This is how you make remote access work [5 focus points]

Category: IT Security / Date: 17 October 2019

Remote accessSo your employees want to work from home. Great! Remote workers have the potential to deliver great work in less time, without occupying all of your company computers and eating all the granola bars from the office snack bar. Obviously, it’s a little more complicated than that. How will you know that remote workers are actually working? And what about security risks such as unsafe Wi-Fi in cafes and in public transit? In this blog, we’ll discuss five focus points to turn remote working into a success for all parties involved. Which is possible, as you’re about to find out.

 

“I don’t like the idea of my employees working from home”

Sorry to break it to you: the possibility to work from home has gone from hype to standard job requirement. But that’s not all. Apart from good employment practices, there are plenty of reasons why remote working is a good idea, such as:

  • You can hire the best talents regardless of where they live
  • You allow employees to improve their work-life balance
  • You support sales accountants when they’re on the road
  • You enable key members of the organisation to respond to internal and external changes, no matter where they are

However, none of the benefits listed above comes for free. If you ask us, there are five things you should take into account when you have employees access the company network remotely:

  1. Focus on output rather than working hours
  2. Perform a sanity check for your company network
  3. Secure access between remote devices and the company network
  4. Split private applications from work applications
  5. Keep an eye on device status

Let’s talk you through them one by one!

 

Focus on output rather than working hours

When employees work from home, there’s no way you can control the hours they make. Chances are high they follow different routines when at home. Instead of a coffee break, they’ll do laundry or watch an old episode of Friends. That’s ok! When you let people work from home, stop focussing on hours and focus on work completed instead. Did the marketing manager come up with a campaign blueprint and did he made the blog briefings like he said he would? Then it doesn’t matter if he did it in 3 of 5 hours. Has the output of that one sales professional drastically lowered since she started working from home? Talk to her and take measures. This approach works far better than focussing on hours, trust me.

 

Perform a sanity check for your company network

One way or another, remote workers gain access to your company network. So, if you let people work from home, you increase security risks. It’s as simple as that. But before you get all excited about water-tightening the private devices of your employees, focus on your company network first. Because how well secured are you? Do you all share the same password, or are you covered by a Network Access Solution who carefully monitors devices and people entering the network? You can’t secure communication between remote devices and your network if you don’t have your act together at the office.

 

Secure access between remote devices and the company network

Remote workers probably need to gain access to the company network for files and emails. This is risky, as often, they do so by using an internet connection that is out of your control. Or even worse, they use unsafe Wi-Fi in cafes or on the train. When connected to unsafe Wi-Fi, it’s very easy for people with bad intentions to intercept communication between remote workers and your company network, with all that this implies. Therefore, most companies use a VPN connection to make secure communication happen. VPN connections, however, are far from safe, as they form a direct connection between someone’s laptop and your computer network, bypassing all controls. This means that he can transport all kinds of troublemakers such as malware into your network. The solution lies in encrypting the data that is exchanged between the remote device and your company network. This way, it doesn’t matter how unsafe the Starbucks Wi-Fi is: outsiders can’t access the data anyway.

 

Split private applications from work applications

There’s a second issue we need to tackle. When remote workers use their own device (which they often do as it’s just more convenient), company applications such as e-mail get mixed with private applications like WhatsApp, images and private e-mail. This is risky too, as iPhones are known for their eagerness to back everything up in the Cloud. This means that company files and photos might end up there too. Now, device management is something of the past, especially given the many developments and OS updates. This is why we recommend containerising all company applications, separate them from private applications and only manage this part of the device. This can be done by installing a tool (such as MailZen) that create isolated and secured environments on any laptop, tablet or phone. An additional benefit is that MailZen also encrypts communication between the container and the company network, hitting two targets with one shot.

 

Keep an eye on device status

It sometimes occurs that devices fall into the wrong hands. An employee loses his phone in a café, or a laptop is stolen from a bag. In this case, you need to be able to block the entire container with one click of a button, as to avoid strangers breaking into your systems. Therefore, make sure you can track the company applications though a dashboard. This way, you can temporarily block them in case of theft, or delete them altogether when an employee is leaving the company. This doesn’t mean you should spy on your employees when they’re at home; simply track activity status of the business applications in the container. It’s what you’d do for business applications at the office, too!

Do you want to learn more about ways to secure remote access? Download the white paper below for free.

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