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Is remote working exposing your business to more frequent security risks?

Paul Weeden

Written by Paul Weeden

Founder & Managing Director at Foration. IT and technology fixer.

[fa icon="clock-o"] 17 August 2016 [fa icon="user"] Paul Weeden [fa icon="folder-open'] advice, remote working, IT security, data security

Online security is one of the biggest dangers faced by a business these days with the collective cost to UK businesses reported to be in excess of £34billion annually. And the rise in remote working brings with it an increased threat of data breaches and security risks.

With the trend towards remote working in the workplace continuing apace – with potentially half or more of the UK workforce could be remote working by 2020 – businesses need to face up to the fact that, while there may be significant cost and productivity benefits, the move also comes with additional risks to the company’s safety. And something which needs to be taken seriously when managing cyber-security policies.

We take a look at areas where remote working can expose your business to added security risks.

Device Loss

Remote working invariably means using a mobile device, tablet or laptop to carry out work outside of the office environment. Devices that are likely to have potentially sensitive data stored within them.

There is an obvious risk attached to this scenario. Namely, what happens if a device is lost or stolen?

A report, published in computerweekly, from 2014, showed that up to a third of remote workers had experienced loss or theft of a device that was not securely protected or encrypted. As you might imagine, this puts a serious amount of data at risk of being lost, stolen or otherwise compromised.

Ensuring that worker’s mobile and remote working devices are encrypted and are fully up-to-date from a patching perspective can go a long way to combating this risk.

Careless Workers

Clearly this would not apply to all workers, but a company with a remote working policy, needs to be aware of the potential risk attached to those whose usage of mobile devices can be somewhat lax.

This could come from the blurred lines between personal and business use when away from the office. Letting others use a mobile device – for convenience when out and about, for example – can undermine password security. As this report shows, password sharing, or their generally lax use is on the rise, with upwards of 25% sharing work-related passwords.

Part of the company-wide cyber-security policy should include acceptable use policies and training to highlight the risks and dangers of lax mobile use.

Public WiFi Risks

Remote work allows employees the convenience of working from anywhere. While this can mean home working, it will also apply to those on the road being able to work from their hotel, airport, on the train or at the local coffee shop.

In other words, accessing work via a public WiFi connection.

Public WiFi is a lowly-secured platform. Ripe for prying eyes and hacking. What you share on public Wi-Fi has the potential to be seen by anyone else who happens to be on the network with you.

Which can expose the company network you happen to have logged into while working, creating a potential weak spot in your network security.

Avoidance of data sharing on public networks, or use of encrypted email and communication systems can minimise the risk of security breaches.

Conclusion

Remote working has become the norm for a great many businesses, for sound practical and economic reasons. And this will continue to be the case in the future.

However, while we are more and more attuned to the notion of cyber-threats when sitting at the office desk, it should be of paramount importance to recognise that, alongside the manifold benefits of remote working, there comes a host of potential security risks.

And to implement policies and measures to adequately combat them.

Email Security Diagnostic from Foration

Paul Weeden

Written by Paul Weeden

Founder & Managing Director at Foration. IT and technology fixer.

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