Many employers offer a work from home perk for their employees. With new technological advantages, employers are able to keep costs down by allowing their employees to work remotely. From large companies to small businesses, technology has blurred the boundaries of the traditional work space and has made remote working a reality for many employees.
Working from home is considered a normal benefit for most companies because businesses are recognizing the productivity, cost savings and morale benefits to giving their employees more location flexibility. However, the same dangers that exist in the office for computer networks and vulnerable data breaches also carry over into an employee’s personal office. Employers must understand the options for network security in order to protect customer information and other sensitive data from misuse.
Remote working is now considered the norm in many industries, yet for some employees are unaware of the threats they face. Danger areas include hotels, conferences, airports and shared computers. The targets for attack include smartphones, tablets, laptops and storage devices such as USB drives. Airports are a favorite target for criminals. The threat of a stolen laptop to a company and the personal information it keeps is a serious cause as employees work more and more out of the office.
Here are some issues for any employer to consider when securing their company’s confidential data during the times when employees work remotely and what do to about them:
Using the Cloud
Small businesses should especially consider a cloud-based system because information is stored on an off-site server that has enhanced security. Rather, than really on all the information being displayed on a moving laptop, the bulk of information is in the cloud-based system. For employers, this means that their remote workers can access necessary information regardless of their locations with the comfort of knowing their sensitive data is safe. Also, using a cloud-based system will save employers on costs by eliminating the need to retain an in-house IT team or purchase expensive personal security systems. When connecting in open places, employees need to consider that Wi-Fi networks allow hackers to intercept any possible confidential data.
A simple solution for employees working from home is to create better passwords. Employers should encourage their workers to not use pet names, birthday dates and the like because those can negatively affect their security. Instead, passwords must contain at least 12 characters, including numbers and special characters. A password should also be changed every few months with employees using different passwords for various sites and applications. Employees should not use the same password for websites and corporate systems.
Employers need to set clear objectives for their remote employees so that those employees know what is expected. Employers should explain what they want remote workers to accomplish. Without clear objectives, employers will find it hard to deliver what their business requires. Employers must give employees targets and goals that stretch their abilities, but are not impossible. In order to do so, businesses should create a contract that holds employees responsible for what they do out of the office. A possible idea for employers is to require them to commit to attending a meeting in the office once a month or having meetings with management through video chat once a week.
One important step in network security is protecting email access which is open to various hacker phishing emails. Businesses must require that remote employees use a secure web mail program that encrypts messages before they are sent. Likewise, employers should update virus protection because viruses and malware still pose a serious risk for any small business owner, and having remote employees only enhances that threat. Be sure that the employee’s computer is updated. And, employees should always keep their devices with them at all times to prevent theft.
Finally, an employee can carelessly connect to an unsecure wireless network while working at a coffee shop or restaurant. Sometimes the urge to connect to the Internet surpasses security concerns. Employees should stay away from unconfirmed wireless hotspots, and by sticking to secure sites. If this is too difficult to control, employers should consider installing a security solution that checks the safety of wireless networks so that an employee does not have to think twice when relocating to a coffee shop.
For small businesses nowadays, it is not uncommon for many employees to work virtually. Therefore, employers need to adapt their resources and update themselves to ensure that security is still top priority. Technology is a great way to save money and increase productivity, but without the proper precautions in place, it can cost employers. Remote workers are great for businesses since they do not have to be present for meetings and there is less money spent on travel. However, saving costs should not result in lesser IT security. Follow the above tips to protect your confidential data.
Author: Shawn Rice | Source: business2community.com