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Remote working and business security

January 4, 2022

The world of business has changed drastically over the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the global crisis started to bite, many organisations viewed remote working as a non-essential business tool.

However, lockdown restrictions and Government orders to Work from Home (WFH) have seen remote working become critical to how many firms now operate.

Thankfully, we live in a world where technology that enables us to stay connected, 24/7, share critical data and documents online, communicate and collaborate is readily available.

So, as the pandemic continues to abate, the technology and flexible working practices that many firms were forced to use are now enabling them to thrive.

However, although remote working looks to be here to stay, businesses still need to take every possible step to protect their users, systems and data and ensure their people can work from home safely and securely.

Benefits of remote working

Remote or flexible working offers many benefits, both for staff and employers.

While it isn’t for everyone, remote working can help your team members achieve a better work-life balance, with more control over how they like to work. This can result in better staff wellbeing. Office politics, lack of flexibility, and the daily commute to and from work can increase stress levels, whereas offering staff the opportunity to work from home can keep your people happier.

For employers, the main benefits of having a happy, healthy and engaged workforce are numerous.

First of all, the option of flexible working can be a big draw to potential employees, making it easier to attract and retain the best talent in your sector. Conversely, if you don’t offer flexible working patterns and your competitors do, it could put you behind the curve in recruitment terms.

Remote working can also help boost staff motivation, engagement and morale. Several studies have found that remote working can boost staff productivity and performance. Cloud technology plays a vital role in this because it facilitates better communication and collaboration between teams even if they don’t all work in the same location.

Remote working also helps ensure business continuity. As the pandemic showed, businesses that were able to switch seamlessly to working from home when lockdown restrictions kicked in were the ones that continued to provide the same level of service delivery to their customers.

With sustainability high on the agenda and many businesses under pressure to reduce their carbon emissions to help the UK reach its net-zero targets, offering WFH can be an effective way of reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint. Transport remains the biggest source of carbon emissions in the UK, with business travel accounting for a significant proportion of them. So, anything you can do to reduce work-related car journeys will help.

Finally, enabling more of your staff to work remotely can help reduce your physical premises costs considerably. You may not need as much workspace to accommodate a smaller office-based team, while advances in cloud technology can reduce your reliance on expensive ICT infrastructure.

How to set up a secure remote working environment

While WFH and flexible working offer many business benefits, there are also a few key things to consider.

Cyber security is arguably the most important.

It’s vital to ensure that if you’re allowing a large proportion of your staff to work remotely, they can do so safely and securely. Some of the key considerations here include:

Connectivity

The key question to ask yourself here is whether your connectivity can handle all your staff’s requests to connect remotely. Whether you use physical, virtual or hybrid servers, hosted solutions or cloud applications, good connectivity will support your operational delivery and keep your staff productive.

Network access

If several users are trying to access your systems and networks remotely, then protecting their connections with either a virtual private network (VPN) or SD-WAN is essential. A VPN is an internet-based network that enables users to turn a public connection into a private connection. Once connected, any data transferred is encrypted, meaning that any server that intercepts it won’t be able to read or make sense of it, rendering it useless to hackers and cyber criminals. Meanwhile, an SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide Area Network, helps organisations connect over vast distances using internet, LTE, 4G or MPLS connects. SD-WAN is cloud-based, so it removes reliance on physical enterprise datacentres, offering greater scalability and bandwidth capabilities.

Encryption

Encryption is important because it protects confidential information from being hacked or corrupted in transmission. It provides a safe and secure way to send and receive business-critical data. Many software platforms and apps (such as Microsoft 365) come with in-built end-to-end encryption and allow your IT administrators to modify privacy settings to your needs.

Multifactor Authentication

Access to your network and data should be controlled using multifactor – or two-step – authentication. This requires your users to present an additional form of authentication, such as a device-specific password or code, to verify their identity before they can access your organisation’s resources.

Backup

Effective data backup ensures your business-critical data is secure and can be quickly restored if it becomes lost or corrupted. Regularly backing up your data will ensure you can restore the original files from copies in the event of hardware or software failure, virus or malware attacks, hacking or human error. While cloud platforms like Microsoft 365 have in-built backup tools, most cloud vendors operate on a shared responsibility model, meaning that while they take responsibility for the infrastructure, the responsibility for data lies with you. Most will have a data retention policy, but will not backup your data, so ensuring you have an adequate backup solution in place is essential.

How Quintech can help your business work better remotely

As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic rumbles on, one thing’s for sure – remote working is here to stay.

However, as more and more businesses adopt flexible working models and allow their staff to work from home, the cyber threat continues to evolve, which makes keeping up with the latest cyber security trends and technologies essential.

Building and implementing the right strategy for remote working and cyber security is easier with the right technology partner, and that’s where Quintech can help.

We’ll work with your business to understand your needs and develop the right solutions to help keep your systems, data and users safe. Drop us an email today at advice@quintech.co.uk to find out more.