3 steps to ensuring secure and productive work from home practices

Many people are talking up the prospect of the hybrid workplace, where we spend part of our working week in the office and part toiling at home. But what does this mean for connectivity back into the enterprise and more importantly, the security of those connections?

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The modern workplace is upon us.  And if Covid has taught us anything, it has reinforced the concept of work as something we do, not where we go.

Many people are talking up the prospect of the hybrid workplace, where we spend part of our working week in the office and part toiling at home.

But what does this mean for connectivity back into the enterprise and more importantly, the security of those connections

The threat landscape is evolving rapidly and malware is on an exponential growth curve.  Ransom DDoS (denial of service) extortion attacks, web-based SQL injections, phishing attempts and business email compromise (BEC) are all on the rise.

As recently as March, we learned from law enforcement authorities here that €10.5 million was stolen from Irish businesses through invoice redirection fraud, a form of BEC.  And that only covers the cases we know about.

It’s likely to represent a huge underestimation of the actual figure.

So why should we be allowed to use a shared internet connection from home, where Jack and Sarah are gaming away to their hearts’ content and Michael is looking to stream an unreleased episode of his favourite series from some dodgy web server in outer Mongolia (no disrespect intended to outer Mongolia)?

Surely, the internet connection we use at home should have at least a comparable level of security and protection to that available in the office.

However, dedicated internet connections for home workers are the exception rather than the norm and on the face of it, it’s very difficult to understand why.

Not only do they typically deliver better performance (after all you’re not sharing the connection with anyone else at home), but they are inherently more secure.

Work from Home
Call Recording

Take ransomware as a case in point.

Many ransomware attacks come in the form of phishing emails, with disguised EXE files that pose as innocent Word documents or Excel spreadsheets.  It’s so easy for an unsuspecting user to inadvertently click on the document, download the file and unleash the virus on their device and potentially onto the corporate network.

According to software security provider, Sophos the total cost of recovery from a ransomware attack has more than doubled in a year, increasing from $761,106 in 2020 to $1.85 million in 2021.

It’s a scary figure and one, which is likely to put the fear of God into any member of senior management.

But there are steps you can take today to protect home workers and the corporate resources they access on a day-to-day basis.

  1. Get a dedicated, private connection with a fixed IP address
    What does this mean exactly? It means that your identity is assured in terms of accessing computing resources through your corporate firewall.  Unlike dynamic IP addresses which can change each time you log onto the internet from a domestic connection, fixed IP addresses are assigned by your service provider on a permanent basis and they can be easily authenticated with your corporate firewall, giving you access to the apps, files and folders you need to do your job.If you want to move files either to or from the corporate network, I’m doing it from an identified IP address so back at base, the IT team can lock the network down to this identified IP address.

    Commonly called ‘pin hole’ access, this methodology creates that fixed link between your connection and your device and makes it much easier to connect to computing resources.  Of course, that end device must also have some form of anti-virus/anti-malware end point protection but that will be defined by usage policy in your organisation.

  2. Make sure the connection is managed and encrypted
    A managed connection means that your service provider has ‘eyes’ on it at all times. For example, this allows your service provider to receive an alert when the connection goes down or perform a certain amount of remote troubleshooting if there are issues with it.For example, they can typically test the link remotely, reset the link completely or even log onto the modem and make any adjustments or configuration changes.  Unless it’s the physical wire that’s been damaged by a JCB or a storm, your managed connection will deliver a much higher degree of reliability and less network downtime.


    A managed connection is also delivered by a managed device and because of the configuration of the firewall at base, all traffic between the end point and the network core is encrypted.  This offers great peace of mind, particularly if you’re working on commercially sensitive data or accessing critical applications related to finance or banking.

  3. Ask yourself whether you can quickly reach technical support
    This is critical and perhaps one of the most frustrating things we come across when talking to people who work from home on a regular basis. Tech support levels vary widely across service providers, particularly if you’re working off a home-based connection.  Many of us will be familiar with the horror stories of waiting hours to speak to someone in technical support and weeks to actually get the connection repaired and restored.  This just won’t cut it in a business environment.

    As a business service (and not a domestic one), you should be able to access responsive technical support with a human on the other end of the phone.  As a busy executive, you can’t afford to be spending hours on hold, in the vain hope that someone will eventually pick up your call.  You need an enterprise-grade support service that will give your business the attention it deserves, so you can maximise your productivity and reduce those frustration levels.
 

At Telcom, we provide bundles of executive connectivity (minimum 5 lines) with dedicated fibre to the home or fibre to the cabinet solutions.  This connectivity has all the advantages mentioned above and billing goes directly to the contracting organisation, not the individual user.

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