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With many of us continuing to work from home, Stellar Women guest Inés Rubio shares best security practices for remote work. Inés discusses how the industry is ripe for innovation and how the pandemic has proven to be the “ultimate resilience challenge” for many organizations.
Check out this episode to see how the e-discovery community is banding together and learning from each other to continue operating successfully—despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented throughout this year.
Mary Rechtoris: Hey, Stellar Women fans. I'm your host, Mary Rechtoris.
Mila Taylor: And, I'm your co-host, Mila Taylor. Stellar Women shines a light on female leaders making their mark in tech.
MR: So for this episode, Mila and I are super excited to welcome back Inés Rubio to the podcast from BSI Group where she heads information management and incident response there. How's it going?
Inés Rubio: Good, good. Thanks for having me again.
MR: Thanks for joining us. How are things in Dublin?
IR: Good. You know, basically the same as pretty much everywhere else. We are slowly trying to see how we can open up the country again. I’m still working from home. It's kind of growing on me.
MT: I must say I agree. I was actually saying the other day to my boyfriend that I don't know how I'm going to go back to my old routine. I've gotten so comfortable. My commute is one minute.
IR: My commute usually is between 45 minutes to an hour drive. So, I'm loving having a lot of time in the evenings and especially now when it's bright until quite late. It’s an interesting [change in] lifestyle and certainly gives you the chance to enjoy a lot of other things that you don't get the chance to do.
MR: I miss being able to see my friends and colleagues in the office. That part's hard. But, from a productivity standpoint, I've gotten so in the zone with this new routine that I get to sleep an hour later, work out, and then I'm online earlier than before. I like that part more. But I think it is kind of tough when it’s just me all day.
IR: It'd be nice to go back once or twice a week or something so you still have that personal touch.
MT: Yeah, and I know when Mary and JC met you, you talked about being named security leader of the year at the Dublin Tech Summit. I think security is definitely top of mind for everybody right now. What are some of the biggest concerns you have right now about security?
IR: That people don't fall into bad habits that they had managed to avoid when they were in the office. You may be browsing more online perhaps, checking websites, and clicking on news links. You should adhere to best practices and check links and messages that you might get. If someone says, “look at this funny meme or Tweet” or whatever, make sure you’re alert because you may have a false sense of security. And also, depending on how people set up their VPN or if they have a requirement to have a VPN, they need to make sure it’s secure. They should ask themselves those questions.
MR: I guess people could click those links or look at weird memes in the office, so are you thinking about it more like a college kid going away? It’s like I could do this at home, but now that the parents are away, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Or, do you think there's a host of challenges inherent to working in a remote setting versus in the office?
IR: I think different people approach it in different ways. Some people are very good at working in particular blocks of time. Then, we need a break. Some people decide to go for a walk and some might decide to read the news online or whatever. It's just a matter of making sure that whatever it is that you do, do it from a secure standpoint. Make sure it's the same level of due diligence that you would apply in the office. There’s the physical security aspect of it as well. So, for example, people like us, we have access to sensitive information. You have to make sure that if you're in a house or you're sharing a house with someone else, that when you leave your desk or your chair, you ultimately make sure that you're sheltering that confidential information. Nobody else in your house should have access to that information. It just depends on your setup. Really though, it’s the usual things that you would do in your office, but keeping it at that same level.
MT: In the office, we are required to lock our computer when we leave our desk. Where I’m working now, there's no one around me. But, I'm still doing that because it's ingrained in me now. I'm nervous to break that habit because it's such a good one. Because I’ve been working by myself for so long, I can quickly run to get a cup of water and I don't have to look my screen. But, I'm still trying to keep up my best practices so when the world eventually does go back to normal, I'm not all crazy.
IR: A lot of the time, you hear about people having confidential conversations on the train and everybody's outraged. You have to be careful and avoid naming people that you talk about or matters that you talk about. It’s the same if you're at home, especially if you're sharing a house with other people. Some walls can be quite thin. It's just a matter of making sure that you're keeping that information to yourself or using anonymized terms to refer to something specific if you have to. In our team, we use operation names to refer to basically all the products that we have for e-discovery, forensics, incident response—anything like that. We use operation names and it becomes quite interesting when you start trying to find a new line of names. We went through capital cities, Shakespeare characters. We did fruit and veggies for a while. That didn't last very long.. So it's just making sure that you're not using client names all the time. You’re not talking about things that are very much in the news or highly confidential and sensitive.
MR: Love the Shakespeare take on that.
IR: People were quite surprised, like why are these names so complicated?
