Remote work has long been business as usual in some workplaces. But due to the global coronavirus pandemic, remote work is becoming the new normal for many organizations as a strategy to keep employees safe, healthy, and connected while working from home. These organizations have been forced to quickly adapt. In the U.S. alone, VPN usage increased by 53% in just one week (March 9-15) to accommodate business adjustments.
In this rush to set up remote systems, there is the real risk of settling for quick fixes that may wreak havoc in both the short term and long run. To keep your company secure and efficient during the current crisis and beyond, keep these key factors in mind:
Choose the Right Gateway for Your Business
First things first, having the right gateway for offsite access is a critical piece of any remote work setup. There are many options, but these four are the most common:
- VPN: Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow secure access from an employee device to the VPN gateway and then to a company’s internal network. In this setup, your security measures are extended to the VPN, which then provides a secure access point through which employees can work. In some cases VPN gateways can even extend your business’s firewall rules to your employee’s devices (a huge security asset).
- Portals: With a portal setup, employees access company data and applications through a browser-based webpage or virtual desktop. All applications and data are stored on the portal’s server and cannot be downloaded or saved on an employee’s device without permission to maintain control over who is accessing your data and how it is used.
- Remote Computer Access Service: This setup allows employees to remotely control a computer at your business via an intermediate server or third-party software. Applications and data remain on your office computer, and your network’s cybersecurity measures are enforced. In essence, the remote device acts as a display for work done on the office machine.
- Direct Application Access: Direct application access is considered the lowest risk to an organization’s cybersecurity because it is best used only with low-risk applications. Because employees don’t have access to the entire network, they can work on select applications, for instance, email, without exposing your internal network to danger.
Depending on your business needs, you may need one or more of these working in concert to meet your employees’ needs in a secure environment. No matter which network option you choose, though, it should only be used with properly configured, company-owned hardware to maintain high-security standards and minimize the risk to the internal network.
Ensure the Security of All Remote Connections
Security is always a priority for organizational networks, but with employees scattered and likely working from their own devices, ensuring security through all access points becomes more challenging.
New devices, particularly mobile (phones, tablets) are common points of weakness in remote networks. And keep in mind, no matter how good your cybersecurity measures are, if the employee’s home computer doesn’t have the same protections as the office workstations, malicious data can slip into your network unnoticed during a remote desktop connection.
Even if you already had remote capabilities in place, you likely weren’t supporting the volume you are now, so make sure your security setup is up to the task. Whether it’s an outdated firewall or new mobile devices with access, consider all access points when tightening up security for remote working.
Check Those Access Privileges
Access privileges should always be a priority, but this step becomes even more vital in a remote working environment. Ensuring best practices are in place — not allowing employees admin access, multi-factor authentication, and need-to-know access — are important on-premise, but become even more so with a distributed workforce.
Allow for Sufficient Network Bandwidth
You no doubt have all of your network needs down to a science, as long as everyone is working from the office. But now that employees have multiple points of access, there’s a lot to consider. To get a handle on these quickly changing bandwidth needs, many organizations are running one-day tests with a select group of employees working from home to assess how much bandwidth will be needed. Tests like this can help avoid crashes and lag times in the future.
In the days, weeks, and months ahead, businesses of all shapes and sizes will be faced with unexpected technological challenges as they work to maintain business continuity. Having the right IT knowledge to quickly make these shifts will be critical. Centrilogic is here to help in these unprecedented times.