Advances in technology and business culture have been trending towards flexible schedules and have contributed to the rise of the remote worker. Last year, 37% of US workers said they have telecommuted, which was up 7% from the previous year; and on average, these US workers telecommute 2 days per month. While remote work is more convenient for employees and typically can reduce business overheads, there are IT security considerations to keep in mind with telecommuting.
Protect your employees’ remote workstations
Think about it—your on-site servers and workstations are protected by software and physical security measures. In the same way, your business should be implementing a risk management plan to protect remote workstations, such as tablets and laptops. If a remote worker were to lose laptop with sensitive business information on it, your company should either be able to track the device or delete it remotely. In addition, remote workers should be provided with software protection on their computers, such as anti-virus and anti-malware programs.
Segment your networks
How much access to your systems do your remote workers need to do their job from afar? Companies often provide broad permissions to remote workers, which creates a network vulnerability point. If a remote worker’s credentials are compromised, the potential negative reach for hackers ranges far outside their immediate department. Companies have the option to segment the network by providing user access to data and systems directly related to their tasks or department. Strongly segmented networks help to manage and minimize network security risk.
Use cloud applications
By using web-based applications to handle business tasks, a small business can let its employees work from any location, while leaving data-security responsibility to cloud-service providers who are often better equipped to lock it down. Encourage employees to use strong passwords for their accounts and refrain from reusing passwords they use for other applications or sites. There are some privacy issues associated with working in the cloud, but this can still be an option for some businesses.
Create remote worker requirements
Create system requirements or guidelines for employees who are choosing to work remotely. For instance, they must have sufficient home internet access, or a business class line, in order to easily connect remotely to the network. Your employees will lose efficiency if they have problems getting access to the applications and data they need to do their job. Consider supplying remote workers with workstations meeting your requirements to cut down on the potential for inadequate systems being used. Ensure that your networks are easily accessed by your remote workers and that employees will not be on the phone with IT for an hour every morning trying to get in.
This unprecedented ability work from anywhere has enabled companies to keep the best employees, regardless of where they may live, and in many cases, can boost employee productivity and job performance. Take the extra steps to protect your employee’s remote workstations and secure your networks in order to keep your company safe and help increase your telecommuting employee’s efficiency.