I was unable to find on Google when someone first remote controlled a PC, but I’m guessing it was invented by some poor IT person who didn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to see what was going on with his or her server or PC. But thank goodness someone figured it out. With the Stay-At-Home order in New Jersey, many would be in dire straits without the ability to work remotely. We recently had a webinar that reviewed best practices for working remotely and we decided to recap some of the main concepts here. If you’re a visual or audio person, you can watch the webinar on our YouTube channel.
Most organizations were so focused on how to keep working that they did not take the time to formalize their Work-From-Home (WFH) policies or even educate their team about maintaining the organization’s privacy and security when remote. No matter how strong your security system is, a single mistake from an employee can cause a significant breach. Working remotely only increases these risks because when the user is no longer in the office, some or all of the security layers in place are gone. We encourage you to take a moment and evaluate your WFH risks and put measures in place to protect yourself. If you opt to let employees use their own PCs, you may wish to establish some basic usage requirements such as Windows 10 or higher, reputable anti-virus software, no shared machines, and the like.
Next, you’ll want to evaluate what technology your team needs to access—email, files, business specific software—as well as their communication needs. Based on what your team needs to be able to do remotely, you’ll want to decide if a person’s home computer is viable or if a company-issued laptop is in order. Don’t forget about things such as printing and scanning. In a pinch, a smartphone can act as a scanner; however, do you want company sensitive information floating around with employee photos? Depending upon your phone system, your team may be able to make calls from home using the company’s main phone number. However, each situation will vary.
Once you’ve identified what folks need to be able to do when working from home, you’ll next need to evaluate if a secure connection back to your office location is required or if they can work directly using cloud-based applications. In the former situation, most organizations will leverage a virtual private network or VPN technology built into their network security infrastructure. Often this is desirable because it makes it possible to directly remote control the users’ office PCs which is just like working at their desk.
A quick note about passwords… Some may not have access to their usual machines or resources, and therefore, may not know necessary passwords. It’ll be tempting to use poor passwords as a temporary measure or save the password in their machine’s web browser. IT Radix strongly recommends against this practice. Instead, it’s a great time to implement a Password Management system. Ask us how!
Other security practices to keep in mind… Enforce multi-factor authentication whenever possible. The bad guys are going to take advantage of the general chaos to sneak in unnoticed. Implement idle time logouts and disconnects to prevent someone from inadvertently accessing a user’s remote session. Be sure to encrypt sensitive email. Working from home is no time to push security aside.
Leverage technology to ensure communications, both internal and external, stay strong. Instant messaging, chat, group collaboration and video conferencing solutions abound. If you’re already using Office 365, take advantage of Microsoft Teams which is built in.
Need help getting up and running to work from home? We’re here to help. Contact IT Radix today.
First published in our April 2020 IT Radix Resource newsletter