVID pandemic happened just a few years ago – say ten – then the economic effects would have been a significant factor worse than experienced at present. That’s partly down to better levels of domestic internet connectivity (faster, more available broadband) and because communications technologies were advanced enough to allow for an immediate switch to remote video and remote voice comms.
There were a few wrinkles in progress (with some hilarious examples of working-from-home missteps going viral), but many organisations were at least able to cope. Some customer care and contact centre sections of the economy not only coped but thrived, in many cases providing a much-needed element of human contact for beleaguered and marooned customers and end-users.
But among IT professionals, the most vocal during lockdown(s) were undoubtedly the security professionals. Suddenly, the manageable perimeter of the average network had transformed into thousands of remote endpoints, and users were piggybacking on domestic ISP provisions, sharing bandwidth with remote learners and those videos chatting to loved ones. Consumer hardware (the kids’ laptops, for instance) suddenly had to become workstations, and personal smartphones became businesses’ comms tools.
As economies began to move back towards their previous shape in the last six months, it’s become apparent that remote working not only worked well enough but was pretty attractive: employees loved the flexibility, employers got more productive staff happy not to commute.
But “working well enough” are three words that sow dread in the hearts of cybersecurity specialists. Ensuring security, system resilience, and data protection in vital business communications have become a necessary obsession. In brief, most organisations got lucky: now, they need to transform their security for their comms platforms in parallel with any organisational reordering.
For customer care and contact centre operators, securing communications lies at the heart of transformation. But alongside, many operators have acknowledged the role of the other parts of the “business toolkit” in daily use. No organisation exists in a secluded “walled garden” of technology (although Apple, for one, might love the notion). Most teams use plenty of other platforms than its omnichannel platform at the core: Office 365, Trello, Teams, Zoho, Salesforce, Jira, NetSuite, Google Drive, and many more besides.
Can all communications – including data flowing to multiple clouds and vital digital services – be secured in a massively distributed workforce? Perhaps so. Platforms like RingCentral MVP are all about drawing together communications protocols and platforms to give operators and users a unified experience yet achieving these objectives with high-end security in place.
RingCentral takes an omnichannel ethos and extends it out to encompass many common applications (see here for a complete list), ensuring the safety of its users, wherever they might be working and on whichever element of the “work toolkit.” The company carefully curates some common integrations, ensuring that sensitive data is protected by the omnichannel core of the MVP and Contact centre platforms. The company is one of the few in this vertical hitting the C5: 2020 criteria for secure cloud computing (Cloud Computing Compliance Criteria Catalogue) from the Federal Office for Information Security in Germany (BSI Germany).
But for those household-name platforms (like Microsoft Office) that are a standard feature of the work desktop, the company’s RingCentral Labs has created the initial set of Add-Ins to its platform itself. There is, therefore, a readymade box of tools to link the different threads of the remote (or in-office) worker’s technology environment. It’s a safe desktop, centred on the comms platform, ready to roll out to any employee at home or in the office.
Safety and cyber security have to remain central to any software deployed by remote workers, who are, by definition, operating outside a company’s “traditional” perimeter of protection that would normally operate around the office or call centre. An acronym now much more widely recognised than before the lockdown periods forced by the Coronavirus is E2EE (end-to-end encryption). For highly sensitive communications held over, for instance, home broadband connections, complete encryption offers companies significant protection from dangerous data loss.
By encrypting data at each endpoint (the customer and the call centre operator, for instance), there is little chance of messages being interpreted – all comms are unreadable even by the software vendors. However, some high-end features might become unavailable, like closed-captioning and live transcriptions, for example, because these are performed remotely by algorithms located on a central cloud service.
For RingCentral users, that’s a choice that can be made on the fly, according to circumstances – “standard” encryption with full features available, or E2EE for highly sensitive communications, voice calls, video conferences, and so on. The cloud-based solution’s full feature set is available everywhere – users or the organisation choose what’s appropriate and when.
Platforms can also provide their own identity access management features to ensure users’ identities are confirmed – or plug into an existing IAM service, wherever that may be hosted. Flexibility does not necessarily have to equate to a lessening of security, and importantly, security features aren’t replicated, making overall cyber protection oversight easier for security teams.
Keeping a remote workforce secure is no easy task. But if the core of any business operation is communication, it clearly pays to place security at the heart of the comms platform. With RingCentral’s offerings, organisations can protect their data, and integrate safely with the business tools staff use, wherever they may be.
To read more about these security-focused facilities, you can visit RingCentral’s Trust Centre.
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