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Scaling remote working when you can't purchase new PCs

A surge in demand for laptops, driven by the increased need for organisations to support remote working, is occurring just as the laptop manufacturing supply chain has a reduced capacity to deliver. As a result, many organisations are experiencing lengthy delays in laptop procurement, jeopardizing their short-term business continuity planning.

For many, relaxing security controls and increasing access to corporate services from employee-owned devices introduces unpalatable risks. There are already multiple examples of cyber criminals both increasing and tailoring their activity to target the growing population of remote workers. Coping with a major cyber incident at the same time as a pandemic is beyond the means of most organisations.

As the UK Government mobilises to reduce the impact to the UK and its citizens of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of today’s focus quite rightly is on expert advice. However, Government experts have for some time been evaluating approaches that can provide safer options for scaling remote working than a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model. These approaches may provide timely alternatives to procuring new laptops for organisations struggling to meet their current cost or availability needs.

A project led by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) referred to as CloudClient, looked to develop an End User Device platform that could be deployed on a range of computing devices, with built-in security that would allow organisations to share infrastructure and services without increasing risk. The programme produced a light-weight operating system (OS), now available as a commercial product that organisations within the public and private sectors have subsequently used, either to transform legacy IT that can no longer support a full desktop OS, or deploy a bootable USB stick to allow a home PC to be transformed into a secure working environment.

At a time where organisations need to be creative to explore alternatives to traditional corporate laptops, re-purposing existing hardware, converting home PCs into secure endpoints, or simply extending purchasing options to low-specification hardware can make a significant impact on an organisation’s ability to scale.

Becrypt collaborated on the NCSC CloudClient project, and one outcome is a product called Paradox- a light-weight OS that is easy to install on a USB stick or on a legacy or low-cost device. Paradox is easy to manage, with built-in and accredited security and automated patch management. Paradox supports a range of VDI and VPN clients for accessing online services, providing a flexible and cost-effective platform for rapidly scaling remote working, reducing the demand on laptop supply without increasing business risk.

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