As the world changes before our eyes and the way people work shifts seemingly overnight, an unprecedented number of employees have traded their cubicles for their home offices. And while this shift from office work to home work was already underway, the speed of the transition has been truly mind boggling.

During the transition period, many businesses have discovered the many advantages that telecommuting and a remote workforce can provide. Now that meetings are virtual and workspaces are mobile, businesses can save a fortune on operating costs. Now that employees are working from home, equipment costs, utilities and other fixed expenses have plummeted, giving businesses more capital for other needs.

Those advantages are real enough, but there is another reality lurking just behind the scenes. As millions of office workers have headed home and set up their own offices, armies of cyber criminals have followed them there. With targeted phishing attacks designed to steal network credentials to sophisticated rings of corporate spies out to grab company secrets, the dangers are everywhere.

In this brand new working environment, businesses cannot afford to let cyber security be a mere afterthought. The speed of the transition may have caused managers and executives to skip a few critical steps, but there is still time to correct those deficiencies and protect these new remote workforces.

The speed of the office to home transition has forced many businesses to make do with the equipment their new remote workers already had on hand, including laptops, tablets and smartphones that may not be as secure as they could be. Now that there is time to breathe, businesses can work with reputable IT support partners to roll out their own properly secured equipment, and properly securing distributed IT connections, removing one bit of cyber security vulnerability from the mix.

Businesses can also ramp up their training regimens, giving their new remote workers and telecommuters the defense they need against the new wave of phishing attacks and other targeted threats. And since many of these emerging threats come in through email, IT support can beef up their spam filters, tighten up their firewalls and take other steps to prevent those dangerous messages from getting through.

Another big threat to remote cyber security is closer to home, and it too can be addressed through technology. Since many of these newly homebound workers do not live alone, every unlocked device is another potential security threat. And whether these threats are intentional or inadvertent, the loss of proprietary information and the disclosure of personal data can be just as damaging.

Enforcing all-time encrypted traffic from/to company owned resources and automatic locking policies can enhance cyber security for telecommuters and other remote workers, forcing the lockdown of all network attached devices and helping to prevent the disclosure of private information. And for devices that cannot be automatically locked after a period of inactivity, managers can require remote workers to password protect and lock their mobile devices every time they walk away.

The shift toward remote work and telecommuting has been going on for quite some time, as businesses discover the cost savings, enhanced employee satisfaction and improved work/life balance that comes with remote work. But as this transition ramps up, it is more important than ever for business owners, managers and others to build cyber security into their processes, further protecting their companies, their workers and their customers.

When you choose an IT provider (MSP), always make sure you know what you’re getting as part of the support. Once you sign an agreement, you may find that security is not part of the agreement at all. “Security is extra” they might say. Before you know it, you’ll have spent way more than you should have or, even worse, you’ll expose your business and put its future and existence at risk. At York Computer Services, we make sure to include security in all our offerings.

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