Updated: Feb 27
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting call for social distancing and other safety protocols and policies launched a dramatic upsurge in the number of employees teleworking – working remotely from home or other business external locations. The pandemic presented many organizations with an unexpected and unprecedented challenge: How could organizations continue daily business operations securely with personnel accessing the organizational network from disparate locations, via home wi-fi networks, on personal computers, or mobile devices?
Telework Security Risks
Telework security can be a complex issue in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment since a specific set of required standards has not been established that governs all industry manufacturers and the wide variety of electronic devices on the market.
Additionally, employees working from home on their own computers and mobile devices are more susceptible to email scams such as phishing, smishing, and vishing – the most common first point of attack for cybercriminals trying to breach a system, or intrusion via ransomware and other types of malware.
How to Create a Safer Telework Environment
Conduct a comprehensive system audit to determine the vulnerability levels of your organizational data and categorize the data by risk factors such as monetary value, confidentiality, etc., if that data were to be compromised by intrusion, theft, or loss. Use these categories to prioritize and grant employee levels of access, both inhouse and remote.
Establish an advanced set of business and data security protocols and a breach response plan to govern email and general communication, data handling, collaborative sharing, file storage, and physical equipment compliance, such as restrictions on use of external devices like thumb drives, wireless devices, etc., restrictions on visitation of non-work-related websites such as personal email, social media, and shopping sites, and downloading of unapproved software, apps, and/or files.
Provide secure encrypted network access, and based on the value of your data, consider providing the equipment your employees will need to use for teleworking to ensure they are connected to your network, subject to organizational network changes and software updates, and to preclude storage of organizational files on personal computers. While it may appear expensive to provide telework equipment, the risk factor for breach diminishes significantly. Millions of dollars are lost to business data breaches every year, and these are often-irreparable damages that far exceed the cost of providing some basic equipment.
Ensure your employees are well educated on established security policies and protocols as well as any updates implemented and ensure safe password practices and protections are in place and in use.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has produced a cybersecurity information document entitled: Best Practices for Securing Your Home Network to help you better protect your connectivity at home.
A Gold Comet Solution for Telework Security
An excellent example a remote work scenario is the support Gold Comet is currently providing for the Xander Project at the University of San Antonio (UTSA) in Texas, a collaborative effort among several agencies headed up by Mitre Corporation. Faculty and students work collaboratively in this project, using their various computer devices to share and store files and communicate confidential information via email as they conduct analytical assessments and compose reports of their study results. Gold Comet provides the infrastructure for this work, allowing participants access to the secure network once they have passed through all levels of the multi-layered authentication process. Once inside the patented system, all of their interactions, from email to file sharing and storage, remain contained within the Gold Comet Secure Cloud. None of their files are accessible from the Internet and therefore highly secure from intrusion or breach.
Is your organization set up to function successfully in a telework environment? The pandemic and its impact on organizational operations has exposed previously unrecognized system vulnerabilities and brought about permanent changes in the way daily business operations are conducted. As technology continues to advance – and cybercriminals become more adept at intrusion – a secure telework environment has become essential for allowing your important work to continue safely and without intrusion as the culture continues to embrace the work from home environment.