Protect your data when staff work at home

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Protect your data when staff work at home

Secure Email 2FA

During this current pandemic many employees have been forced to work from home, whilst this has been a challenge many have found this new way of working suits them. In fact, many businesses we work with have decided that some (or all) of their staff will be working at home for the foreseeable future (if not full time, then at least part of the week).

Whilst there are undoubted benefits for some of the staff to be working at home, there will be need for them to be accessing important company data, which is essential for the to be able to do their job.

But as an employer how do you know your data is remaining safe?

Some scenarios well worth considering:

* Are staff using company laptops ? Or are they using personal devices ?

* Are staff connecting to a VPN – or are they using cloud services ?

* Are staff accounts protected by Two Factor Authentication ?

* Are they storing company data locally on their laptop or PC ?

Company or Personal Laptop ?

This is an important consideration, because if it is a personal device, there is a strong likelihood it may be being used by others in the household. There is also a strong likelihood it doesn’t have the same level of security as a company owned device may have (secure passwords / encrypted / good quality Anti Virus up to date etc)

If they are using personal laptops, then there is a possibility they are not protected and supported by your IT Support partner. – definitely something you should check.

All of these things drastically increase the potential for hackers to target and attack these devices – putting your company data (documents, spreadsheets, email, etc) at risk.

We’d strongly suggest anyone working at home have a company device which is solely for their use (not the rest of the family). It is also advisable these laptops be encrypted – so, in the event of theft (from burglary) the data on them remains secure.

It is also prudent to have the device backed up – especially it there is lots of company work occurring on it. Full device backups are inexpensive and unobtrusive – they also provide significant peace of mind to business owners.

BitLocker Encryption

With Window 10 Professional you can use the built in Bit locker application to secure the data on this device to protect your business if the device is lost or stolen.

Device Level Cloud Backup

Is the data on this device backed up, it’s one thing knowing your data is secure but if the device is lost or stolen but how do you get this data back? Synium offer serval solutions for document/data backup at a device level.

Mobile Device management

If your staff are using iPhones or iPads (or similar Android devices) to work on – you may also want to consider Mobile device management Using policies you can control what access these devices have and importantly if the device is lost or stolen you can remotely wipe the device to remove any sensitive information.

Are staff connecting to a VPN – or are they using cloud services ?

VPN – Remote Access to the network

One of the most secure ways your remote workers can access resources inside your organisation (eg on the server) is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

A VPN creates a secure connection from your staff’s home across the internet to the company network – allowing them to connect to the company server – or to connect to their PC in the office.

Once connected, employees can access the resources on the network just as if their devices were physically plugged in at the office.

A remote access VPN works by creating a virtual tunnel between an employee’s device and the company’s network. This tunnel goes through the public internet, but the data sent back and forth through it is protected by encryption and security protocols to help keep it private and secure.

Over the last 6 months we at Synium have helped hundreds of our customers go from complete office-based working to fully remote, helping maintain robust security.

Using Cloud services (such as Sharepoint and OneDrive) to store your data

Cloud services (such as Microsoft’s Office 365 with Sharepoint and OneDrive) offer a great way for businesses to ‘move to the cloud’. (See our “What is Sharepoint” article to learn more)

Whilst many of businesses were already using Office 365 for their email pre-pandemic, many have started to embrace the other applications included in an Office 365 licence – the obvious ones being Microsoft Teams (as fantastic messaging and video conference application) – and also Sharepoint (Microsoft’s Intranet system) – which when linked with OneDrive provides businesses a great way to store and access their data remotely and securely.

One caveat with the above – it is imperative that businesses also implement 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) to protect their staff accounts – as bogus emails enticing people to impart their login credentials is a hacking technique which is rife at the moment.

If you haven’t got 2FA setup for your Office 365 accounts, please get in touch – we can certainly help you with this one.

Of course, once you look to store your company data ‘on the cloud’ within Sharepoint, the importance of 2FA and keeping accounts secure is even more crucial (although it is pretty crucial even if you are not using Sharepoint 😊)

Office 365 Backup

The other aspect to consider if you move your data to Sharepoint/OneDrive is that of backups. Whilst Microsoft do retain data that is deleted, it is only for a certain period of time – plus this potentially does not guard against data corruption that goes unnoticed.

Another recommendation would be to implement Office 365 backup solutions for full peace of mind.

If you, or your staff need any help with sorting any of the above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’d be happy to give you advice:


Simon Tonks

Owner and MD of Synium who loves his job, his life and the wondrous outdoors - especially when on a bike of any kind (but preferably on a mountain bike going downhill fast).Please get in touch if there is anything IT related I can help you with (or if you want to talk bikes :-)