How to maintain high levels of security whilst allowing mobile working

Mobile working has opened new doors for businesses all across the UK. Thanks to mobilisation of workforces, companies can free up staff to work more flexibly, driving up productivity and creating a happier and more engaged workforce with a better work-life balance. 70% of workers feel that being offered flexible working makes a job more attractive and 58% believe that it would make them more motivated. So, flexible working is a reality now for many UK businesses and one that brings many benefits too. However, it also has risks the biggest of which is security – how do you maintain a mobile workforce as well as keeping security levels high?

The risks

When employees are able to access internal networks outside the office this creates a number of risks. These primarily result from:

  • Loss or theft of devices
  • Tampering if device is left unattended
  • Being observed by others in public spaces
  • Login credentials that are with a device that is stolen
  • Using unsecure public networks

Protecting your business

There are a number of steps that employers can take to ensure that mobile working doesn’t come with a disproportionate level of risk.

Encrypt all data – this is the highest level of protection for your business data and should be a baseline for those accessing it remotely. Encrypted data means that it is only accessible to those with the encryption key so even if a device is lost or stolen the information on it can not necessarily be accessed.

Establish a mobile working policy – do your staff know the standards of security you require of them? Are they aware of the consequences of a data breach? If you have a mobile working policy that sets out what your expectations are then there can be no ambiguity.

Stay on top of security – every device should have the same high level of security and it’s crucial to ensure this is maintained. Updates and patches should be installed as soon as available to avoid becoming susceptible to undiscovered vulnerabilities. If staff are using their own devices then it’s a good idea to incorporate this updating requirement into a mobile working policy.

Insist on secure network use – public networks are simply not as secure as private, password protected networks. If your mobile staff are logging on to a public network in their local coffee shop or at an airport then they are putting your business at risk. Ask staff to ensure they are using a private network for work purposes – particularly if they are sharing any data that might be confidential or material that is sensitive.

Set data sharing boundaries – it must be clear to anyone who is working on a mobile basis that just because they have access to information or data outside of the office, it can’t be freely shared. Be very clear about the penalties and consequences for data that ends up in the wrong hands.

Passwords – for a long time now one of the most common passwords has been ‘password123,’ so, it’s no wonder that hackers have such an easy time. Ask your staff to choose long passwords (8 characters or more) with a combination of capital letters, lower case letters, symbols and numbers. You could also consider account password resets every 3-6 months.

These are just a few ways that you can maintain high levels of security whilst allowing mobile working. For more tips and advice, get in touch with help4IT today.