Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

remote employee working on laptop from alternate location

Given recent events, the cyber security landscape has changed and may have exposed new vulnerabilities to cyber systems. With many government and private industries quickly shifted to telework, threat actors are taking advantage of these changes and are posing an increased risk to cyber systems with data and network vulnerabilities. According to the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), as with most emerging threats, cyber-attacks are constantly evolving and tend to increase during disasters and high-profile events to take advance of such situations. These trends are providing new opportunities for threat actors.

Reduce Risk

CISA, reports that cyber attackers are using phishing messages or applications masked as trusted sources against newly —and often rapidly—deployed remote access and teleworking infrastructure. To protect your organization and employees, it is imperative to reduce the risk of cyber threats by building programs that effectively manage these threats. The establishment and practice of a cybersecurity program or system of protection that reduces risk from cyberattacks is essential to business continuity and data protection of any organization’s workforce. This can include assessing and securing cyber systems, developing a skilled and compliant workforce, and building a skilled information technology (IT) security team to detect and resolve threats.

Training and Exercising

If your organization has not built, trained, or exercised a cybersecurity program, now is certainly the time to do so. SummitET can help you develop a tailored program to meet your business needs. Our top-in-field experts perform penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, social engineering testing, workforce, and information technology team training, and exercises that test incident action planning, processes, and procedures.

With emerging threats changing the business and workforce environment, organization’s must protect assets, data, and members of its workforce. To learn more about SummitET’s cybersecurity preparedness solutions or to speak directly to one of our experts.

For official, verified cyber-related alerts, questions, or to report a cyber issue, visit the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) website at: https://www.cisa.gov/insights.

Seven Benefits of Native Social Media Drills and Exercises

We have identified seven benefits of using native social media accounts to conduct crisis communications drills and exercises.

remote employee working on laptop from alternate location

Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

With many industries quickly shifting to telework, cyber-threat actors are taking advantage of new vulnerabilities to cyber systems. Learn to reduce these threats.

Communication complexities

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

We are living in unprecedented times and facing new challenges requiring different approaches and well-practiced communication skill sets. This blog addresses how to approach individual and organizational communication strength training.

street sign with the words preparedness is not an accident

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Identifying what to prepare your business for can be a challenge. Find out where to start.

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

Convoluted incidents, the political environment, and natural disasters create challenging communication situations. Recognizing underlying driving factors, our own strengths and weaknesses, and having the ability to identify and address communication complexities affect our ability to respond properly and communicate effectively. We are living in unprecedented times and facing new challenges requiring different approaches and well-practiced communication skill sets. This blog addresses how to approach individual and organizational communication strength training and how to increase understanding.

Addressing Biases

Culture, generation, personal history, perception, bias, prejudice and lack of understanding are just a few communication complexities adversely affecting our ability to respond properly and effectively. These complexities can and will influence how our intended audiences respond to our messages. Communication skills, like muscles, must be exercised to maintain tone and strength.  Athletic trainers teach that muscle response should be challenged from different vantage points. Preparing risk and crisis communication muscles should be exercised from different vantage points as well. Failure to exercise our communication muscles may reduce communication gains, inhibit communication growth and result in communication atrophy.

One component of communication strength training is awareness of biases and prejudices, and increasing understanding of communication complexities. It is important to recognize how personal history shapes our perspective and communication style. Our communication skills should allow us to “listen for understanding, not agreement.” Realizing the same things can mean different things to different people demonstrates the importance of active listening skills and the complexities of effective communication.

Preparing Your Organization or Agency

So, how do organizations and agencies prepare to respond to the convergence of several sensitive and challenging matters impacting our communities today?  As futurist and philosopher Alvin Toffler once wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” We need to develop and exercise our fast-twitch communication muscles. Regularly exercising helps to be prepared to respond when needed, enhances organizational ability to respond to unpredictable events, provides organizational agility, and integrates specific, high intensity training. Organizations and agencies, much like athletes, should specifically train to optimize their fast-twitch communication muscles to strengthen their strategic communication plans.

Exercising these communication skills enables businesses to sprint through difficult times, jump over obstacles, become more agile in challenging situations, and operate at peak performance levels in high intensity environments. Being an elite strategic communicator requires development of communication muscles to identify and address the complexities of communication.

Diversity and Inclusion Awareness

Learn more about how to apply these methods in your organization or agency with our featured workshop.

