With a rapidly increasing number of people working from home across Australia, having systems and structures in place to protect your team and your data is of paramount importance. In this digital age, laptops and the right IT systems to work remotely are essential for employees to be able to continue to do their job effectively.

The difficulty of managing a team remotely reaches far beyond what we will discuss in this article however what this article discusses are two focal points for employers to consider when managing a team remotely, whilst being proactive about the security of your business and its employees.

 

Being Proactive About the Security of Your Team and Their Work

The two focal points for consideration in this article are:

  • Protecting your team’s hardware and devices, and;
  • Protecting your business’ software and security.

As Australia adapts to an increasingly remote workplace, your business not only needs to adapt, but be proactive in maintaining security standards, to ensure your business and the information it stores, are safe and secure.

When considering what the threats are to your team as they work remotely, they come in the form of power surges and faulty electrical work that can damage hardware as well as cybercriminal acts that can access sensitive data and potentially infect your devices with malware. The main goal is to protect the physical devices as well as the information and data from hackers, so that your team can get on with doing the work that they are best at.

 

Protect the Team’s Hardware and Devices

In your efforts to protect your team, you’ll need to consider that as your team works remotely, you won’t have the same level of control over the environment they are working in as you do in a commercial office space. This includes the electrical components that your team relies on to be able to do their work. Being very reliant on laptops and computers, your employees are even more reliant on safe and reliable electrical connections to be able to work from home.

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Power Surge Protection

One of the most common causes of damage to electronic devices is a power surge.  A power surge is a sudden electrostatic discharge that can destroy hardware components on your computer, smartphone, and other connected devices. In a regular office, a commercial electrician would install and maintain any surge protective features, but when your team is working from home, you don’t have the same degree of control.

Educating your team on the importance of surge protection is one step that you can take to encourage proactive protection of your team’s devices.

So, how does surge protection work? Surge protection devices will prevent most types of electrical damage to hardware by automatically cutting off the power when it detects an abnormally high voltage passing through the power cord. Surge protection devices can be external devices you plug into a power outlet (most common for home offices and working remotely), they can be powerboards with surge protection features inbuilt, or they can be installed into the electrical circuit itself at the power board by an electrician.

Other advice for your team to protect their hardware is to create the habit of shutting down their computer properly when not in use, to disconnect devices when there is a storm and to leave antivirus software enabled at all times to protect against certain types of attacks, including ransomware and malware which frequently target computing devices.

Enable automatic updates for the antivirus software and Windows itself to make sure that they are protected from the latest threats. Also, keep all of their other apps (such as Adobe Reader or Browsers) updated at all times.

 

Protecting Your Team’s Data Using Cloud-Based Services

Many companies are now using managed cloud services for all their business data, this means that you don’t have to rely on the storage space of their computer or mobile device. There are many benefits to using cloud based software for your team including that everything is stored in one central location, which is accessible to your team from whatever device they use. This can help decrease delays in communication, prevent errors and double ups, and helps to promote transparent and smooth communication within and between teams.

With cloud-based services such as Office 365, everything saves automatically, which allows for the continuity of projects. So, even if your employee’s computer gets damaged while working from home, they can continue to work on a new laptop using their cloud-based service accounts where it’s been securely maintained.

A cloud-based service also allows collaboration and sharing of data with other employees and team members across the company. This also means that if another employee (or even you as a manager) needs access to information, it doesn’t have to be transferred via email or USB drive. It can be sent through secure cloud servers where only authorised users can view them.

 

Protecting Your Team’s Software

Many software malfunctions and exposures happen because of ignorance, usually innocent. Most people have heard of or even experienced it first hand, where someone clicks a suspiscious link which leaves a device vulnerable to malware.

Anyone can unknowingly become a victim to a cyberattack because of the degree of sophistication that hackers have developed. Hackers can mimic or compromise legitimate, remote login servers to hijack credentials, gaining full access to your computer while you’re away, and then granting access to your business environment.

One of the most important things you can do to protecting your business from malware and ransomware is to install security software, keep software updated and to educate your team on not exposing your software to malware by downloading, streaming or even simply clicking a suspiscious link. When accessing sensitive information including payment information, client data etc., your team should be advised to utilise work or private wifi connections as opposed to public.

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Conclusion

As you can see, there are two key ways to protect your team as they work remotely:

  • Protecting the hardware, and;
  • Protecting the software.

By taking a proactive approach in protecting your team, you will save your business a lot of money and time in damages brought about by hardware and software malfunctions that are most of the time preventable in nature. By ensuring that your hardware and software are running optimally,  your team will be able to focus on what they do best.