Thought Leadership

Maintaining Network Security with a Remote Workforce

July 20, 2020

During this time when remote working is predominant, one of the biggest concerns for IT professionals and business owners is protecting their networks from phishing scams, hacker attacks and more. There's probably never been a time with as many vulnerabilities as we face when it comes to network security.

Below are some of the most effective ways to protect your company's data and your customer's information during this period of extensive remote working.

Establish Clear Work From Home Cyber Security Policies

Set expectations with your staff by writing clear, concise, realistic cyber security policies for teleworkers. Examples of rules and policies your company might implement include:

  • Avoid (or never use) public Wi-Fi. 
  • Use company-issued computers for work purposes only.
  • Never write down your passwords or store passwords in a location where others can find them.

These IT security basics may seem intuitive to you, but they may not be obvious to everyone who works at your company. Formalizing the rules in a document that is available to all employees can help them keep these practices in mind as they go about their daily work from some place other than your office.

Issue Work Computers for Employees to Use at Home

By now most people have figured out how to get their work done from home. But in some cases, employees are using a personal device to do their work because they have a desktop setup at the office. People who use their own computers to connect to your network through their local ISP may pose a serious security risk. That's because personal computers typically don't have the firewalls and other software that can keep hackers from skimming passwords and other important information without them knowing it.

Issuing each work from home employee an enterprise-grade laptop will help to secure your network from future attacks. Set up firewall and VPN connectivity on each computer and track carefully where each piece of equipment has been sent to ensure that you get it all back when an employee leaves your company or we (finally) get to work together in our offices.  (You might also be interested in reading our blog: How to Effectively Manage Your Company While Working Remotely.)

When purchasing work computers for employees, focus on products that heighten security. As a Dell Technologies Titanium Partner we're highly familiar with the features Dell offers to help you protect your data from attack through an employee's internet access point. The computers used by your remote workforce should have: 

  • SafeData. This product allows users to exchange documents and collaborate on projects while protecting sensitive data in a secure cloud environment.
  • Dell SafeGuard and Response portfolio. This software detects and blocks endpoint attacks.
  • SafeBIOS. This software allows your organization to safeguard against silent attacks using off-host BIOS verification.  

Learn more about the technologies we can help you implement in this datasheet on remote productivity.

Tighten Security Regarding Online Collaboration Tools

Collaboration apps that connect people online are frequently used by consumers and businesses, so your employees may use the same collaboration app to connect during meetings and then chat with friends late at night. This blurring of the lines between work platforms and personal platforms can cause confusion, leading to potential leaks of confidential information. 

Use an online collaboration app that's designed for security as well as easy communication. Usually the best platforms are ones that require an investment from the business. Free platforms may have more relaxed with security, leading to potential problems. At Summus Industries, we've been using Microsoft Teams for our work from home collaboration efforts, because it meets our rigorous security standards. 

You probably can't block employees from heading out to other messaging or collaboration tools, but document what you'd like them to use as part of your cyber security policies mentioned above.

Educate Employees About the Dangers that Exist

Although policies can be used as a coaching tool, your employees may be more likely to follow the rules if they understand the reason behind it. Provide trainings about network security, focusing on what types of things could happen if they don't follow best practices for working in remote locations.

When members of the staff make errors regarding IT security, use those errors as coaching moments (without calling them out to the entire team).

Topics to cover in employee trainings include:

  • How to create a strong password and why it's important.
  • What is phishing and how to avoid phishing scams.
  • How to recognize online scams.
  • How to use company technology properly. 

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Multifactor authentication, also known as two-factor authentication, requires your employees to provide two pieces of information before they can log into your company's network. Sometimes two-factor authentication requires your employee to enter a password and answer a secret question, other times it requires your employee to enter a password and then punch in a code on a secondary device, like a cell phone. 

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is becoming more common because passwords just don't provide enough protection. 2FA adds another level of security that protects your network and enables your employees to use their laptops and computers in a variety of environments. 


Invest In Solid Antivirus Software

Not all antivirus software is created equal, so do your research before purchasing an antivirus software for your work-issued computers. Do your research and talk to your vendors to be sure you've got an apples to apples comparison of products. 

While it's important to buy within your budget, remember that the least expensive software is not typically going to give you the most benefit. What you can save your company by investing in a good antivirus software is worth the investment. 

Make IT Security a Priority

Stolen data can cost your business money and would have a highly negative effect on your reputation for years to come. And in this remote working environment, there are even more steps you'll need to take to protect your data. We hope you find these pointers helpful and we are available to assist you with finding the right technologies for you. 

The team at Summus Industries can provide recommendations for the right security technologies to meet your needs. 

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