With today’s evolving technological advancements and mobile networking capabilities, more and more individuals are taking their work out of the office and into remote locations. While the remote employee may have been the exception in the past, today over 20% of the global workforce works remotely at least part of the time. The ability to work outside the office offers a number of benefits to both employers and employees; it gives employees added convenience and schedule flexibility, can reduce employers’ overhead costs, and allows individuals to pursue and keep jobs regardless of physical location. But telecommuting is not without its issues.

In addition to its many benefits, telecommuting brings with it a new set of security threats. As the computing environment becomes more and more decentralized, keeping networks and data secure presents a growing challenge. Businesses must find new ways to protect their networks against outside threats if they want to avoid the financial, legal, and reputational consequences that often come with a company data breach.

These tips can help your business uphold the safety and security of its networks, without restricting personnel to the physical office.

Have a Written Remote Access Policy

Create system requirements and guidelines for remote workers before allowing them to telecommute. Be aware of all employees who have access rights and perform regular audits to ensure access is being used safely and appropriately. Be prepared to take those rights away from those who no longer require remote access and anyone who abuses these rights according to your written policy.

Enforce Strong Passwords

It’s vital that employees use strong and unique passwords for their accounts. Businesses should require remote employees to use random passwords containing at least 12 characters, including numbers and special characters. Additionally, passwords should be changed every few months, and each account should have a unique password. Some companies even mandate passwords for their employees, keeping the control at the hands of the employer rather than allowing employees to choose their own passwords.

Use Cloud Applications

Web-based applications allow employees to access necessary information from any location. They also leave the data security responsibility in the hands of those who are most equipped to handle it – the cloud service provider. When you migrate data to the cloud, information is stored on an off-site server, usually with enhanced security. By using cloud services to handle business tasks, employees can successfully do their jobs and businesses can rest confidently knowing that sensitive data is secure. Cloud applications can even be used to secure employee web usage.

Create a secure connection to the company network.

Provide remote workers with secure access to your corporate network. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) allow employees to connect to the corporate network from anywhere with an Internet connection using a login or smart card. VPNs provide an extra layer of security when transmitting sensitive data. It encrypts users’ Internet traffic, ensures remote computers have adequate security patches installed, and monitors for viruses and signs of infection.

Limit Remote Access Rights

When companies provide complete access to its telecommuters, it opens the network up to increased vulnerability. Should an employee’s credentials become compromised, the consequences could be catastrophic to the company. Instead, grant users access only to the data and systems directly related to the job. By restricting access, businesses can better manage their security risk.

Keep Virus Protection Software Up To Date

Viruses and malware pose a serious threat to businesses and having remote employees only increases that threat. Every computer connected to the VPN can spread infections throughout the network. Security software such as firewalls and antivirus programs are imperative, but they must constantly be updated to work successfully. It’s not enough to provide employees with these programs; businesses must also make sure their remote employees are using the latest versions of all applications to reduce the risk of a malware infection.

Maintaining network security requires constant vigilance, but it is necessary to keep customer information and sensitive data within your company and out of the wrong hands.

To learn more about network security and to find out how Worldlink can help you reach your wireless network goals, contact us today. And for more technology tips and helpful how-to’s, follow us on Twitter!