The workforce no longer scrambles around the house, running out the door with tie in hand to catch the train into the city. In today’s connected economy, your employees are just as likely to be sipping coffee in their pajamas as they scroll through their email, preparing for their schedule of video conferences throughout the day. While the flexibility of the mobile workforce enables improved productivity and an attractive work-life balance, there are concerns about telecommuting and cyber security that demand your attention.
Collaborative work applications have made it possible for employees to connect with teams from anywhere, even if it’s just the cubicle next door. The technology empowers more efficiency with decision-making, reduces travel costs for meetings and allows for real-time changes in shared files. Whether the apps created the mobile workforce or the mobile workforce necessitated the apps, the reality is that your IT team is no longer managing a contained set of systems behind a firewall.
There’s a difficult question at the heart of telecommuting and cyber security: who’s responsible for securing collaborative apps? Is it the provider or the enterprise? The quick answer is that it’s your company and your data, so you should be taking steps to identify areas of vulnerability and addressing them. The long answer is more complicated.
Identify your risks: Collaborative apps are enabling new levels of productivity and efficiency, but some of their best features are tied to significant risks. For instance, they allow your team to work where they do work best, but unsecured WiFi is everywhere. From the local coffee shop or library to an airport lounge, you’re trusting another company’s security strategy with your data and systems.
In addition, collaborative apps aren’t designed with particularly robust security features. If an employee opens a phishing email with an attachment, and loads that attachment into the app, all of the users of the app are likely to be infiltrated with the malware or ransomware.
Another risky aspect of telecommuting and cyber security is the prevalence of bring your own device (BYOD) programs. Employees appreciate the use of a device they already know and prefer, and employers are relieved of owning and maintaining equipment. The problem is that you also have little or no control over updates, patching or password security on those devices. Instead, you’ll need to set aside some of your budget to invest adequately in training that educates your staff on the importance of each of these areas for their devices.
Managing risk: You could take a dramatic approach and ban your BYOD program, pull all of your employees back into headquarters and eliminate collaborative apps, but none of those options are realistic. Instead, you’ll need to adopt a cloud-based solution for identifying and monitoring data and systems with a comprehensive approach to cyber security. Creating a baseline for monitoring so that any anomaly will alert you to the presence of a potential threat is a critical step for companies prioritizing telecommuting and cyber security.
To leverage the right security tool for supporting mobility and collaborative apps in your organization, contact us at eXemplify. We can help you balance the flexibility of your staff with the best solutions for protecting your data and systems.