Simple Steps for Secure Remote Working

Blog | Posted: 26-03-2020
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For most of us in the tech industry, working remotely is the norm but given the current challenges that the world is facing, lots of businesses are now having to enable their workforces for remote work and in a lot of cases have never had to do this at this scale before.

As the tech manager for Distology, I wanted to share my top 5 tips and practices that we have in place while our workforce is currently remote working to offer some food for thought for others that are going through this process during this time of uncertainty.

  • Application Access

This is probably the most critical aspect to consider when enabling a remote workforce.

Your applications and the data that they hold are mission critical to the organisation. Overly restricted access can hinder the productivity and efficiencies of your workforce, whilst excessive access to data can put your business in jeopardy. Making sure that you secure the access to these applications is paramount.

Identity and Access management (IAM) solutions will ensure that the right people have the right applications and the right level of access to those applications be those based in the cloud or on the company network. These type of solutions are typically enhanced by incorporating Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to add in additional layers of security but good security can make users feel burdened by it, to make life easier for users, implementing single-sign on (SSO) will mean they only need to authenticate once and can get access to the apps they need, securely. A good product will also allow you to delegate responsibilities to team leaders which helps to ease the burden on your technical resource.

At Distology, we use Okta for our IAM, and SSO needs, they do also provide MFA via the Okta Verify mobile app but we also provision our staff with Yubico YubiKeys as an additional factor.

  • Application Security & Updates

New vulnerabilities are found in applications all the time and if left unchecked, these could lead to breaches.

Ensuring that all OSs and application updates are downloaded, tested and implemented will be critical to keeping your apps and the data they hold safe. I cannot stress enough how important this is!

You may find that whilst working remotely, your workforce aren’t downloading those manual updates as diligently as you would like, so plan regular communications with the remote workers to remind them and explain the importance of this.

Mobile Device management tools like Airwatch and Jamf support devices such as laptops, MacBooks and Smartphones so you can enforce the update of your applications if needed.

  • Device Security

Making sure you have a robust security solution installed and active on the devices being used to work from, is just as important as securing access to the company applications as your users will be accessing company data from these devices remotely.

Ensure Anti-malware protection is installed and operational on all devices being used to access company data as a minimum and also look at full disk encryption in case the devices get lost – the chances are a lot higher if your whole company is working remotely!

Apple provides FileVault and Microsoft have Bitlocker natively for encryption on their devices should you need to implement this quickly and there are a range of Anti-Malware solution on the market that can be used for this.

However, if budgets are tight, get a free anti malware solution, they may not be as feature rich as the paid for counterparts but having something available and running is better than having nothing and being exposed.

  • Phishing Awareness

Have diligence when opening/responding to emails & attachments – I know this is going to sound really basic and I’m sure most companies will have put their staff through some form of Phishing Awareness training but make sure your staff (and loved ones – my mum is bad for this) know how to spot a dodgy email and also how and who to report one to so they don’t fall foul of these or any nasty things that they bring with them.

Times like this can be financially strenuous enough without a phishing scam thrown into the mix!

Remote working has been thrust upon a lot of businesses so we will definitely see hackers, crackers etc. trying to exploit this vulnerable time and attempt to get some easy wins.

If in doubt, don’t respond to the email or open the attachments and speak to the relevant people.

  • Stay connected and communicate

Remote working for extended periods of time can make people feel isolated. (Even when social distancing and lockdowns aren’t in place!)

Maintaining a sense of community within the business and also for everyone’s mental wellbeing was one of our top priorities when the team decided to WFH.

We’re using video conferencing services and tools such as Workplace to keep up to date and discuss all things work related but we’re also using it for company-wide “virtual coffee breaks” where people can jump on ad-hoc to just have a chat and a catch-up or “see” each other.

The point is you need to allow your workforce to be able to communicate with each other outside of just email and phone calls, you’d be surprised at just how uplifting it is!


If any of you reading this would like to discuss any of these tips with us or need some advice or support on remote working as a whole please do get in touch with me or the wider Distology team and we’d be happy to help but most of all, stay safe everyone.

Chris Collier,
Technical Manager for Distology

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