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The IT Security Risks of Remote Workforces, and What You Can Do About Them

The IT Security Risks of Remote Workforces, and What You Can Do About Them

As the work-from-home trend accelerated during Covid, companies have adapted, and found that distributed employees could be just as productive. However, as firms cobbled together their distributed-team infrastructure, some have done better than others in guarding against added exposure to hackers and hazards.

What can you do to mitigate the IT security risks of remote workforces? Here are some ideas and insights for protecting company networks, databases, finances and workers when business is conducted outside of a company’s walls.

Exposure on the Internet

Yes, that Pistachio Latte almost turns work into a leisure activity. However, public Wi-Fi networks can be very unsafe. Your home network, though, is data-encrypted, so it typically can’t be snooped.

If utilizing public Wi-Fi can’t be resisted, then a cellular modem or hotspot provides the encrypted protection you need. Some companies use GoToMyPC as a secure workaround, but using ‘a computer within a computer’ has its limitations, and things can get messy if something breaks down.

The best protection is provided by IT security and networking firms. They’ll typically set your company up on a cloud collaboration service like SharePoint and OneDrive, so workers are covered no matter where they are. Larger enterprises often have their own onsite server with an encrypted VPN, creating a secure ‘tunnel’ for all online communications.

If there ever is a breach, ongoing monitoring by security experts will catch it right away, so all connections can be shut down to shield databases.

If there ever is a breach, ongoing monitoring by security experts will catch it right away, so all connections can be shut down to shield databases.

Using Personal Devices for Work

The wisest advice for this practice can summed up in one word: Don’t! Workers’ own machines may not be kept updated, exposing them to the latest malware threats. Laptops get stolen. And when an employee leaves the company, they may be taking privileged information with them.

If there’s no internal IT team to load and prepare company laptops with proprietary software and other necessary bits, a business technology provider knows the right way to do it. They can make sure all hardware deployments are coordinated, consistent, and up-to-date.

IT pro’s can also remotely wipe a laptop clean if it’s lost, stolen, vulnerable to a breach, or if the worker leaves the company.

Two-Factor Authentication

You know when a company texts you a code number, which you need to type in to access your online account? That’s because in some cases, usernames and passwords just aren’t secure enough.

Back at company headquarters, security locks are in place, so two-factor authentication (2FA) isn’t as necessary. Those protections don’t cover distributed groups, though, so 2FA is a really smart idea.

Setting it up, however, can be tricky, and not recommended unless you know exactly what you’re doing. In the meantime, replacing your passwords with more complex ones is simply a best practice.

Temporary Workers and Contractors

If no one is keeping a close eye on outside personnel coming and going, security risks can pile up quickly. Too many people who have moved on still have access to things they shouldn’t.

An IT team you have on retainer can keep up on all activity, and can set up access for each temp or contractor with a limited timeline.

Software Updates & Security Patches

Not staying up-to-date with these opens up remote employees – and the firms they work for – to the ongoing march of emerging security threats. Even tech-savvy staffers need to work hard to monitor and install updates for every bit of software.

Or they can outsource the task by signing up for an IT maintenance plan. Those folks know whenever new updates become available. They also know how long to wait for the version’s bugs and incompatibilities to be worked out before they install the update. And by updating everyone at the same time, both remote and on-site, unexpected quirks are minimized.

Even if the update process goes sideways for some reason (welcome to technology), an IT expert can take care of it right away, so you’re not stuck with unresponsive software – and a project that’s due by end-of-day.

Not sure if your remote workforce is exposing your company to potential security threats? Talk it through with the experts.

Contact the helpful team at Harmony Group IT for a security assessment, ongoing IT maintenance and updating, or to assemble a solid infrastructure for your remote team.

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