IT Assist FAQ - Support for new ways of working during COVID-19

Latest guidance and advice from IT Assist.

How should I keep in touch with my manager / colleagues / teams if I am working remotely?

Keeping in touch with your colleagues and teams will be important throughout this time with staff located around the country.

IT Assist has provided access for all NICS users to use the following tools to keep in touch with colleagues and customers.

  • Cisco Jabber - audio, video and instant messaging
  • BTMeetMe - audio conferencing
  • WebEx – audio and video conferencing
  • TMS – audio and video conferencing

Please read this conference call guidance before using video conferencing technology.

Whilst ITAssist has also facilitated access for all users to a range of other collaboration tools including for example, Zoom, it should be noted that NICS Cyber Security colleagues recommend that all NICS staff use the supported tools i.e., Cisco Jabber, WebEx, BTMeetMe and TMS video conferencing where at all possible.

These are the only supported tools available for NICS use that are fully licensed and monitored/managed by IT Assist. 

It is recognised that many other collaboration tools are available to maintain team and customer relationships. In these exceptional circumstances, cyber security risks that might not be acceptable in normal times could be tolerated temporarily in specific circumstances.

It will be for business areas to evaluate and manage the circumstances and associated risks in using other collaboration tools such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, GoToMeeting etc. but it is recommended that these should be limited to exceptional circumstances.

For further information on how to request access and to use the tools available, please see link to our how to guidance.

Can I use video conferencing?

All NICS Users are free to use video conferencing as required as network improvement work is complete and NICS bandwidth capacity has been significantly increased and is resilient.  Please note that as there are substantial numbers of people throughout the country using broadband services to work remotely, the local signal may also impact on the performance of services from time to time.

Please see attached link to video conferencing best practice.

Can I use Zoom to keep in touch with colleagues?

It is recognised that many other collaboration tools are available to maintain team and customer relationships. In these exceptional circumstances, cyber security risks that might not be acceptable in normal times could be tolerated temporarily in specific circumstances.

It will be for business areas to evaluate and manage the circumstances and associated risks in using other collaboration tools such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, GoToMeeting etc. but it is recommended that these should be limited to exceptional circumstances.  

NICS Cyber Security colleagues recommend that all NICS staff use the supported tools i.e., Cisco Jabber, WebEx, BTMeetMe and TMS video conferencing where at all possible.

For further information on how to request access and to use these tools available, please see link to our how to guidance.

How do I access the NICS servers remotely i.e. from home?

A user would sign on to the Secure Remote Access using their computer username and password. The Secure Remote Access (SRA) service is designed to keep you connected at all times (this is sometimes called “Always on VPN”) therefore when you turn on your computer you should connect and stay connected all day. If there is an interruption it will try to reconnect again automatically.

For further information please see how to guides below:

How should I set up a workstation when I’m working from home?

  • set aside a space in your home for you to work in or simply use a dining room table. Do not be tempted to use your sofa or an easy chair in the living room
  • set up your workstation as best you can and refer to the diagram below for the main points to consider. Pay particular heed to your desk, chair, glare, sitting position
  • take breaks away from your home station and change work activity
  • stay in touch with your line manager and colleagues as talking to others is good for your mood and mental wellbeing

 

Am I still required to keep a record of any significant decision or transaction when working from home?

Yes, regardless of any alternative working arrangements, eg working from home, all staff are still required to keep a record of any significant decision or transaction. Please note that:

  • personal email accounts should never be used by staff to communicate official NICS business
  • HPRM continues to be the official repository for all NICS records
  • if for any reason records cannot be saved immediately to HPRM, eg due to limited connectivity, then they can be saved “Offline” through HPRM and checked in as soon as possible once connection to the network is established
  • any communication that might include any personal or case-specific data, or transactions/decisions that need to be recorded should be restricted to official lines of communication over the secured network, ie official e-mail account and any transactions/decisions recorded in the normal way and saved to HPRM

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