One key element of developing a remote working strategy is ensuring it can be managed securely. 

This was the focus of one of the speakers at our recent webinar. James Field, strategy director at charity-focused IT services provider Smartdesc, highlighted some of the best practices his team have encountered while helping thousands of workers in the sector get set up for home working in recent weeks.

He also highlighted some of the key security settings firms should be putting in place to protect their remote workers, as well as how to spot some of the most common scams and fraud attempts that are aimed at these workers.

You can watch James’ full advice below, or follow the links to see the rest of the webinar. Check back in the coming days to learn more about what our partners had to say.

Part 2: James Field, Strategy Director at Smartdesc

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Part 1: Joel Bramwell, Customer Director at Arrow Business Communications

Part 3: Adam Monks, Head of Technology at Mind

Part 4: Ben Neo, Head of UK Charity Sector at Mitel 

The risks posed by data sprawl

One of the biggest issues for many companies when moving to a more agile way of working will be keeping all the various devices in use under control. Many workers will be using personal devices, ranging from desktop and laptop PCs to tablets or even smartphones to handle their activities. At the same time, the number of apps in use is also on the rise as people look for services that fit into their new way of working. 

James explained staff are exploring tools such as Dropbox, Slack and Microsoft Teams on their own, which makes it very difficult for IT teams to keep control of how data is being used.

He added: “What we’ve seen is a real explosion in the number of tools that are suddenly available to everyone. The risk that comes with that is one of data sprawl, where your organisational data just leaks out over the internet.”

The best way to deal with this challenge is to focus on policy and governance – in other words, ensuring workers have clear guidance and policies from their company on what activities and apps are and aren’t acceptable.

Key steps to keep your systems secure

It’s vital that security and data protection issues remain a priority when working from home. It can be easy to overlook this once people are out of the traditional office environment, but the same rules, such as reporting data breaches promptly, still apply.

When it comes to technology many users may not have used before, such as videoconferencing, it’s also vital for workers to ensure they have the right settings in place. For example, ensuring that only the host is able to share their screen can prevent the problem of ‘Zoom-bombing’, which many people may have experienced during video calls, while turning off file transfers is also essential.

It’s also important to ensure all tools and devices are fully up-to-date – and this is especially true when dealing with large numbers of personally-owned devices. James noted it’s incredible how many people simply ignore prompts for patches like Windows Updates, so reminding users about these simple steps is essential.

Looking out for fraud

A major challenge for home workers at the current time is the risk of fraud, as criminals are eager to take advantage of any changes in policies or uncertainties caused by a shift in working habits.

One of the most common threats is phishing. James noted that Smartdesc has seen a huge rise of coronavirus-related scams such as emails purporting to be from the World Health Organization seeking to take advantage of people’s fears. Therefore, it’s important that users know how to spot these and who to notify about suspicious communications.

James said: “If you get one [of these phishing emails] in your organisation, share that knowledge around. So popping a note on Slack or Teams saying ‘I’ve just got a spam email. Watch out if anyone else gets it, it’s fake.”

Indeed, James noted that boosting user education is vital in keeping remote working secure. There are a range of resources that can be used to help with this, such as advice from the National Cyber Security Centre, which offers a range of easy-to-understand tips that can be shared with home workers.

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