In our rapidly-changing technology environment, many of us have the option of working from home. If you’re a type-A personality, it can also mean that you work on weekends, while on vacation or even when you’re under the weather!
A recent survey reported that as many as 44.4 million workers dial-in from home at least once a year- and that number is expected to grow. While this trend is beneficial to employees and gives them a way to maintain a better work-life balance, it can also leave employers vulnerable to cyber threats such as malware, lost data or other security threats.
Whether you own the company or help support its mission, you should sit down with your IT team to make sure that that your home/work online connections are safe and secure. Four things to look for include:
1) Security – If you have data that would cause discomfort if you lost it, you need to take this seriously. Ask yourself, if I did not have this proposal, this document, these emails … you get the point. What would the impact be? Then make sure you have these items secured based upon the importance they have to your livelihood. You need anti-malware that is updated and monitored daily, multiple version protection of critical data and strong security passwords as a baseline. This is not install and forget, you need this stuff checked regularly.
2) Back-up/Cloud System – Review and upgrade your Back-up/Cloud system - does it meet your current needs for the volume of data that you’re backing-up? Also remember there’s a big difference between backing-up files and business continuity. Putting something on an external drive or thumb drive doesn’t mean that you could be back in business the next day if a crash occurs. Understand the difference between back-up and business continuity and have a plan for both.
3) Do not Link Home/Work Computers – Many people working from home have a direct link on their personal computer to their company’s data and applications. For those wondering, we often find that there is an icon that contains the login credentials and password on home desktops that when clicked, logs directly into the company resource. This is a back door. If the security of your home computer is compromised, your company’s will be too.
4) To Sync or Not to Sync? - Decide what things need to be synced, and which devices don’t- We have a habit of syncing everything together- our work computers, home computers, mobile devices, iPads etc. While it may seem like the “cool” thing to do, it also creates vulnerabilities that may not have existed before. Every new device that is synced creates another opportunity for your system to be compromised. Choose what’s absolutely necessary, and leave the rest alone. Also, if you allow employees to use their devices, sync company data to them but you have no policy to govern them you have a large threat. For example, if someone loses a company phone, we suggest you wipe it remotely then you are protected. If it is a personal phone with company data on it, can the company insist it is wiped? That would mean the employee’s music play list and personal contacts would also be wiped too. What happens next???
Working from home can be beneficial to both employees and employers. It has been known to reduce office costs and increase overall productivity, save employees money on fuel and even lower healthcare premiums because studies indicate that working from home increases happiness and improves overall health. Just be sure that working from home keeps your company’s IT systems healthy too.
Dan Adams, CEO of Woburn-based New England Network Solutions (NENS), is a serial entrepreneur who ran his first retail operation in high school. He founded NENS in 1993 and over the years, owned and managed several start-up companies. For more information, visit www.nens.com or call 781-933-9300.