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Keeping Your Business Data Secure for Telecommuting Employees

File folder with a combination lock found on a safe Telecommuting, or the notion of employees working remotely, is becoming a popular option for many small business owners. It is cost saving to not only you the business owner, but the environment as well. In addition, it helps keep employees happy by allowing them to work from home, which can be a much less stressful environment. But before you start handing out company issued mobile devices for your remote workers, you may want to consider the network security of said devices. While hacking remote access networks is much harder than your in-house IT systems, the notion of cyber crime is on the rise and those pesky hackers are beginning to target sloppy remote access networks. So what can you do? We’ve provided four tips for how you and your small business can better secure its remote access networks and begin implementing a telecommuting policy within your business. 1.     Limit Access One of the easiest ways to protect your data is to limit access to those on a need-to-know basis. There is no reason to issue access to everyone who works remotely. Consider the tasks of each worker and determine whether or not they need remote access to your IT network. 2.     Use VPNs VPNs or Virtual Private Networks, grant secure, remote access to internal IT systems for your remote employees as if they were accessing it directly. This is great since users are now able to work remotely without modifying any of the existing IT systems. However, this type of access comes with its risks. Many of the physical security systems in place (walls, locks, limited IP addresses) are no longer in place. Therefore, the system may believe a hacker, one pretending to be a remote worker, is actually within the confines of your business. 3.     Use SSL Encryption Also known as Secure Sockets Layer, SSL Encryption ensures the protection of your data during online transactions. While many of your employees may be working from home, there is always the off chance that they’ll be more motivated to complete work while at the local coffee shop. To protect your data from a nosey data seeker, it’s best to implement a SSL certificate for your remote workers. 4.     Enforce Stringent Password Policies The word “password” is not a great password. Ok, that was a bit extreme, but many times we use obvious and ineffective passwords to protect our sensitive data. For example, using your business name in your password will likely to get your information hacked. We recommend using randomly created passwords with a minimum of 12 characters. You may even want to go one step further by incorporating a password that expires every three months. This will ensure that your passwords are consistently fresh, making it tough for hackers to crack. As the mobile workforce continues to grow, it’s important for business owners to understand the security of the mobile devices they are issuing to employees. These are just a few safeguards you can begin to implement in your policy, but we want to hear from you. Do you have a telecommuting policy in place for your business? If so, how are you ensuring your remote access networks are safe from malicious attacks?