The topic of remote and hybrid work offers much fodder for discussion among federal professionals: how it’s helped establish work/life balance for some, promoted a new level of productivity for many, and presented unique IT and security headaches for others. But the common thread is that it’s here to stay and federal IT professionals are finding ways to weave it into the long-term work strategy, breathing new life into IT modernization initiatives and acquisition.
To unpack this further, Government Technology Insider Editor Chelsea Barone continued her conversation with the MCP team about IT modernization across the federal space, this time digging into the nuances of remote and hybrid work and the necessary technology to support these massive IT overhauls.
Joined by MCP’s Mike Buchko, VP of Sales and Marketing, Sharon Kinikin, Contracts Manager and HR Manager, and JD Reddy, Senior Sales Engineer, Barone and the team delved into challenges and misconceptions, particularly around security in a disparate work environment.
“We don’t think of security the minute we get home,” remarked Kinikin, noting the more casual approach to at-home network security. “Whenever we’re in the office, walking in, we’re very aware [and understand that] our IT needs to be secure… Now that we’re at home, the internet is there, and we don’t think about it. We just kind of log in and we don’t think about how there are these threats…because we’re not behind a secure firewall at work.” In fact, ransomware hacks skyrocketed 148 percent in March 2020, immediately following the bulk of the workforce moving to a remote desktop.
So, what have federal IT decision makers learned about mitigating these threats over the last year and half?
Buchko explained that it’s not as simple as integrating a new cybersecurity tool and then “Voila, problem solved.” “You have to look at the whole fabric of what’s new now,” he said. “It’s a new environment, and we need to approach the problem differently.”
To explain the evolving structure of the current workplace and concepts like containerization, Buchko and Reddy likened the architecture to trees and forests. In this analogy, trees represent a collection of domains that share the same sort of repository or directory (i.e., a company, a website, an agency, etc.), and forests are a collection of trees, or a collection of those domain groups.
“The purpose of all these [tools] is to then apply specific policies to these different collections, whether it be a smaller domain, or a bigger tree, or a much bigger, overarching forest,” explained Reddy. This means that part of a secure remote and hybrid work environment is the ability to easily apply policy and procedure to the appropriate trees and forests, so to speak.
This brought the discussion to the topic of automation, and its crucial role in helping federal agencies navigate through sometimes daunting integration and modernization processes. According to the MCP team, embracing automation is a pivotal step in effectively managing mountains of precious federal data, and the tools designed to make that easier. Without a healthy appetite for automation, the road towards IT modernization looks much more arduous for agencies than it needs to.
Watch the full discussion with the MCP team on traversing through the remote and hybrid work forest here.