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East Midlands Chamber News

How to stay safe while remote working: Highlander’s Chris Muscroft offers his top tips

With many professional organisations anticipating a future hybrid model of office and home-based working, it throws up numerous challenges around user and data security. Chris Muscroft, technical services director at IT and hardware provider Highlander UK, offers his top tips for how businesses can arm employees with the knowledge and tools they need to work safely from home.

 

Your users

Over the past 12 months, many of your users may well be working from home for the first time and, although this might not seem like a significant change, it presents several potential risks.

1) Employee education is paramount

To better facilitate effective remote working, you might have provided your team with new tools and devices to help them access important documents and collaborate with colleagues on major projects.

Tools such as Microsoft Teams can offer a range of benefits for a disparate workforce but using any technology correctly – and, more importantly, safely – relies upon appropriate training.

That’s why it’s important to ensure your teams are security-aware to avoid costly mistakes resulting from inadvertent user error. We’ve seen impressive use of simple “how to” videos or live tutorials to achieve this.

2) Put a stop to shadow IT

Shadow IT presents a risk at any time, but is enhanced when your users are working outside the perimeter of a traditional office environment.

As they work from home, your users may look to use their own device, unaware of the risks this presents.

For example, they might not see an issue with viewing confidential documents on their own personal tablet or phone, but the file version they’ve inadvertently downloaded presents a significant data protection issue with an unauthorised copy of that file now existing on an unknown device.

Outlining the boundaries for your team and reinforcing the importance of using the protected devices they have been provided with is key.

3) Policy has never been more important

Although meetings can only take place virtually, it’s important that interaction with users is frequent, such as utilising team forums to ensure they’re following correct procedures.

Make sure IT policies are revised and re-enforced with your team so they aren’t left in the lurch. You’ll have a much better chance of identifying and rectifying any issues if your team are well placed to raise this at the first opportunity.

Your technology

Providing your users with the right information is only one part of staying secure. Once you’ve armed your team with knowledge, you need to engage the right technology to keep them protected.

1) Protection beyond the perimeter

There’s a whole host of solutions and software that can be implemented to better protect your device estate when working remotely.

As a minimum, you need to make sure every device has appropriate endpoint protection to guard against malware, ransomware and other potential threats.

New updates often include security enhancements, so it’s also important to make sure that these updates are always applied.

2) Don’t take a chance with your data

With your users accessing data and applications from a home workspace via their own network connection, you need to keep your data protected.

Make sure your data is accessible from a protected location with the option to share to avoid excessive file duplication – and, where possible, implement policy-based controls to prevent any unwanted access.

It’s also prudent to encrypt your data to ensure this is protected should it fall into the wrong hands.

3) Safe surfing

It’s important to make sure your users are protected as they search the web, especially as they may also want to use your company device during any downtime.

By enforcing web protections such as ad blockers and limiting access to certain sites, including some social media accounts and e-commerce pages, you can guard against unnecessary risks linked with visiting potentially dangerous sites.

Join Chris Muscroft and Bryn Hawkins from Highlander at Cyber Week for a talk about Regaining control of your organisation's data on Monday 1 March from 3-4pm. Click here for more details.

This article appears in the February 2021 issue of the Chamber's Business Network magazine. To read the online edition, click here.

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