What Every IT Manager Should Know About Network Security And Remote Employees

Posted on Aug 27 2013 - 12:34am by Noah Gamer

Online Security

With more companies embracing a lean startup approach to increase employee productivity and creativity while decreasing discontent and complicacy, you may notice some changes at the office.

You’re probably seeing new polices that allow employees to use their own devices for business and work remotely more often. For most employees these changes are great news! However, as a member of the IT team, the introduction of every new policy seems like another nail in the coffin of the company’s network security.

Regardless of whether you’re making, enjoying or dreading these kinds of changes, the trend is happening nationwide. In fact, according to a Global Workplace Analytics white paper called “The State of Telework in the U.S.”:

  • Telecommuting increased 73 percent from 2005 to 2011.
  • 76 percent of telecommuters work for private sector companies
  • Based on current trends, regular telecommuters will be 4.9 million strong by 2016. This is a 69% increase from 2011.

These statistics make it very clear: More people are working remotely than ever before, and the numbers are expected to increase in the future.

So, what can you do to maintain security when the network is accessed by remote employees?

Here are some key things to consider when it comes to ensuring the company’s network and data remain uncompromised, even with more people accessing that network remotely.

Secure Home Network

Although the most difficult of all those listed, it’s the most crucial. Ensuring that employees working from home are accessing the company’s network from a secure home network can reduce security threats dramatically.

Consider creating and distributing a step-by-step guide to make the process less intimidating for employees at any technology comfort level. Include pictures, explicit definitions of key terms and even a how-to video. Although this may seem like a lot more work for you, doing everything you can to protect the company’s data from unauthorized users is worth it.

Remote Access Server

Remote access servers can be your best strategy for keeping the network secure while ensuring that employees can access the network remotely. This, combined with security software such as Trend Micro Small Business Security that can protect 250+ servers, is ideal for businesses. Additionally, a remote access server may also be used as part of a virtual private network (VPN).

The remote access server is a valuable additional level of security. Coupled with a router that forwards remote access requests to another part of the corporate network ensures a small group of modems can be shared among a large number of intermittently present remote-access users.

Company Security Policies

Although being the “IT Police” won’t make you popular, it will keep the network secure and that’s what’s most important. Since IT changes rapidly, be sure to review company security policies often to ensure they are relevant and up-to-date.

Review and assess the current usage policy statements to ensure they clearly articulate users’ roles and responsibilities with regard to network security. Be sure the security policy is stated explicitly regarding how employees can maintain security both onsite and remotely.

Additionally, this document should clearly identify specific actions that violate the usage policy that could result in punitive or disciplinary actions against an employee. Also, articulate how these actions can be avoided and thus avoid future disciplinary action.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Danny Oosterveer

About the Author

Noah Gamer is a driven business leader with experience in Internet marketing, Web software development and eCommerce. Currently, he develops security solutions for Trend Micro.