The Office of National Statistics recently predicted that 50% of the UK’s workforce will be working remotely by 2020.

It goes without saying that technology is a defining factor in this shift, as it continues to remove the need for employees to be tied down to working from a single location. But along with the endless benefits, this freedom of flexible working brings with it the ever-evolving issue of IT security.

Organisations with employees working remotely, in any capacity at all, need to look at their IT security and adopt a different approach in order to avoid any threats. To get you started, we’ve highlighted some of the steps that can be taken to help ensure your remote workforce is protected…

Although software and hardware do now tend to feature a number of advanced security features – which are great at picking up lots of the problems caused by human error – this shouldn’t be solely relied on. One of the biggest threats remote workers have to contend with, believe it or not, is public Wi-Fi. So, make sure your workforce understands the risks!

Whether remote working is already an option or something your business is looking to deploy, we would advise creating a ‘remote working best practice guide’ for employees. This doesn’t need to be overly complicated – just a document that makes those employees aware of any potential issues, with advice on how best to avoid them. Recommendations of what to mention include being mindful of their surrounding when working in a public space, ignoring emails from unknown senders and avoiding downloading or storing work data on personal devices. Your remote workers should also be encouraged to back up data frequently, so that if for any reason a device is lost…your data isn’t.

Another risk worth noting is hackers who have been known to lurk behind “cloned hotspots”. These malicious Wi-Fi networks are created by hackers, using an identical SSID to a safe hotspot in an attempt to trick new users into joining their network. All it takes is for someone to click on the cloned hotspot and they are at risk of sharing their every online move, which could include your business data. This can be avoided by simply alerting your employees to these types of attacks, which they may previously not be aware of, and ensuring they send all sensitive communication via an encrypted VPN.

Also, remember that even if a network is legitimate, public Wi-Fi is still a big concern. It is almost impossible to guarantee that a public network is secure, so it’s safer to refrain from inputting unencrypted sensitive data (such as passwords and bank details, for example) on these networks. In reality, it’s of course impossible to convince remote workers to avoid public networks, so it is essentially your responsibility to ensure your devices are as secure as possible, to minimise those public network threats.

You see, IT security is no longer just about creating a barrier around a central network. It is now about ensuring your employees can safely connect to the cloud wherever they may be accessing it. This means that IT departments need to consider wider risks, such as using devices in public and poor employee security habits.

The most effective way to reduce the risk of your company’s data falling into the wrong hands is to encrypt the devices that your remote workforce use, so that only individual employees or someone with the encryption key can access files. Ensuring all remote devices use dynamic encryption is best way of standardising security.

So, as you’ve probably gathered, keeping your remote workforce safe does require an investment from you. The good news though…we can help to make it hassle-free! We have a team of experts who are ready to talk you through what you need to change in order to keep your business as secure as possible – get in touch today.