What You Need to Know to Stop Your Employees From Compromising Your Business Network While Working Remotely
One of the most important things to understand about an era where nearly everyone is working remotely is that at the end of the day, literally any device connected to your office network is a potential vulnerability just waiting to be exploited.
You can safeguard your own infrastructure with top of the line, state-of-the-art cybersecurity measures… and it ultimately won’t mean a thing if your employees aren’t doing the same.
Now, to be clear, this isn’t an issue that was created by the current Coronavirus pandemic. It’s always been a struggle for businesses exploring remote work opportunities. However, it has certainly been exacerbated by the current situation where most of your workforce has probably gone fully mobile for the first time.
Thankfully, it’s also a situation that you have far more control over than you currently realize. You just need to keep a few important things in mind to put an end to the possibility that your employees are potentially compromising your business network while working remotely.
The Dangers of the Brave New Remote World
A big issue that a lot of people are running into right now is that the home computers of most employees barely have anything in the way of antivirus protection and if they do, those solutions are probably out-of-date.
For all you know, their personal computer could still be running Windows 7 – meaning that they literally have an operating system that is no longer being supported (read: patched and updated) by Microsoft.
If even one of your employees met these characteristics, you’d be looking at a big, big problem on your hands. When you now consider that nearly everyone is probably working remotely and the chances are high that more than one person is dealing with this type of situation, you’re potentially looking at a perfect storm in the worst possible way (not to mention at the worse possible time, too).
Why a VPN is NOT the Answer
Even if you’re using a VPN or virtual private network, you’re probably not as secure as you think you are. Yes, under normal circumstances a VPN will act as a “secure tunnel” between an employee’s computer and your office network. But in a situation like the one referenced above, that really isn’t what you want right now.
Think of a VPN as a special lane on the highway that only you and your employees can use. That sounds great… until you realize that if an employee’s machine remains unprotected, really all you’re doing is opening up a “fast-lane” for everything that has infected their home computers to do the same to your office ones, too.
You’re making it easier for your network to become compromised, not harder – and you’re again setting yourself up for a potential disaster that you should really be proactive about avoiding.
Preventing Your Employees From Inadvertently Compromising Your Business: What You Need to Know
Obviously, the most important thing to do is make it clear to your employees that they need to take cybersecurity at home just as seriously as they do in the office. They need to be proactive about keeping antivirus solutions up-to-date and they need to understand the consequences that come with connecting to your office network from remote locations.
But in general, you really need to be thinking about the types of solutions that truly offer secure, remote access by leveraging the safety of cloud environments to your advantage.
Virtual desktop infrastructures or VDIs are one way to do this, for example. They’re great for adding an additional layer of security at the exact point where someone’s home computer may be touching your network.
Of course, so much of your ability to stop your employees from compromising your business network involves making sure they have the right tools to communicate and collaborate with one another in the first place. VoIP phone systems will play a major role in that. You can likely get a fully supported, enterprise-class system for only a few hundred dollars more than what you’re paying right now – something that will allow your people to work remotely and be just as productive at home as they could be in the office.
Many other secure collaboration tools also exist, with Teams being one of the prominent examples. Microsoft is practically giving it away at this point so you really have no reason not to at least explore it as an option – particularly when you also consider the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing your remote employees will truly be the asset you need instead of the potential liability you fear them to be.
If you’re still interested in making sure that your employees aren’t compromising your business network while working remotely, don’t worry – we’re here to help.
It’s Your Move
At this point, I'd recommend getting in touch with either myself or one of my colleagues at QuestingHound Technology Partners so that we can discuss things further. That'll give us the chance to set up the type of infrastructure you need to not only make it through COVID-19 but to come out even stronger for it on the other side.
John Boden is a Managing Partner at QuestingHound, Inc., a Deerfield Beach IT support company that has been helping small businesses in South Florida stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business the past 18 years. He promotes a culture that is dedicated to the highest standard of ethics, hard work, and outstanding customer service. Connect with John on LinkedIn.