Current events have highlighted need for more advanced and strategic communication in uncertain times. Regardless of the position we hold or authority we have been given, at some point, we all must face our own communication complexities, strengths, and weaknesses.  Preparing your organization or agency to address communication complexities verifies our strengths, highlights our weaknesses, and provides avenues for improvement.  Communication complexities require real talk, by real people, who are well-trained, well-prepared, and ready to address real issues.

Seven Benefits of Native Social Media Drills and Exercises

We have identified seven benefits of using native social media accounts to conduct crisis communications drills and exercises.
remote employee working on laptop from alternate location

Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

With many industries quickly shifting to telework, cyber-threat actors are taking advantage of new vulnerabilities to cyber systems. Learn to reduce these threats.

Communication complexities

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

We are living in unprecedented times and facing new challenges requiring different approaches and well-practiced communication skill sets. This blog addresses how to approach individual and organizational communication strength training.

street sign with the words preparedness is not an accident

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Identifying what to prepare your business for can be a challenge. Find out where to start.

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Preparedness is something that…well…you have to prepare for. It takes time and effort to prepare for things which may occur in the future. Many of us try to plan for inevitabilities such as saving for a daughter’s wedding, planning for a child’s college education, or even pre-arranging our own funerals. Hopefully, much thought has been given to what would happen in the event of a job loss or other incidents having a negative financial and/or emotional impact on our families. Preparing for future events is an important part of life, and it is something we do routinely. However, it is important to prepare not just for expected events, but also for things that are not foreseen.

Identifying what to be prepared for can be quite the challenge. According to Dictionary.com, preparation is defined as “to make ready or suitable in advance for a particular purpose or for some use, event, etc.”

Preparedness can take many forms

Since preparedness takes many forms, let’s consider preparing for a day-hike. We need to make sure our shoes/boots and clothes are appropriate for where we are going. We need to have sufficient food and water for the duration of the hike.  The cell phone needs to be fully charged and we should notify someone of where we’re going and when we expect to return. You should also consider packing a poncho, a compass, some energy bars, something to drink/purify water, a good knife, a flashlight, sunscreen, and bug repellent. We need to prepare for weather changes, injuries, or if we leave the trail for some reason, and/or become disoriented.

Preparing for changing conditions applies not only to a day-hike, but to life in general. As you can see, anticipating, developing, and planning are important for a successful day-hike outcome.

Preparedness in Business

From a business perspective, we need to look at things in the same general way—be prepared for the expected. We should also be prepared for the unexpected and what may happen should conditions change. Some of the obvious points of concern include employee welfare, financial stability, and continued customer support during a challenging time. A Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) should be developed to help ensure the company can continue to function and support its internal and external stakeholders.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides general COOP information and planning tools. While this document is geared toward government, the overall philosophy relates to a broad spectrum of applications. It is important to note, of the first four phases of COOP activation, the first is preparedness and readiness.

Communications Planning

Communications planning is also an important part of preparedness. When an adverse event occurs, how are you going to communicate pertinent information to your audience? It is incumbent upon organizations to develop, train, and exercise a crisis communication plan.  A crisis communication plan  helps  prepare an organization to communicate accurately and confidently during an emergency. It also addresses different audiences and provides a strategy for communicating information specific to stakeholders’ interests and needs. The image of the organization can be positively or negatively impacted by public perceptions of the handling of the incident. A well- trained and practiced crisis communication plan can improve an organization for communication success.

Begin Preparing

As you can see, Preparedness Is Not an Accident®. It takes a concentrated effort to look into the future and anticipate what may happen—then figure out how you are going to deal with it. Our experts help corporations and agencies identify and address these unforeseen crises. Integrating a continuous cycle of Assessment, Planning, Solution development, Training, Exercising, and Reassessment (The APSTER ProcessTM) increases the greatest level of preparedness and ensures that Preparedness Is Not an Accident®.

Seven Benefits of Native Social Media Drills and Exercises

We have identified seven benefits of using native social media accounts to conduct crisis communications drills and exercises.

remote employee working on laptop from alternate location

Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

With many industries quickly shifting to telework, cyber-threat actors are taking advantage of new vulnerabilities to cyber systems. Learn to reduce these threats.

Communication complexities

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

We are living in unprecedented times and facing new challenges requiring different approaches and well-practiced communication skill sets. This blog addresses how to approach individual and organizational communication strength training.

street sign with the words preparedness is not an accident

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Identifying what to prepare your business for can be a challenge. Find out where to start.

Our Global Situation – How Business Can Prepare Going Forward

Our Global Situation – How Business Can Prepare Going Forward

The workplace is changing to adapt to the new global situation, thrusting millions of employees into working remotely. Business owners and leaders must navigate the “new normal” with a willingness to adapt. You may find employees are happier during the initial months of working from their homes. Studies show employees working from home report feeling less stressed overall. But what does this mean for the long-term if you decide to continue with remote work for your business?

