Keeping Business Systems Safe Whilst Everyone is Working from Home
Having spent the last 10 years supporting IT for growing businesses it has been heartening to see how quickly many businesses throughout the UK have, in many cases overnight, embraced and adapted to the need for remote working.
As a growing business ourselves we know that this is what happens. You have no choice but to adapt and keep going, it’s about keeping the doors open (figuratively speaking), serving your customers and protecting your team and their jobs.
For many businesses this would have meant reacting quickly and making decisions, which rightly, and understandably, prioritised continuity over security, at least in the initial stages:
- Staff working from their own PCs, laptops, phones and tablets
- Using home Wi-Fi to access and manage company documents and files
- New devices being purchased and delivered without full input from your IT provider
- New software and apps (Teams, Zoom etc.) being downloaded and used daily
The fact that everyone has both been able to and willing to roll up their sleeves and get on with it is great; however, as it becomes more and more apparent that we will not be returning to “normal” any time soon, it is important to understand the security implications of remote working, external devices and generally opening up your business technology to threats out with your network.
Here are a few things to think about and action in the immediate term to make sure your systems, and your business, stay safe.
Make Sure You Understand Which Devices Are Accessing Your Network
If your staff do, or are likely to, use their own machines it can introduce a number of challenges around data security, virus prevention and system management.
You should speak to your team to clarify everything including:
- What devices they are using to manage work – are they business or personal device(s)?
- Do they have the tools to run a virus scan, have they done so and are they running this regularly?
- Who else has access to the machines and can you prevent anyone who shouldn’t have access (e.g. kids!) from seeing, accessing and distributing sensitive information?
Anti-virus and Malware Protection
Sounds obvious, but do you know if all of your business devices have anti-virus software and malware protection? If so, are they up-to-date and running? You should make sure your team know what software their business devices should have, how to update this and how to run it to check for, and eliminate, threats.
There are a few good providers out there, however we recommend ESET to our customers and can share guides and best practices for these tools. Contact us for more information or assistance with this.
If, as mentioned above, your team are using their own devices, do they have the appropriate level of security, anti-virus and malware protection on these devices? We would guess in many cases, probably not. If you can, it is sensible to provide your team with access to your business-level software to run on their personal machines to give you peace of mind that you are not exposed by a lower level of security.
It is important to remember that as soon as documents are downloaded to a local device (computer, laptop or tablet) they are no longer in your control. We would recommend ensuring that any sensitive or confidential documents are not downloaded and stored externally to avoid anything being seen or shared by people who should not have it.
Firstly, you should communicate this to your team regardless and highlight the importance of keeping your systems secure. Secondly, devise a strategy and use the appropriate tools to ensure you can restrict the ability for people to download documents without impacting their ability to work. E.g. ensure anything critical is managed using a remote desktop session or completed online within the parameters of your setup.
See our previous blog on remote working tools for more information on solutions such as Remote Desktop or Office365 for storage and collaboration.
Maintaining Awareness of Viruses & Phishing
As is always the case, many scams and hackers have already emerged to take advantage of the current situation. Communicate firmly and regularly with your team to remind them of the dangers of blindly clicking links in emails, forwarding emails or entering details anywhere which they do not normally, regardless of how believable and genuine these communications may seem.
The biggest danger with viruses is that they infiltrate more than one device, so again, have a plan and easy-to-follow guide for anyone to be able to remove themselves from your network immediately and limit any damage should they contract a virus.
As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, we know that it is challenging to keep things going day-to-day without adding to your list. Whilst technology has enabled many businesses to continue operating in the immediate term, it has also introduced a number of external touch-points and variations within organisations, many of which you may not even be aware of.
It is important to ensure you and your team understand what this can mean for your business and how to operate to minimise threats.
We recommend speaking to your IT partner (if you have one) for professional advice , alternatively contact us on 01292 427 420 or firstname.lastname@example.org if we can assist with anything from anti-virus to best practices.
We specialise in supporting IT for growing businesses. We know that all you need is for technology to make things easier for your business and we make this happen.
At a time when your customers expect great service, speed and reliability, you need the valuable people in your business to be engaged and capable of doing what you hired them to do, not losing time and momentum to avoidable tasks or processes. More importantly than anything else at the moment, you need them to be safe.
Please contact us on 01292 427 420 or email us at email@example.com for any assistance in making your business ready to deal with remote working requirements.
We manage your IT. You run your business.