Indepth: Remote Security

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Thinking of SecurityAs a technology company, one of the biggest issues clients ask us about is security. We'll return to this subject frequently, with this issue focusing on laptops for remote working. It's not just about theft of your laptop, it's about ensuring that it keeps on working for you and not losing precious information.

Follow these tips to make remote working and your data safer and more reliable, particularly if you sometimes work from home.

Don't let the kids near your laptop. If you want your kids to have a computer then get them one – don't let them use the one you use for work. Children are not very knowledgeable when it comes to security so you may find that your laptop has viruses and Spyware which came from their conversations on Messenger or via social networking sites.

Have a dedicated broadband line. ISPs (the people who provide your broadband and internet connections) have different levels of service for domestic and business users. Business users get priority access, more reliable connections, faster speeds and more security on the line. So if members of your family want to use Youtube and talk via Facebook, get them a separate, low-cost, mass-market, consumer broadband line for it. You should be using a dedicated, secure business service from a reliable, quality provider.

Be careful what you store on it. You can save work in two places; directly on to your laptop, or on a shared drive if you have remote access to your server. If you save it to your laptop and it's stolen or crashes, you'll have lost everything you've saved. Including the entire company database if you were working on it. Much better to set up a remote connection, save it to the server and then delete if from your laptop. Then it'll also be backed up when the server back-up routine is performed.

Incidentally, this secure remote connection is another reason why you should use a dedicated business broadband line rather than a mass-market ISP advertised on television. A business provider will be able to provide an appropriately secure connection.

Information SecurityEncrypt sensitive data. If you must save sensitive data on your laptop, e.g. databases or company records, ensure it is securely encrypted so that only people with the encryption key can access the data. This also applies if you have to send data, perhaps on a disk via the post or a courier. The key must not be kept with the data though and should be completely separate.

An example of this would be sending data from one branch of a company to another. The data would be encrypted and then recorded to a CD before being sent. The recipient should be told precisely when it is due to arrive and then, when it does, they have to telephone for the key which both prevents unauthorised access and confirms safe receipt.

Have the latest in security software installed and up-to-date. Your company may have the latest security software installed including anti-virus, spam detection, spyware/adware removal etc., but you won't have it on your laptop unless you have it specifically installed. The one that came with it will not be good enough in a business setting. Creating a connection to your server invites hackers, crooks and thieves to access your company server by accessing your PC first (especially if you have a mass-market consumer broadband connection) and then into your server via your link.

You need the same standard on your laptop as you would apply to your server. Without it, you're very vulnerable.

You also need to keep it up-to-date as new threats are discovered every day. Quality security software will probably provide a security update every day which is downloaded over the internet. You should make sure you also do this with your laptop.

Don't use a permanent IP address. This is one for your IT department to consider when they are setting up your remote connection. Make sure you have a roaming profile or point-2-point set up rather than a permanent IP address.

Following this advice will help to ensure a safer and more reliable remote working environment. We can't promise that your laptop will never be stolen or infiltrated by crooks, but at least the risk to your company will be greatly reduced.