Working remotely from home became a ‘new normal’ for many people as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. As an IT company we were – and are – best placed to advise and assist on best practices for Working from Home and working remotely. Following is a list of scenarios with recommendations on the best technology for the circumstances.
Working remotely - Offices with on-premises servers
This is the most common arrangement for companies. Server access is available to anyone with access to the office network. Before working remotely from home became normalised this would simply have meant providing a PC to a member of staff and adding it to the network.
It is entirely possible to extend the network outside of the office via an internet connection for staff working remotely. Easily the best approach for this is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection. This allows the user to sign in to their office network from a computer anywhere they have an internet connection.
A VPN provided end-to-end encryption, in other words, it is a very secure means of accessing your server remotely. In order to set up VPN arrangements, your office systems will need a professional-grade router and network equipment.
An alternative to a VPN arrangement is providing access to your office-based PC using remote-access software. You ‘take over’ control of the computer remotely. However, this can be a bit ‘clunky’ and it also requires a monthly license fee.
We also recommend reading our blog piece on the ideal IT Setup.
Offices with cloud-based servers
A cloud-based server can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection. Therefore working from home and working remotely is ‘built in’.
Shared Document Services (eg Dropbox)
It’s important to understand that these services, whilst convenient, are not a substitute for a server arrangement. They are lacking in numerous areas, and document and structure control can quickly become unmanageable. It’s also important to note that Cloud storage is NOT cloud backup, something that is often not realised by businesses using these systems.
That isn’t to say these services are not suitable for Working from Home for small businesses. It’s important to set them up appropriately and to always use the paid version of the services for security and business-level features.
Working Remotely - Cyber Security at home
This is the single biggest challenge for businesses now that home-working is so prevalent. Cyber attackers achieve more success if there are more ‘attack surfaces’. What do we mean by this? Here is an analogy:
If your business has only one entry/exit door and now windows, then your physical security focus will be on making the door as secure as possible. Locks, bolts, electronic entry systems, bars, whatever you think is necessary. Very secure.
If however you have several doors and numerous windows, your physical security arrangements need to address each and every one of them. These added ‘attack surfaces’ increase the number of ways in which someone can break in.
It’s the same for cyber security. If you only have one port of entry to your network then you can focus your defences on that. Unfortunately, every device with an internet connection is a potential entry-point, or attack surface.
Now add home-user PCs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones working across a home-modem/router. As well as increasing the number of attack surfaces, these can also be weaker from a cyber security perspective. Home modems/routers are usually very inexpensive items of equipment (since they are provided with your home internet package). Have your staff changed the passwords on them? Do your staff home devices have the same anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-cyber measures on them as if they were in the office?
The point is to think of home workers as no different to office-based workers from a cyber security perspective and to ensure the same standards are being met. You can read more about measures your business can take to combat cyber security on our dedicated cyber website.