Assessing and reassessing your workforce is essential in making viable plans for your organization and leadership. Although, not a new concept, the magnitude of COVID-19 forced leadership to suddenly transition from the traditional work environment to a remote working environment.  While most organizations have a continuity of operations plan (COOP), some leaders may have been caught off-guard by this sudden transition. For those who are unsure about how leadership functions in this new normal, SummitET compiled six-steps to address the challenges you will likely face.

1. Conduct Companywide Assessments

Before acting upon possible issues, assess yourself, your business, and your employees. Address your leadership management styles and your ability to lead affectively in a remote environment. How does the remote environment change your ability to manage product or service deliverables?

According to a Gallup poll, “leaders/managers motivate employees, build trust-based relationships, and have the ability to overcome adversity.” The good news is that these things can be accomplished remotely. Although separated by distance and having to communicate virtually, leadership characteristics are still recognizable and important for the continued success of the organization.  Recognizable leadership characteristics include being viewed as trustworthy, proactive, and organized. Each of these characteristics can instill a sense of calm throughout the organization.

Seek answers to these questions:

  • Are employees’ basic needs being met while working from home?

  • Do they have the equipment they need to perform daily tasks?

  • What affect will result from a decrease in direct peer connections?

  • How important are face-to-face, in-person interactions to your business model?

It is also imperative to assess your business capabilities and securities.

  • Do you have staff who can address your information security?

  • Should you hire a third party?

  • How does the change in workforce affect your bottom line and deliverables?

What have you learned up to this point? The assessment phase will guide you through COOP implementation and effectively and efficiently continue remote business productivity. 

2. What you can do for your team

The flexibility of your leadership before, during, and after a major change in your organization is crucial. It is easy for employees to lose trust in management without proper communication. A loss of trust can result in decline in work productivity and higher staff turnover. Both of which can impact your bottom line.

Strong leadership, “the skill of influencing people to take action, with character that inspires confidence and excellence, and maximizes their efforts towards the achievement of a goal” is critical in adapting to this new global transition.  Leadership styles vary based on organizational culture, the leader’s skill sets, and the leader’s willingness to adapt leadership traits for the common good.  Leadership is teamwork. Assess your teamwork quotient by asking employees the following:

  • What can I do to make your job easier?

  • What do you need to be more efficient?

  • How can I help you grow?

  • How can we help build a better organization, especially with this new era of working remotely? 

The remote environment proposes new challenges to the practice of effective leadership. Be creative in developing strategies to connect over the phone, by email, or via video calls. Incorporate a fun element in your team calls or find a way to learn something new about someone on a personal level.

Remember to connect often but be efficient on your calls by preplanning. For example, develop an outline of deliverables, timelines, and next steps for each team member. As a reference, consider the graphic below when developing and executing your plan.  Where do you fall in this leadership self-assessment? Are you effective, ineffective, too expansive, too focused, and/or somewhere in the middle? Information contained below may serve as a resource as you develop your leadership style.  

3. Communicate with your Stakeholders

As you would with a crisis communication plan, communicate with your stakeholders regularly. Silence may lead them to question your organization’s ability to continue operating effectively. Use existing digital channels like newsletters, webinars, virtual panel discussions, and social/digital media to enhance your communication strategies.

In direct client communications, be open and straightforward when discussing how your new environment will affect contracts and performance going forward.

4. Recognize Business Compliance is necessary, even remotely

It may be important to demonstrate to stakeholders (i.e., employees, corporate executives, clients, consumers, regulators, etc.) that compliance continues, even in a remote environment. Know what compliance issues are currently in place and determine how to maintain them in the remote working environment. Auditors and regulators will need to continually assess your business practices regardless of your situation. Review laws and tax requirements that may affect you. Nexus tax, state tax, and employment laws such as the CARES Act, etc., vary from state to state.  Ensure you can track hours and address any changes in reimbursable expenses. From the leadership perspective, recognize and adapt to those business-related issues which can improve your business position.

5. Assess and Address Cybersecurity

Working remotely has created a new cybersecurity reality. IT departments are challenged to ensure each remote employee has the necessary software, hardware, and security protocols necessary to do their job. Safeguard your employees and equipment with virtual private network securities. Enable a multifactor authentication process for employees’ emails and other web-based software programs.  Train employees to be vigilant against phishing email scams, creating strong passwords, and managing account access.

