Severe snow and icy wind have hit the UK with devastating effect this week. The adverse weather has made conditions treacherous, forcing schools to close as well as having a negative impact on transport infrastructure. A result of the extreme weather is an increase in people taking advantage of remote working.
Fortunately, at Network ROI, we spend a lot of time and effort planning for precisely this type of event. Acting as the IT department for growing businesses in Scotland, England and Wales, it’s important we are able to provide support in all conditions.
We host our critical services and applications in the cloud which provides our team with remote access 24/7. We have equipped our engineers with encrypted laptops for when they need to work remotely, and we use Gamma Horizon, a cloud-hosted telephony system, giving every member of our team the same direct dial number and extension – wherever we are working. Our team use Microsoft Office365, delivering further cloud-based collaboration and communication capabilities.
When working remotely, it is essential to remain secure, especially when dealing with private company information. Follow the tips below to stay secure when working remotely.
If it can be moved, encrypt it!
Before working remotely, ensure your devices and any external hard drives or USB sticks are encrypted. USB sticks, mobile phones, tablets and laptops are easy targets for criminals and are also easy to lose. Losing unencrypted data increases the risk of personal information falling into the wrong hands. Encrypt all your mobile devices and hardware.
Enable remote wipe
Protecting mobile devices within your business doesn’t need to be taxing. Investing in a mobile device management solution such as Microsoft Intune allows users to wipe devices remotely should the device be lost or stolen, checks devices are encrypted, enforces PIN protection and can allow you to locate lost or stolen devices quickly protecting your company and personal data.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates an additional layer of security when using private or public networks. It does so by creating an encrypted tunnel between the location you are working from and your company network. This ensures your data remains private as well as giving you access to your company applications and servers. VPN technology is no longer the chore it used to be, and seamless VPN technologies make this technology transparent to your users.
Limit the use of public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is fraught with danger. You may recall the vulnerability affecting the WPA2 security protocol known as Krack in late 2017. Be wary of connecting to public hotspots, especially those in coffee shops, train stations and airports and use only as a last resort – use your mobile data hotspot on your phone or use a VPN (as above) if using public Wi-Fi as this keeps your data safe.
Limit the use of public computers
In cases where you have no access to a company device or are fresh out of battery, you may need to resort to using a public computer. Although we strongly recommend not using public computers, here are some useful tips:
- limit the information you send on public computers;
- never send business-critical information, and;
- never store passwords in browsers.
If you log into web apps such as Outlook, make sure you log out once finished. Finally, clear browser history and cache before closing down the machine.
Keep passwords strong
We can’t emphasise the importance of strong passwords enough. Cracking a weak password is perhaps the easiest and most common method used by criminals to enter company networks illegally. If you need further assistance to create strong, memorable passwords, see below to download our free password guide.
Have a clear remote working policy
The current weather crisis should act as a catalyst to implement a remote working policy if you don’t already have one in place. When considering a remote working policy, base it on the needs of the business and identify what resources and processes you will need to implement to enable a secure remote working policy. Plan, document and most importantly, communicate the policy clearly to all members of staff.
Secure your network
Remote working provides criminals with further opportunities to enter the company network. A dispersed workforce accessing the company network from multiple locations can be a headache to manage and secure. Use only secure remote access methods with 2-factor authentications and consider insider threat detection software such as Zonefox to let you see who is on your system, where they are based and what information they are accessing or downloading. The software also sends alerts whenever unusual behaviour is detected.
Keep passwords and PINs secret
Never email or send password across insecure systems. If you do need to send a password, ideally use an encrypted messaging service such as WhatsApp or a text message. Make sure never to send username and password using the same service. If you are in a public place such as a busy coffee shop – or even your office – we suggest you don’t divulge personal information such as name, address, date of birth or password information over the phone – always do this privately.
Educate your team
Our tenth and final tip is to make sure your team are well versed in remote working and include training as part of your overall information security strategy. As we have said in previous posts, your people are your main strength, but they can also be a significant weakness if they don’t know how to work remotely in a secure manner.
Need help with business continuity planning?
Business continuity planning takes a lot of hard work, but as we can testify, it is entirely worth it. Our service delivery team hasn’t missed a beat throughout the so-called Beast from the East, and we are proud of our team for delivering superb service in challenging circumstances.
When designing a business continuity strategy, consider core products and services you deliver and think about the infrastructure and training your team will need to perform their duties if and when catastrophic situations arise.
Get in touch with us if you need help planning for business uncertainties.