Staying secure while remotely working: A guide for IT Administrators

Staying secure while remotely working: A guide for IT Administrators

Over the past few months, work from home has proved advantageous for many businesses and individuals, allowing them extra flexibility and the ability to stay safe in these unpredictable times. However, IT professionals also know the kinds of security challenges that working from home can present, from unsecured Wi-Fi networks to personal devices. Organizations that haven’t taken the time to handle their lingering security issues created by the quick transition out of the office should act now. Work from home isn’t going anywhere, and neither are hackers. Some basic places to start include: 

Shore up network security

A team of 20 working from home could mean 20 different Wi-Fi networks, and lots of potential security weak points. Many employees may not have personal Wi-Fi networks up to the security standards needed to safely access  data and documents hosted internally. To avoid any challenges, experts recommend either ensuring that employees hold their personal networks to certain security standards, or using a VPN to connect to an internal network, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. 

Of the two, using a VPN is by far the more secure. With a VPN, remote workers will have the same kind of network security offered by their in-office workstations. For this strategy to work, IT administrators must be sure to patch regularly and use multifactor authentication to add an extra layer of protection. 

In some cases employees who do not work with sensitive data or documents may just need to use a secure work email address or a cloud-based service. Even then, their personal Wi-Fi networks should have certain security components in place, such as a strong network password.  

Focus on personal devices 

In addition to the risks posed by Wi-Fi networks, personal laptops, tablets and phones carry major security risks of their own, even if connected to an internal network. Unfortunately, the quick transition to fully remote work at the beginning of the pandemic means that many workers don’t have a choice about which devices they use. IT professionals know the challenges that this presents. Personal devices should be updated and patched thoroughly before being allowed for work use. A program like Faronics Deploy can help. Deploy enables  real-time updates to devices, and can be controlled remotely. This means that even if an employee doesn’t have the knowhow to do their own patching, the program will do it automatically. Employees can also call on their IT team to conduct an audit of their at-home work situation for potential defects or vulnerabilities. 

Another risk of the personal device usage is the higher likelihood that equipment gets misplaced, stolen, thrown away or sold to a third party, compared to an in-office workstation. To mitigate the damage caused by such a loss, organizations should be sure to encrypt all of their documents and data, so that even if a personal device falls into the wrong hands, access still restricted.    

Educate your staff

A team is truly only as safe as its weakest link. With more limited oversight than ever, employees run the risk of falling prey to phishing scams and other similar threats. It’s important for organizations to maintain the same kind of IT and cybersecurity education for employees that could be done easily with in-person work. Employees should be wary of any suspicious emails, or anything else with an unknown link or attachment.  

According to Perimeter 81 director of solution architecture, Sivan Tehila, organizations should educate their employees not only on how to prevent a cyberattack, but also what to do if one occurs. 

“Companies should carry out virtual training for team members to educate them on what to do in the event of a cyber-attack and what potential risks they should watch out for, such as suspicious emails, malware, etc.,” said Tehila, speaking with Forbes.

Some of the signs of a potential security breach include new programs appearing without authorization, computer slowdowns, strange pop-ups and a loss of control of the mouse or keyboard. If any of these things occur, employees should be told to contact their IT team for next steps. 

While it is unfortunate, businesses also need to be on alert for data theft from within during this especially vulnerable time. More data breaches come from employees, rather than outsiders, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Working remotely could give employees who are considering stealing information the extra leeway they need to make bad decisions. 

Remote Deep Freeze and Deploy

Ultimately, one of the best decisions a business can make to keep its information secure during this time of constant upheaval is to utilize reboot-to-restore solutions of all of its devices. Reboot-to-restore works by locking devices at an ideal setup and allowing end users to return to this “golden state”with a simple restart. Has malware reached one of your remote devices? Just reboot the system and the security threat will be gone. With cloud computing, reboot-to-restore solutions like Faronics Deep Freeze can be implemented fully remotely, allowing businesses a magnitude of security and control previously untenable. The COVID-19 pandemic and switch to remote work has given IT professionals around the world more work than ever. Reboot-to-restore and can help to take just a little off of their plates.  

At Faronics, we’re constantly looking to the future to help businesses remain agile, adaptable and in control. Our Deep Freeze and Deploy applications offer lightning-fast deployment of new workstations, enhanced application management and automated patching solutions for both Windows and Mac machines. 

To learn more, explore our product pages or start a free trial today.

About The Author

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, expert on Reboot Restore Technology when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.

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