In response to current events, many businesses are rushing to make provisions for allowing employees to work from home. We’ve put together this checklist to cover the basics. And we’d like to remind you that one of those basics is security.
Generally, you have two options. Either:
- Provide company-issued laptops. This is the best and most secure option. Your IT team can preconfigure the systems to connect to the corporate network, install security software and any other applications workers might need, and strengthen the system by turning off any nonessential services that expose security issues.
- Allow connections from personal desktops or laptops. This is definitely the riskier option. It’s less risky if the employees only need to access applications and data in the public cloud. The risks are much greater if they need to connect to data and line-of-business applications on your internal network, because their personal devices and home networks can provide an opening for criminals to get in, too.
- Broadband connection. Of course, your workers will need Internet access. A high-speed broadband connection will increase their productivity if they regularly work with large files, and it’s a must for collaboration if they use screen-sharing, voice-over-IP, videoconferencing or webcasting.
- Smartphone hotspot. As a backup in case the Internet connection goes down, or even as a substitute for a wired connection, smartphones have a hotspot feature that allows computers to connect via Wi-Fi, and use the mobile data connection for internet access. A mobile hotspot is also much more secure than public Wi-Fi or unsecure access points — which should never be used for business purposes.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN). This is essential for any kind of remote access to your corporate data, applications and computing resources. A VPN protects your data from prying eyes as it traverses the public Internet.
- Multi-factor authentication (MFA). This is also a must because it protects against employee passwords being stolen, guessed or otherwise compromised. Put MFA in place to secure VPN connections to your corporate network. It’s also strongly recommended for access to cloud-based email or any other corporate applications and data in the cloud.
- Endpoint protection. Your corporate laptops should have a security suite installed, which protects against malware being planted on the computer. If employees will be using their personal computers, require them to use security software. You might consider purchasing additional licenses to your corporate solution to cover the employees working from home.
- Remote monitoring and management (RMM). If you’re sending employees home with corporate computers, your IT department should install RMM software. It allows your IT department to better administer the systems remotely and check them to be sure the security precautions are all active and in place.
- Cyber monitoring. The measures above will go a long way to keeping your employees secure at home and your business protected, but there’s no doubt they’re accessing your business applications and data from networks that are less secure than your office network. A service that actively monitors your network and cloud-based resources for unusual or suspicious activity provides extra security — before an intruder can do real damage.
- If your company uses voice-over-IP (VoIP), your workers likely will be able to send and receive work calls from home by installing a softphone application and connecting a headset to the computer. (A microphone and speakers will also work, but a headset is much better.) If your office uses traditional phone service rather than VoIP, workers will likely have to rely on their cell phone or landline.
- If you use a cloud-hosted email solution (Microsoft 365 or G Suite, for example), your workers can access their email from anywhere using a web browser.
- Collaboration tools. Online chat and videoconferencing that allows web cameras and screen-sharing are how remote workers can collaborate on projects without having to be in the office. Microsoft Teams and Zoom are two popular choices. If employees work on shared documents that they need to access, update and revise, consider a shared, secure online document store as opposed to sharing documents as email attachments, which can lead to version control problems.
- Ready assistance for remote workers. If remote workers need help with their work-from-home setup, technical problems can be a drain on their productivity. Don’t forget to make provisions for having IT support available and accessible if they need it.
At SOCBOX, our SOC-as-a-service offering proactively monitors your environment 24x7 to detect security incidents and assist with remediation — before you suffer a damaging attack or data breach. We're also currently offering a free Remote Workforce Readiness consultation. If you’d like help setting your team up for working remotely, call 877-284-7789 or set up the Assessment here.