In response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), some businesses and schools have been suspending onsite operation temporarily in an attempt to reduce the risk of spreading this disease by group contact.
Whether you want to take precautions for health reasons or your staff needing to be home due to school closings, there are many things that businesses need to consider when deciding if having their employees work remotely is possible, effective, and secure.
What to Think About
While there are various logistics to work out while shifting your workforce to remote locations, security needs to remain at the forefront.
- Traffic can be protected by a VPN or users can remote into a work machine virtually
- Does your business have enough VPN licenses available? Purchasing these licenses through a vendor takes time, so it is best to do this proactively.
- Does the device have enough “horsepower” to run applications while connected to a VPN?
- Does it make sense to spin up a temporary cloud server with remote access capabilities on a short-term basis?
- This can give you flexibility with number of users, security, and access that can be disabled once you no longer have the need to have your users work remotely
- The Microsoft Azure solution offers this capability and may be more cost effective than securing licensing for your entire company
- Will your users be using their own home devices or company issued hardware?
- Personal devices that aren’t being properly protected and monitored can introduce risk to the business – you don’t want to let just any machine open a door to your network
- Malware on privately owned computers can spread to other computers in the business so extreme caution is advised
- Company-issued computers with antivirus and monitoring are the safest – both desktops and laptops can work in this scenario, based on preference/job duties/budget
- Enable Multifactor Authentication (MFA) on your VPN or any type of remote access – this is an easier way to manage security for a larger group of employees instead of on a case-by-case basis
- How is your employee’s home internet connection?
- This can affect access to cloud applications, speed, and accessibility
- Is your phone system scalable?
- Can you use soft phones/Voice Over IP (VOIP)/internet-based phones?
- Can the business calls be forwarded to an employee’s cell phone?
- Is your phone service cloud-based or is it tied to a device in your location?
Tips for Working Remote Safely and Effectively
- Ensure whatever device you’re using has proper antivirus and security protocol
- Make sure that your home internet network is protected – this can be done through a firewall (physical) and VPN (cloud-based)
- You should still lock your computer and not leave work documents unsupervised
- Leave your computer on overnight so that it still receives updates and patches
- Restart your computer at least once or twice a week
- Designate a working area ahead of time and try to keep your work confined to that space to help with focus and productivity
We want to emphasize that these practices are not solely based on the reaction to this pandemic, but that this speaks broadly to best practices around remote working in general.
We understand that the uncertainty with COVID-19 can be stressful and frankly overwhelming, but we are here to help in any way that we can.
Please contact us if you need assistance in deciding if working remote is right for your company or how you can implement this for your employees.