6. Overcome & Reassess

Working remotely also requires leaders and employees to overcome challenges and assess their developmental and business products. SummitET ‘s six-step APSTER Process™ assists leadership by ensuring and maintaining a consistent product development methodology. Continuous reflection and assessment will help keep your business on its forward trajectory. The APSTER Process provides a simple guideline for this process:

  1. Assessment

  2. Planning

  3. Solution Development

  4. Training

  5. Exercises

  6. Reassess

If you would like additional information on business continuity, cybersecurity, strategic communication, or the APSTER Process, connect with SummitET’s experts for a consult. Remember, preparedness is not an accident℠. Strategic planning and preparation are crucial for meeting your long-term goals and objectives.

Seven Benefits of Native Social Media Drills and Exercises

We have identified seven benefits of using native social media accounts to conduct crisis communications drills and exercises.

remote employee working on laptop from alternate location

Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

With many industries quickly shifting to telework, cyber-threat actors are taking advantage of new vulnerabilities to cyber systems. Learn to reduce these threats.

Communication complexities

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

We are living in unprecedented times and facing new challenges requiring different approaches and well-practiced communication skill sets. This blog addresses how to approach individual and organizational communication strength training.

street sign with the words preparedness is not an accident

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Identifying what to prepare your business for can be a challenge. Find out where to start.

Upcoming Virtual Interactive Workshops

SummitET is recognized by SHRM and offers Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit www.shrmcertification.org. 

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Flattening the Social Media Monitoring Curve

Flattening the Social Media Monitoring Curve

Social media provides means to search for and solicit information for general and specific inquiries, verify information, and establish situational awareness to aid in decision-making. Many open-source tools feature searches based on a keyword, geographic location, or content, including trending topics, overall sentiment, and popular hashtags.  Advanced tools offer additional search functionality such as paid-for third party monitoring platforms.

However, the first step to successful social listening and active monitoring is identifying information requirements to reduce excess social noise and maximize the amount of relevant information regarding your organization’s decision-making.

To facilitate decision-making, two kinds of information requirements organizations should consider are public perception information and operational information requirements.

Public Perception

Public perception information requirements focus on issues that could impact agency reputation and public reactions to the incident or event. These information requirements are typically broad in scope and address overall tone and sentiment of an incident or event.

levels of communication chart by SummitET experts

Operational Information

Operational information requirements focus on real-time status reports. These requirements focus on providing specific details about the incident or event.

7 Steps to Monitoring Social Media

There are several steps for ensuring your organization is positioned well to monitor incidents and events, gauge the effectiveness of messaging, and adjust communication strategies to be most effective.

Step 1: Define an Objective

What are you monitoring? Do you want to see what a news organization is reporting about the incident or event? Are you looking to see what the public is saying so that you can join the conversation to bring more credibility to the message?

Step 2: Decide Where to Monitor

Where do you need to “hang out” digitally? Just like any outreach and marketing program, it’s driven by where your stakeholders convene. The notion of the social audience should reflect not only your established audience, but also potential partners, businesses and other organizations that depend upon your message. Ask yourself, where are my intended audience’s communication footprints?

Step 3: Decide What to Monitor

Recall that monitoring is keyword-based, and thus selection of the right keywords is important. At the very least, you should be tracking your organization name, programs and services, names of key staff members, industry keywords, and your tagline or most recent messaging efforts.

Step 4: Prioritize

Social media is vast. Conversations are happening across many channels and social networks all over the world. Your monitoring must be strategic. Using the triage A.I.R. method (below) across social media messages allows focus on what’s most important.

Levels of communication chart include the acronym A.I.R.

Step 5: Develop a Plan

A well-developed crisis communication plan is essential. It is also imperative to have a plan to engage with your stakeholders during routine situations. A social media plan and strategy can inform your outreach strategy regardless of the scenario you face.

Step 6: Listen First

As with any conversation, listen first. Before we open our digital mouths, we should listen and observe the culture of the online social community, the interactions between members, and how influence is expressed. Be quick to listen, careful to speak, and do not reply from your immediate emotional response. The community can be private or open, but regardless of where the community “resides” online, you need to get to know its members, stakeholders, and community norms.

Step 7: Build Relationships

Make sure the first time the public is hearing your message is not during a crisis or emergency. As you identify the circles of social media influence, begin forming relationships and building trust with the thought-leaders around you. Take a minute to identify influencers and figure out who is driving the conversations. Growing and nurturing these relationships are the art of any social effort. Comment on blogs, chat with them digitally, and get to know them personally and professionally. When you develop a voice, and become a resource for others, people will listen to you and spread your message based on your established relationships.

