Prepping For A Returning Workforce

by | Apr 21, 2020 | Security

At some point, employees will be returning to the office for work.  How and when it happens, or even what it looks like, is anyone’s guess.  But it has been over a month at this point since many people have been forced to work remotely and there are a few concerns around the return process.  Below are some recommendations that may help with prepping for a returning workforce.. 

Hardware failure (desktops)

The first step in prepping for a returning workforce is planning for hardware failure. Historically, some computers don’t appreciate being turned off after running for a long time and may decide that despite how hard someone pushes the power button, they’ll stay turned off.  As many people left their computers off when they exiting the building, you may need to prepare for a certain amount of hardware failures and deal with that when returning.  You can get a head-start on this issue and have someone go around and turn on the computers ahead of time so you can assess the state of this situation.  This will also help on some of the other items that’ll be mentioned below. 

Another issue is that some organizations had their users take their desktops home.  Desktops generally aren’t constructed in the same manner as laptops for portability.  And with users not carrying them with some loving grace, they may not survive the physical return to the office. 

Domain trust issues

Computers, when part of the domain, want to change their passwords.  Most places have it at the default 30 days.  The member computer is the one performing the request of the password change, so even though a computer hasn’t seen a domain in 2 months or so, they should be fine when they come back into the office.  However, we’ve seen in the past where some computers will inevitably “fall off the domain.”  You’d typically see something in the event log of a domain controller such as: 

  • Log Name: System 
  • Source: NETLOGON 
  • Date: 4/20/2020 12:05:02 PM 
  • Event ID: 3210 
  • Task Category: None 
  • Level: Error 
  • Keywords: Classic 
  • User: N/A 
  • Computer: straydesk1.ad.contoso.com 
  • Description: This computer could not authenticate with \\DC1.ad.contoso.com, a Windows domain controller for domain CONTOSO, and therefore this computer might deny logon requests. This inability to authenticate might be caused by another computer on the same network using the same name or the password for this computer account is not recognized. If this message appears again, contact your system administrator. 

Or the user may see an error message when logging in such as: 

The security database on the server does not have a computer account for this workstation trust relationship.

A few options to resolve this: 

  1. netdom resetpwd 
  2. Test-ComputerSecureChannel -Repair 

Simply re-join the computer to the domain (easiest to use the NetBIOS domain name so you don’t have to remove from domain to rejoin as it sees the NetBIOS name is “different” and will try rejoining).  

Software updates (Windows)

If you have policies in place and you are pushing out updates, the computers will typically get the updates, apply them, and reboot on their own.  Which is great, if your computers are on. That means you may want to stroll into the office at some point and let your computers power-up to receive and apply updates so end-users won’t have issues when they first come back into the office. 

Software updates (Antivirus and other products)

Some products require a machine to be on and check-in periodically.  If the service doesn’t see the computer check-in for a period of time (45 days or so), it will assume the computer is no longer active and remove the computer object and license associated with that computer from its console.  What happens when the long-lost computer is powered on again depends on the vendor.  But to avoid the situation, make sure the computers are on and checking in regularly, receiving product updates and making sure they stay active in the console. 

Summary:

  • Power up your machines so they stay connected, receive updates, and are manageable. 
  • Review the various product consoles to ensure devices have checked in regularly. 
  • Identify what machines are problematic, and prioritize the list to remediate.

Hopefully this will get your mind thinking ahead so the transition back to normal working conditions is a bit smoother.  If you have any questions about prepping for a returning workforce, or need an extra set of hands to assist, send us an email at info@peters.com. We are happy to help.