Working whenever, wherever: staying secure in a remote working world

By Lucy Wright

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic there was an increasing trend for remote working, and many businesses had taken steps to enable flexible, working from home arrangements for staff. With a growing number of millennials entering the workforce, remote working was fast becoming the expectation, not the exception to the rule.

The global pandemic of 2020 has accelerated this even further. In the first few months of the year, a huge proportion of the workforce both in the UK and globally has been working from home and are continuing to do so.

For businesses with a remote working culture, the transition has not been too difficult. But for those organisations who haven’t had the tools in place to enable remote working, the remote working scenario has been a huge change and presented new challenges.  

One of the biggest challenges of working from home for employers and employees is making sure they are working securely when using their own WiFi networks and devices. Employees have to use home networks to get online; if they don’t, they can’t do their jobs effectively. But doing so can leave them open to security threats and vulnerabilities which might not be an issue if they were working out of the office.

So, how can remote workers stay secure while working from home? Here are some simple ways to keep remote workers as secure as possible.

Make sure the home network is secure

If the home network remote workers using to work isn’t secure, it can leave your organisation vulnerable to hacks and data breaches. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to make a home network more secure.

Firstly, check that the firmware on the router is up to date. You can check this on the router’s settings. Be aware though, that not all routers have this option. Do a review of the devices that are connected to the home WiF network, including ones that have connected in the past. Disconnect any that you don’t recognise and any old devices. It’s also a good idea to enable a guest network for current visitors to your home to connect to if they visit, so that your work network can be separate. We expand on these tips and give more ways to secure your home router here.

If you’d like to find out how secure your home network is, and what can be done to make it safer, try our home network security checker. This quick survey will find out how secure your network is, any potential risks to security and if you need someone from Core to help you make it more secure, we can do that.

Use Microsoft Conditional Access

Conditional Access sits within Microsoft's Azure Active Directory and is an effective way of allowing or denying access to applications, platforms and services depending on certain signals which are sent and received. This process is described as "if-then"; for example, if a user wants access to a confidential document, then they must complete Multi-Factor Authentication. These "if-then" actions can be defined by your organisation and be very granular to ensure security. Criteria can be set around device, IP location, real-time risk calculator and other factors.

For more information on how Conditional Access can enable remote workers to be productive yet secure, click here. You can see all of Core's security offering here.

Govern the use of collaboration and communication tools

Teams and Zoom meetings have become the new normal this year, as physical meetings are no longer an option. Teams is also the perfect platform to collaborate on, remotely. Now more than ever, companies are relying on collaboration and communication tools like these to keep in touch and work together.

These applications have lots of benefits, but using them also come with risks. Organisations should carefully govern their use, and guidance around acceptable use needs to be communicated to employed. IT teams should outline to staff the kind of information that can be shared over these platforms, and guidelines for acceptable use.

Don’t forward work emails to your personal email

It can be tempting to forward work emails to your personal email address, but it’s actually quite risky. Personal email accounts, like Gmail and Hotmail, are more susceptible to hackers than many work accounts. Emails are not automatically encrypted; if a hacker was to access your email, all information in the email plus any attachments would be accessible. Not sending emails from your work to personal account is an easy win in terms of maintaining security.

Keep your devices protected

It sounds simple, but employees should always lock their devices when working from home. Never leave devices in sight either inside the house or car to stop opportunistic thieves. If you’re working from a location outside of the home, then it’s a good idea to have a privacy screen on your device to shield it from prying eyes. Laptops should always be password protected, and mobile phones should have a passcode in place at the very least; face or fingerprint recognition is even more secure.

Next steps

Core's Little Book of Managed Services is an introduction to our managed services offering and the security solutions we have that can help your teams works securely from anywhere, anytime. 

Download our pocket guide now and get to know managed services better and understand how they can keep your remote workforce secure and give you a better night's sleep.

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