MR: They don't quite roll off the tongue. You submitted a quote [for an article on The Relativity Blog] that talks about how communities are handling this crisis and what they think is going to come out. So for listeners, I want to share that because Mila and I are going to unpack this a little bit deeper. But you said: “This crisis is ultimately putting everyone in a situation where they need to innovate, react, and adapt in a very short amount of time. This is the ultimate resilience challenge. Flexibility and adaptation are key. We need to embrace the challenge and try to see it as an opportunity.” So I suppose the first part that I really want to dig into is that you referred the crisis as the ultimate resilience challenge. Can you expand on what you mean by that?
IR: We briefly touched on this when we when we first met, Mary. For the resilience piece, having that flexibility and that ability to adapt to instances that are outside of your control or within your control depends on how quickly you do it. To give you an example, we had a very big project that we were meant to deliver onsite abroad around the same time that COVID-19 hit. We basically had to adjust and see how we could deliver that in a different method. It was something that we could do remotely, but there were security aspects that we had to make sure that we had under control around remote access, using FOBs, or other ways to authenticate access. We managed to do that. It was quite stressful. I mean, I'm not going to lie. It was. There was a lot to manage there [in terms of] client expectations and our own staff's expectations, as well. It was actually happening around the time where some countries were starting to lock down. Some were not locked down yet. It was very much a matter of hours or a day where we were waiting for government restrictions to kick in. And, stress levels were quite high for everyone. I think the key there was to make sure that we were trying to adapt in a way that would keep everybody safe and deliver the work in a way that had the same level of quality and within the time frame that our client set, as well. It was actually a great test of flexibility and resilience.
MT: Once you come out on the other side, you have more confidence in yourself and your capabilities. When you have something that seems like this huge, daunting task, [you can think through] how are we going to pivot last minute? What are we going to do? And, you come out on the other side. I would say that how quickly you pulled that together, that must be a great boost for your teams at a time like this. That’s been cool to see and with us, we just had Relativity Fest London. The event was meant to be in London. That was a last-minute pivot to go virtual. The team and attendees were already pleasantly surprised with how it went. And that has instilled this sense of, you know what, if we all come together, then we are all in this together. There's this problem that's facing everyone—how can we move forward? And, I think it’s exactly what you said. It's been a daunting challenge, but it’s cool to see.
IR: It definitely was the ultimate resilience challenge for you guys. That's for sure. But I think it's opened a lot of opportunities for you, as well. I was logged in for three days. I was looking at the number of attendees that were on there. I recognized the names of some people who are based in the US. They probably wouldn't have been able to travel if it would have been onsite. That's opened up opportunities as well for other people to log in and get to chat with others. That’s what we have to focus on too. We had a similar experience like that last year when we were doing [a remote situation as] part of our business continuity plan. We do scenarios every year. The scenario that we chose to do last year was losing access to our office. We weren't specific about the [reason] but we said if there were anything like an environmental issue or pollution or a gas leak, we would have to be remote. We were talking about this and I was saying to two of my colleagues, “Like, that was great. We had quite a few lessons learned.” In terms of connectivity to the office and the VPN connection, if some people had desktops, we replaced that with laptops. We couldn't have chosen a more adequate scenario area for this. But, that’s the thing. When you plan and you go through these simulations, you get a lot of lessons learned. It's only going to get easier the next time.
MT: You should get the person who came up with that idea to choose your lottery tickets. Moving forward, you touched on some opportunities that have arisen. What types of innovation are you already seeing come out of the crisis and where do you think we'll continue to see major traction?
IR: One of the services that we provide is essentially security testing. We were able to deliver remote testing, which in certain scenarios, it's not as easy to do. It wasn't a practice that we were doing all the time. In a short space of time, there were certain changes in the way that those services were delivered so we could test from a remote location. That was quite an interesting one that we were able to do there. It took a bit of adjusting. It was certainly something that we could still keep doing. It was not just the adjustment of how the work was delivered, but it was also the perception that you would get from clients. They could be like, “Oh, no, but surely you have to come into the office to do this?” And we were like, “Actually, no. We’ve adjusted this and now we're able to do it remotely.” And they're like, “Huh? Mmhmm. Okay, let's try that.” So it was new to them as well. This meant that they also had to be a bit flexible about it. But, as you said before, I thought that was really interesting because it was that feeling of we're all in this together. Hopefully, that’s a bit of a lesson learned going forward for everyone. Try to be flexible with your partners, your clients, and your providers. Because we come from an e-discovery background, cooperation usually is in the forefront of everybody's mind in the case of litigation, for example. But, it is nice to see that because we've all been affected by this, we've had to get our heads together and say, “Okay, how are we going to solve this?”
MR: Well, thanks a lot for catching up with us. It was so great to talk to you.
IR: No worries. Guys, thanks again. Stay safe.
MR: Stay safe. And for Stellar Women, I'm Mary Rectoris.
MT: And I’m Mila Taylor.
Both: Signing off.
MT: We didn’t get that one.
MR: We didn't get it at all.