As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt all facets of daily life, we are beginning to see the modern workplace transform in ways that will likely outlive the pandemic. Many businesses across nearly all industries have been implementing work from home platforms, technologies, and processes to enable more tasks to be done in a remote environment.
While this shift has been occurring slowly for years, COVID-19 has forced many companies to embrace it on a larger scale than many were prepared to face. And now, with the systems and tools in place, many companies are considering keeping a remote work environment for the longer term, either partially or completely. A major driver for this is the anticipated second wave of COVID-19 that many health experts predict will come this fall. The bottom line is that remote working is here to stay, and companies can do a lot to ensure that even though their operations look very different from the past, they can still remain safe and secure.
Mitigating security risks is the biggest challenge in shifting to a remote working environment. Employers and employees must be prepared to implement and adhere to strict security policies, and several good security measures should be taken into consideration, including the following elements.
Maintaining a Secure PC
For employees to successfully work from home, they need a secured and well-maintained computer, preferably one issued by the employer. Using personal equipment often means that software and security applications are outdated and pose a serious risk for data breaches.
Those PCs that are used for work should only be used for business purposes. They should also be maintained regularly, with attention being paid to ensure that they are:
- Running current software and updating it when needed.
- Kept patched and updated.
- Running anti-virus with completely up-to-date definitions.
- Running a software firewall.
Further, users must be alert to current phishing scams. There has been a tremendous increase in hacking and phishing attempts during the pandemic, and these attacks can be a major security risk. Regular training on the evolving strategies of phishers and hackers can help employees to identify anything that may look suspicious and flag it for further inspection by managed IT service professionals prior to opening any attachments or clicking any embedded links.
Maintaining a Secure Connection
The other key element to working safely and securely in a remote environment is maintaining a secure connection and restricting access to only those who are authorized. The most effective way to do this is by placing company infrastructure behind a virtual private network (VPN), using a remote desktop protocol (RDP), and implementing multi-factor authentication.
These technologies have additional layers of protection. For instance, VPNs can be configured to enforce checks on IP addresses, which would only allow access from pre-determined computers, which means that even if a password and username breach were to occur, external and unauthorized users would be prohibited from accessing the platforms.
Multi-factor authentication is another highly stringent standard that can greatly increase the security of your network and communications, particularly if you use cloud-hosted email like Microsoft’s Office 365 or Google’s Gmail. Multi-factor authentication requires the user to present two or more factors to confirm the user’s identity and grant access. Commonly, it consists of using a username and password for the first factor, and either biometric data (such as a fingerprint or a facial scan) or a code sent to the user through another confirmed communication path, such as a text message or call to the phone number on file or through email.
We are entering a brave new world for business, and one that is dominated by mobility and the ability to work from anywhere; this fact will likely continue to be true long after the COVID-19 pandemic clears. Once the shift has been made to embrace a remote working environment, many companies may find it hard to go back to the way business was in a bricks-and-mortar setting. They may be looking for new ways to cut costs and increase efficiency, and remote working may be the answer many of them are seeking.
Despite the many benefits remote working can offer, setting up secure equipment and protocols can remain a challenge for many companies. If you find that you need help setting your employees up to work remotely from home securely, call or email us for more information on managed IT services.
Sagacent Technologies offers premium IT services, delivered in an unlimited, all-you-can-eat manner, at a fixed monthly fee, all specifically designed & performed to significantly reduce the IT business risks of Data Loss, Security Breaches, Business Interruptions, and Compliance failures.
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