Enabling secure remote working

Since covid many businesses are now seeing the benefit and incentives of remote working. Especially in areas such as Newcastle, Maitland and the Hunter Valley; with longer commutes less access to public transport. Remote working gives employees flexibility and a better work life balance. Working from home can also increase job satisfaction and productivity. It allows for less distractions and interruptions and the ability to customise your workspace. This can create an atmosphere that enhances employee satisfaction. It may even help some individuals reduce their stress levels and improve their overall wellbeing.

While working from home has some great benefits, it is also important to ensure that your IT and security policies can accommodate such scenarios. With staff being away from the corporate network and possibly using their own devices, it is imperative to ensure good cyber security practices.

Company Laptops

If staff primarily work remotely, it may make sense to provide company laptops that you control. Providing laptops to staff ensures that you can retain control over your company data. You can apply security controls and lock down the device so that it remains secure. It is also important to use a good managed Antivirus / Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solution. This helps to block any threats and keep company data safe. These solutions will also protect staff from web-based threats and suspicious websites, even when they are not on the company network. Company owned devices are one of the best ways to ensure security and compliance.

BYOD Devices

While company laptops / Devices are the ideal managed solution, it may be more practical to allow staff to use BYOD Devices. BYOD devices can cause a number of security concerns. They are likely not patched and updated as regularly with OS patches and security updates.  They may also contain old and outdated software that could have known vulnerabilities.

BYOD devices may not have the same level of endpoint protection against malware and viruses. If an employee was to visit a malicious website or download a suspicious app, the company data on the device may be exposed and taken by the malicious actor. Staff may also inadvertently introduce security risks such as weak personal passwords and disabling security features that may make the computer more convenient to use.

Options for BYOD Devices

If staff have a PC in the office, you may allow them to access this PC remotely with a BYOD device. This way the data in still stored on the company device. While this does somewhat limit the amount of data on personal devices, there is still the possibility that the BYOD device could become compromised. If staff don’t have PCs in the office, you could also consider using cloud services such as Windows 365. This allows your staff to have a PC in the cloud. You can control and manage the PC and the staff have remote access to that PC.

Another option could be to use cloud-based services such as Microsoft 365. This would allow staff to log on using a web browser to access services such as their emails, SharePoint and files, and write and share documents.  In this way you retain control of the data, and it is not stored on their device. You can also further lock down how Microsoft 365 can be accessed and the requirements for logging into the service.


Considerations for both company and BYOD devices

  • VPNs – If you have a file server at your office, a VPN can be used to access the company data on remote devices. Ensure you use a modern secure VPN protocol and strong passwords. Many VPNs also offer MFA via certificates and authenticator codes.
  • Password Managers – With staff working remotely, it is crucial to ensure they have secure access to company passwords. You don’t want staff sending passwords in emails and teams chats.
  • EDR and Antivirus – If staff are going to use BYOD devices, you may consider providing them with a company managed AV or EDR solution. This will secure their devices, however may not be practical in some cases.


Phone Systems and communication

You should also consider how your staff will communicate and take customer calls. Modern IP phone systems have advanced a long way. Now they can be cloud based and allow staff to take calls from anywhere. Systems such as 3CX allow staff to use their mobile phone with an app. The app allows them to receive customer calls, make calls to customers with the business number, call internal staff and see when they are on calls. This kind of system can be very useful and allow communication and collaboration from anywhere. This is the kind of solution we can provide at FordhamIT.


Wrap Up

Remote working can be a complex topic. No business has the same requirements, nor do the staff. While it may seem like there are too many options to consider and not enough time, an experienced Managed IT provider such as FordhamIT can help. We work with your business to formulate and execute a remote working solution that works for you and your business.