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What’s in demand as India works from home

What’s in demand as India works from home
As with most countries across the globe, India is also fighting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak through social distancing measures.
As with most countries across the globe, India is also fighting to contain the COVID-19 outbreak through social distancing measures. The government has announced a complete restriction of movement in the country for three weeks and asked companies to allow employees to work from home.

The concept of work from home is not as popular in India as it may be in more developed economies. This is mainly because the infrastructure in India is not entirely reliable, with power and internet outages a common issue at home. However, given the current situation, companies have scrambled to put together Business Continuity Plans (BCP) that ensure their employees can work from home.

Working from home has given rise to a slew of security-related concerns that many companies have not had to deal with before. Much of this has to deal with data security, but there are also specific physical security concerns that admins had to focus on.

Infrastructure for remote connectivity

The biggest fear that Indian companies faced as they began to allow employees to work from home were the condition of network infrastructure. Speaking to, Kunal Bhogal, Chief Design Officer at IIRIS Consulting, said that Indian infrastructure is not ready to support such a massive level of remote connectivity.

“Even before I get to the security issues, I need to point out that the load we are putting on the current infrastructure could result in significant downtimes,” Bhogal said. “The large companies may have robust BCP plans that could help them through this time, but startups and SMEs wouldn’t have any BCP practices because it would require them to replicate their infrastructure, and this would mean more investment.”

As this whole crisis was unprecedented, many companies found that their employees didn’t even have internet connections at home. This prompted massive orders for internet dongles, which was soon out of stock and remained so because most of them were made in China. If the internet connection was available, there were not enough laptops for everyone. As stocks of new laptops depleted quickly, companies turned to refurbished laptops until they too because challenging to procure.

Some of the largest broadband service providers ramped up their services, but fixed-line connections only account for about 6 percent of internet connectivity in India. Many companies were also unsure of allowing their operations to be run from a residential network where they couldn’t ensure cybersecurity.

Security concerns

In recent years, India has grown to become a hub that handles data processing for some of the largest global corporates across verticals. This itself makes the data they handle sensitive, but it becomes even more complicated when the processes involve sectors like health care or high-end research.

“The chances of a physical security breach while an employee works from home may be minimal but cannot be dismissed,” Bhogal said. “There are several large manufacturing companies that own intellectual property that insist that their data remains within protected spaces and cannot be taken out due to security reasons. For them, work from home offers a fresh set of challenges.”

Cloud storage and VPNs are other solutions that have risen in demand during this period as well. But Bhogal pointed out that VPNs become a liability when employees try to access sites like video streaming. And when working from home, there are more chances of an employee multitasking to access an online streaming site compared to when he is in office.

Then there are also concerns about office spaces becoming vulnerable when much of its employees are not using it.

What market is going to pick up now?

Although more companies and individuals may be interested in cloud storage at the moment, Bhogal does not see this as a rise in demand for cloud-based security systems in India. However, he does feel that more people would be interested in command and control solutions.

“Command and control was something that was considered as a luxury to have,” Bhogal said. “But now I see it becoming more of a mainstream solution for even smaller companies, who might opt for it as a service. This is the market that is going to pick up. This is something that should draw the attention of companies. You might have made large investments in security, but in a situation like this, who would manage it and how would you make sure there is a way to enable response in the least possible time.”

The Command center as a Service may be more attractive to the smaller companies because of the initial investment requirements when going for a complete purchase. More significantly, a subscription is more feasible in a temporary situation like this because once things get back to normal, customers may not need it.
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