Social media management workshop for communication professionals

Virtual Workshop

Join our experts in this interactive virtual workshop and learn how to apply social media monitoring skills to your risk communication plan.

Seven Benefits of Native Social Media Drills and Exercises

We have identified seven benefits of using native social media accounts to conduct crisis communications drills and exercises.

remote employee working on laptop from alternate location

Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

With many industries quickly shifting to telework, cyber-threat actors are taking advantage of new vulnerabilities to cyber systems. Learn to reduce these threats.

Communication complexities

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

We are living in unprecedented times and facing new challenges requiring different approaches and well-practiced communication skill sets. This blog addresses how to approach individual and organizational communication strength training.

street sign with the words preparedness is not an accident

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Identifying what to prepare your business for can be a challenge. Find out where to start.

Maintaining Trust and Preparing for Change During a Crisis

Maintaining Trust and Preparing for Change During a Crisis

Open, accurate, and consistent communication is one of the most important parts of an effective crisis response. Maintaining trust, particularly during a crisis when information is fluid and oftentimes contradictory, is critical. In order to address these concerns and maintain trust, research has shown communicators must prepare people for changes.

Without clear signals why policies might be changing, public trust in official institutions may be reduced. With a new and changing situation, communicators must prepare people for contradictions. As an example, by caveating statements with phrases such as “based on current trends,” or “based on what we know now,” their audiences can sense the information being provided is fluid and may change as new information becomes available.

Changing policies and date-driven information during a pandemic crisis should not be a big surprise. New information comes in daily and organizations are working to incorporate this new information into guidelines and key messages. However, these changes in messaging can reduce credibility, lower trust, and create confusion if organizations do not prepare people for changes. Public trust can be maintained if change is not due to intentional deception, but rather a changing landscape of new information. However, we must openly, clearly, and consistently remind people information may change.

Communicate Openly, Often & Repeatedly

We must also communicate openly, honestly, and often during a crisis. It’s important to develop effective key messages and to bolster them with good supporting information. The key messages serve as an anchor to which other messages are tethered, and they need to be repeated throughout the crisis. Messages should be crafted so that they are informative and helpful for people to gain a better understanding of the situation. For information that is needed, but not yet available, you should let people know that you are working to find the answers to their questions. Communicators must tell people what is known and what is not known. What is not known should be followed by communicating what steps will be taken in order to find answers to the unknowns.

Being Silent

It’s also important to remember that silence is not golden. If you are silent, it can:

  • Be seen as an indifference or as an affirmation of wrongdoing

  • Allows critics, opportunists, and news media to define the crisis, your motives, and your actions

  • Challenges and invites critics and opportunists to rally public opinion against you

Trust is difficult to regain

Research conducted by Dr. Vincent Covello shows that it takes as long as two years to regain trust. We must make smart choices quickly to maintain trust as the crisis continues to play out and evolve. If we are unable to make smart choices and implement those choices, then there is great potential trust will fall or we may lose it altogether.

If you remember one thing, make it this: trust is hard to regain. If we can make smart choices quickly, always provide truthful information, and acknowledge information will change as circumstances change, we can maintain trust throughout the crisis. Ultimately, when it comes to maintaining trust, honesty is always the best policy – even if that means telling people something they do not want to hear.

Want to learn more about creating a strategic communications plan? If your organization would like further information on message maps or would like to receive a free crisis communication assessment to develop a crisis communications plan, please contact our experts at info@summitet.com or https://summitet.com/contact-us.

Our Strategic Communication team stands at the ready to forecast cascading threats and develop public communication strategies to influence behavior, build confidence, and maintain the public trust.

Upcoming Virtual Interactive Workshops

SummitET is recognized by SHRM and offers Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit www.shrmcertification.org. 

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Seven Benefits of Native Social Media Drills and Exercises

We have identified seven benefits of using native social media accounts to conduct crisis communications drills and exercises.

remote employee working on laptop from alternate location

Combating Cyber Threats in Telework Environments

With many industries quickly shifting to telework, cyber-threat actors are taking advantage of new vulnerabilities to cyber systems. Learn to reduce these threats.

Communication complexities

Communication Complexities: Real Talk

We are living in unprecedented times and facing new challenges requiring different approaches and well-practiced communication skill sets. This blog addresses how to approach individual and organizational communication strength training.

street sign with the words preparedness is not an accident

Preparedness is Not an Accident®

Identifying what to prepare your business for can be a challenge. Find out where to start.