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How to uphold security whilst your workforce is remote

Diane Hall


Padlock in front of laptop computer showing data on the screen.

No doubt, when setting up a shared office for your team, you had security in mind. For instance, how to keep all your equipment, stock and computer systems secure. How to ensure no one from the outside hacked into your workplace server, etc.

The pandemic has forced the employees of many businesses to work from home. However, whilst necessary and more convenient in some ways, business owners may not have thought about the increased risk involved with keeping equipment and data secure whilst in the homes of their employees.

Here are a few things to apply, if you’re not doing so already, to reduce security risks whilst your workforce is remote.

Close up of Password on screen

Close up of Password on screen

Strengthen wi-fi passwords

Ask your employees to change their wi-fi passwords. Home routers are often shared by other members of the household, which is fine; however, if your password is weak, neighbours could also be siphoning off your data usage for their own means. A survey last year found that the most common password people used was ‘123456’, and ‘password’ was also in the top ten results. With no backup server security, being hacked at home if you use passwords as simple as this is shockingly easy.

Use a password generator to be doubly sure your password is secure for your wi-fi router, then only share this with those in your household who need access to it. If your router supports the function, consider a separate password for each user in the house.

Consider the equipment your employees use at home

If your workers use hefty desktop PCs when in the office and the solution, amid the lockdown panic, was to lend them a laptop for homeworking, double check that any temporary/mobile equipment your team currently uses is adequately protected with antivirus software.

Update your business insurance

Whilst you will have no doubt arranged this to cover items kept in the shared workplace, you need to now extend your insurance to cover equipment from theft/breakage, etc. when in your employees’ homes. Things like flood damage may not have been prevalent if your office is unlikely to be prone; however, you will need to look at many more eventualities with your insurer, as where your employees reside could be subject to all sorts of threats/risks.

Hold a team Zoom meeting and discuss how to prevent scams

It’s easy to ask colleagues’ opinions on whether an email or request is a scam when everyone is working from the same office, but when left to their own devices, it may be harder for your team to individually spot dangerous/phishing emails. Refresh their memories as to what may constitute a system threat and encourage them to always seek a second/third/fourth opinion with mobile screenshots of the offending message before they act on it.

Ensure everyone is using the most up to date versions of software

Earlier versions of common and not-so-common software may not be as resistant to hacking as newer, updated versions that will likely carry extra levels of security. Conduct some reconnaissance concerning who is using which software, and whether they’re using the latest version of each.

Nominate someone to be the first point of contact should issues arise

When breaches or hacks occur, it’s imperative that they’re dealt with swiftly before any damage becomes extensive. It may cost you a little extra to pay someone in your I.T. department to be on call, but it will be worth it if your security is compromised. Think of the cost savings your business enjoys when your team works from home and redirect some of this towards the security of your company.

Give the contact details of this nominee (or team of IT/security experts, should you introduce an on-call rota) to each employee so that they can immediately reach out to someone who can help minimise the damage should the worst happen.

Train your employees to think securely

Encourage your employees to hide/conceal laptops and other equipment when asleep or away from home. The number of people who leave devices in full view of anyone looking in from outside is staggering. Hold a training session and discuss how equipment and paperwork can be secured when not in use.

These are just a few simple things you can introduce/emphasise to your workforce that will reduce the risk of theft, damage, hacking and more whilst your team works remotely.

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