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A safe and accessible approach to remote working

The number of remote workers in the UK was last recorded to be at its highest with 4.2m people, 13.9% of the total working population.

With proven benefits such as increased productivity, reduced stress levels and lower overheads it’s easy to see why more companies are looking to make this shift.

However, there are a number of IT considerations you need to cover first if you’re to make remote working a success for your business. 

Key considerations:

  • What data will remote workers need to access and how sensitive is this?
  • How do you ensure the data on remote devices is regularly backed up?
  • How do you ensure remote access to your company data is secure?
  • How will you share files easily and securely?
  • What happens if a device containing sensitive data is lost?

What IT solutions are available?

Cloud-based backup solutions for devices used to connect to a central network remotely, are now readily available. This gives organisations the option to protect the local data stored on these devices.
In addition to the traditional access to a corporate network over a VPN, it’s now very common for organisations with large mobile workforces to use a cloud-based sharing platform, such as Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox. These products are becoming increasingly feature-rich and offer an alternative to storing data on your company file servers.

How do you ensure remote access is secure?

Research by Clearswift, a global cyber security organisation, has shown that less than 40% of UK employees recognise that the loss of corporate data could damage their company. It also found 12% of employees had lost or misplaced a company device containing sensitive corporate data.

For this reason it’s important for businesses to consider disk-based encryption for any device containing sensitive information that is used externally. This technology protects your company information by converting it into unreadable code that cannot be deciphered easily by any unauthorised person. Access is only permitted via an authorised user name and password.

However, as most remote devices rely on just a username and password to connect to the corporate network, this method alone won’t safeguard your company data from a security breach.

Even though organisations enforce strict policies to ensure a minimum number of different characters are used, and passwords are changed periodically, most individuals use their name and a memorable event for their log-in. This approach combined with their use of social media apps, as we’ve revealed in a previous blog, creates an attractive hunting ground for cyber criminals.

This is where an additional authentication mechanism can really help. Two-factor authentication is not a new concept but it’s something that you may not have previously considered. This type of authentication is usually an additional numeric code or password that must be entered alongside the user’s standard username and password. As this is not related to the user in anyway and changes frequently it’s much harder for a user’s account to be compromised.

As well as safeguarding your users’ access you also need to keep external devices up-to-date with the latest patches and secuirty updates to prevent them from becoming infected and potentially compromising your corporate network. Our experienced team can offer you advice on what IT practices would work best for your business and budget.

For further information on IT solutions for remote workers, please contact a member of the team on 01202 308000.

Author: James Cripps, 05 September 2016

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