As an unprecedented number of employees continue to work on-site and remotely, ensuring the proper rollout of the latest IT infrastructure is crucial in securing networks and ensuring operational success. However, various state and local agencies faced challenges in attempting to aid employees in this new work environment, said Rohit Tandon, assistant commissioner and the state chief information security officer for the state of Minnesota, on September 23 during a Nextgov webinar.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued various Executive Orders that stated that any employee that could work from home was required to do so. The state government IT Services agency found itself supporting 63 percent of its workforce in a remote environment. Therefore, the agency quickly identified and categorized its employee population into the type of work they were doing and the IT services that they utilized. To ensure a secure network and operational success for employees on-site and in a remote location, the agency prohibited personal devices.

Therefore, it needed to provide proper devices for employees in remote settings to conduct the work necessary in a secure manner. However, due to constraints on the supply chain, it became a challenge to gather the required equipment needed to support remote workers.

“For many in the public and private sector, supply chain constraints became a real challenge,” Tandon said. But his team resolved this challenge with the help of previous vendors that had worked with the state.

“These positive relationships that we had with these vendors allowed us to pool our assets, and that ensured that we were successful in obtaining these devices that we needed,” Tandon said.

Additionally, even though 63 percent of the workforce was remote, the agency did not loosen its security measures. Even as they provided new equipment for remote employees, they ensured that every system met security requirements.

“We maintained our security standards and never relaxed any of our previous practices. We ensured that every system that we deployed was safely patched before being connected to our infrastructure,” Tandon said. He added that the agency utilized various security practices, like multi-factor authentication, to ensure that employees working in a remote setting can still access the resources and services they need while ensuring their networks remain secure.

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