With increased mobility comes increased risk.The drive towards a more mobile workforce is accelerating. Technology may power the move toward mobility, but it is business driven. Businesses increasingly look toward technology to stay competitive – and joining the mobile movement is a step in the right direction. By empowering employees with remote access, businesses can thrive, improving customer service and adding agility to their business model.
While this movement is beneficial for businesses, increased mobility also brings increased risk. For example, the growing use of social networking and video-sharing websites within businesses has increased network exposure to viruses and malware. Using those sites via roving laptops or handheld devices, which are harder to secure, only exacerbates the risk of importing trouble.
Many organizations avoid enabling remote access for employees for security purposes, often limiting it to a very select group of users. This trend challenges businesses to be more vigilant against unauthorized network access and forces the creation of a well-controlled but user-friendly environment that protects sensitive business information.
Without a doubt, opening your infrastructure to a remote connection involves an element of risk. It is essential to employ proper safeguards to protect your organization from network abuse, data theft, viruses, worms and other network security threats. Below are a few best practices for managing your mobile workforce and wireless network:
- Monitor the Virtual Private Network (VPN): While most operating systems have built-in VPN protocols that are relatively inexpensive, they often rely on little more than usernames and passwords. The lack of strong authentication and encryption components makes it easy for hackers to access the system. To increase security, configure dedicated VPN applications so that all IP traffic passes through the VPN tunnel, allowing access only to select users. To increase protection, a multi-layered security strategy is the best choice; but even with the most sophisticated VPN applications, mission-critical systems containing sensitive business data should employ supplemental file-encryption and authentication tools
- Protect mobile devices: Most security measures can be transparent and user-friendly. Try adding layers to your security strategy, as this significantly raises the barrier to intrusion and data loss. If users have access to notebook PCs or smart phones, implement a layered security strategy by combining password protection, firewalls, partial-or whole-disk encryption and anti-virus/anti-spam software
- Protect and encrypt your password: Ensure that each mobile device is password protected as well as encrypted. Consider using an automatically-generated, one-time password that is only valid for a single login session, leaving the password invalid for future sessions. Finally, encourage employees to use strong passwords. Basic passwords such as “1234” are not sufficient. Password strength increases with an equal mix of numbers, letters, symbols and case sensitive text
- Enforce a remote device security policy: Unfortunately, most network users do not consider security an issue until they have an “incident.” Education is critical for employees, who may not realize they are engaging in risky practices, and who may underestimate the potential impact of their behaviors. Holding training sessions for all users with remote access or mobile devices – and frequently reminding those users of your security policies and practices – will encourage users to become more mindful of their actions
- Keep sensitive data under wraps: Recently, news reports have shown an increase in devices lost or stolen that contain personal and confidential information. In many cases, the lost or stolen devices contain names, birth dates and Social Security numbers for thousands of individuals. Sensitive data should never reside on a mobile device of any kind without a multi-layered encryption. If an organization cannot adequately secure its mobile devices, sensitive data must remain stored on servers in safe, secure locations
- Be cautious of mixing business with pleasure: This point cannot be reiterated enough. Today’s mobile devices are a risk factor in part because employees frequently use them for personal reasons. Educate your staff on how to prevent viruses and worms from spreading via e-mail attachments, social network sites and pop-up notifications, and be sure they recognize phishing scams when they see them. Make sure all employees avoid opening attachments from unfamiliar sources or clicking on questionable links, and remind them that viruses are not just spread from attachments, but from embedded items as well
No matter what size your company, businesses need to prepare for the mobility boom. With more employees going remote each day, it is critical to have security measures in place. By employing these best practices, you’ll be better equipped to protect your mobile workforce and wireless network, and keep out the uninvited.
About CDW:CDW is a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government,education and healthcare. Ranked No. 38 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies, CDW features dedicated account managers who help customers choose the right technology products and services to meet their needs. The company's technology specialists offer expertise in designing customized solutions, while its advanced technology engineers assist customers with the implementation and long-term management of those solutions. Areas of focus include notebooks, desktops, printers, servers and storage, unified communications, security, wireless, power and cooling,networking, software licensing and mobility solutions.
CDW was founded in 1984 and employs more than 6,200 coworkers. In 2009, the company generated sales of approximately $7.2 billion. For more information, visit CDW.com.