Here in the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that half the workforce is expected to be working remotely by 2020. Research suggests that up to one in four people are already doing just that in London.

The benefits of this more flexible working arrangement are clear for employers and employees alike. These range from reduced accommodation costs and increased staff retention to higher productivity and morale.

The upside is also the downside

For most of us, working remotely in London means any place we can connect to WiFi. That could be your local coffee shop, juice bar, gastro-pub, train or bus.

And what with the proliferation of smart mobile devices, like phones, tablets and laptops, plus easy connectivity to cloud computing and collaboration tools such as Slack, the upside of remote working is that it’s never been faster or easier.

The downside of remote working, especially if you’re worried about how to protect your business from cyber attack, is the repeated connections to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks plus the risk of data leaks from lost, misplaced or stolen devices.

So, we’ve put together this blog post on the best practices for securing the IT of your remote workers in London, including:

The conundrum in all the convenience

A member of your team can be using a mobile device to remotely access, view, edit, share and download to their device all sorts of confidential documents. These can include financial information, presentations and marketing materials, for example. In addition, they can also access your organisation’s network, e-mail and intranet.

Now imagine that mobile device gets lost or stolen and your employee hasn’t protected it with a suitable passcode. Be afraid because somebody who shouldn’t have access to your company’s confidential information has. And you’ve no way of retrospectively securing it.

And this isn’t just scaremongering. Recent research by Trend Micro reported that device loss accounts for 41% of all data breaches, compared with 25% derived from hacking and malware.

In this scenario, the question ‘How can companies protect against hackers’ is obsolete. It’s too late. So, what can you do to be prepared before the worst happens. Read on.

Go where the latest cybersecurity technology doesn’t

When it comes to today’s highly mobile London-based workforces, securing those mobile devices and your organisation’s IT infrastructure, data, reputation and finances means more than just implementing the latest tech. It also means implementing good governance.

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It doesn’t matter whether you provide the devices your people use or they provide their own, you need to be able to secure both and the access they enjoy to your networks and cloud servers. A suitably expert and experienced managed IT services provider in London will be able to help you. Here’s what they’ll suggest you should do…

Manage and control devices and the access they provide

It’s not rocket science. The more devices you have out there in the field the more points of access there are, and more points of access means more vulnerability to a third party or rogue employee inappropriately acquiring data.

So reduce the dangers of misplaced or stolen data by giving your team only the tools and access they need. Not every employee needs the latest device or access to all your technical, data and cloud resources to do their job successfully.

Instead, establish what’s known as a ‘Role-based Access Control’ (RBAC) model. Put simply, this restricts an individual’s network access based on their role within your enterprise. Essentially, they are only allowed the login details that give them access to the information necessary to effectively perform their duties. Don’t forget to include any part-time, temporary or contracting staff in your review.

Note: you can adopt the same approach to the provision and use of mobile devices on company business, to help protect your company from cyber attacks.

Ensure passcodes and passwords are implemented everywhere

Good password and passcode management is at the heart of any data security regime, whether your team are working in-house or remotely.

So you’ll need to require all your people to use passcodes and passwords on employee-provided mobile devices, just as they would protect their own kit.

This is crucially important if your team utilises any online platforms that keep them automatically logged in to your network, because then all your information becomes vulnerable virtually 24/7.

To help you keep abreast of all the many workplace applications, software, and browser-based utilities, we recommend you use password managers with two-factor authentication (2FA). Your managed IT service providers should be able to guide you to the appropriate solution for your enterprise.

Stop a local data leak going company-wide

If one of your team loses a mobile device, the data damage could  hopefully be limited to that device. However, it could also give an unauthorized individual access to your network, data and cloud servers, too.

To limit this danger and your vulnerability, we recommend the use of Single Sign-On (SSO), such as Okta and OneLogin, and 2FA for company services, especially when your people have to access a variety of company information sources.

The benefits of SSO include your employees not having to remember multiple passwords, only one; and the ability to set up a secondary form of authentication — perhaps a text message sent to a separate mobile device with a unique code—whenever your people want to sign in. Again, a capable managed service provider in London could help you with these services.

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These measures ensure that, even if your employee has their company device stolen, the thief won’t be able to log into any important data sources.

Install remote wiping capabilities on your devices

If a device is lost or stolen (or even if one of your team goes rogue), by installing a remote wiping capability on all your company-provided devices, the software can enable you to wipe a device that is out of physical reach and also locate and lock it.

You’ve probably seen and used versions of this tool on iPhones (Find my Phone) and Samsung handsets (Find my Mobile); now all you need do is extend a similar solution across your remote devices.

Insist on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) best practice

Many people prefer to use their own devices even when working on company business. So implement a BYOD policy to protect your organisation from the risk of data breaches when they do.

BYOD use can make sense for employers and employees – you’ve less hardware to purchase and they know their kit and its operating system well, thus there’s no training required.

But if your team rely on their personal devices to connect to public, unsecured WiFi networks or their devices are used by their partner and families, they could be vulnerable to a variety of data security risks, both malicious and accidental.

When you’re considering how to protect your business from cyber attack and to address these potential dangers, ensure your people implement BOYD best practices on all their personal devices, which should include:

  • Encrypting all local data
  • Utilising a passcode
  • Enabling ‘Find my iPhone’ or similar features
  • Disallowing ‘Jailbreaking’
  • Being part of your ‘Approved Device’ list.

Such practices strike a sensible balance between security and trust for you and your team.

The potential costs of getting this wrong

To keep your team’s mobile devices, network, servers and data safe, you need to adopt a sensible, multifaceted approach to securing them against the threats, these range from hacking to human error and forgetfulness.

Remember, losing valuable intellectual property and compromising your confidential data can do more than simply cause severe business disruption and grave reputational damage. The financial costs can also be devastating. For example, noncompliance with the EU’s GDPR laws could cost your business as much as €20 million or 4% of your annual turnover, whichever is greater.

Now, if you’re seeking an IT support team in London you can trust to help safeguard your remote team and devices, look no further than the Capital’s go-to tech partner of choice, Totality Services. We’ve earned Five Star customer service ratings from such renowned names as TrustPilot, Feefo and Google, so call us for a confidential, no obligation chat about your requirements.

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COVID-19 Update: Face-to-face IT meetings have been temporarily replaced with Microsoft Teams sessions, and our engineers will be able to carry out IT assessments remotely.