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The Security Spotlight has turned to Remote Workers

Ensuring mobile security for your remote workers
Written by Jon Tucker - General Manager Solutions, Engineering & Quality for Panasonic Mobile Solutions Business Division Europe

The Security Spotlight has turned to Remote Workers

Ensuring mobile security for your remote workers

Before the pandemic, figures from Eurostat showed that 10% of employed people in the EU were workng remotely. That’s around 25 million people across the EU28. But with that number now turned on its head with the majority of the EU workforce having to work from home in recent months, the implications for mobile security are significant.

A Gartner survey of 229 human resources managers on 2 April revealed that while 30% of their employees worked remotely at least part of the time before the coronavirus pandemic, 81% or more are currently working remotely and 41% are likely to do so at least some of the time once a return to normal working is permitted.

With this rapid and radical change in the work environment, comes a new cyber-related security threat. The migration of the workforce from offices with enterprise networks that are closely monitored and secured to largely unmonitored and unsecured home wifi networks is bound to be an opportunity to good to miss for cybercriminals.

So what can businesses and their mobile workforce do to protect their valuable business data?

There are a number of tools available to stay one step ahead of the next threat. Working together, IT admnistrators and the remote workers themselves can ensure their mobile devices are as safe as possible. Here are 5 things to consider:

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1. Mobile Device Management (MDM) 

Mobile security is only as strong as its weakest link. A good MDM solution makes it easier to secure and manage mobile devices through their entire lifecycle. The three stages of MDM are provisioning, production, and decommissioning. Each stage involves a comprehensive set of procedures to help ensure enterprise mobile adoption goes smoothly and IT policies are set and followed. From a security perspective, it can be used to:

  • Restrict a mobile device to a single app or suite of apps to ensure device security, corporate data privacy and worker productivity.
  • Automatically configure device connectivity (3G/4G, Wi-Fi and VPN) to ensure secure communication from any location.
  • Enhance location services to allow the business to view the current location of all online devices, while offline devices report their last known location until they reconnect.
  • Deploy precise user permissions to specify which individuals in the organisation have permissions to access, alter or upload and download information.

2. Security software and regular data backups 

Mobile workers face the same, and possibly a greater threat, from all the familiar security tricks that enterprises have had to combat, such as phishing attacks and ransomware. To ensure that data is not at increased risk when working remotely, virus security software should be up to date and provision made for regular data back-ups to protect information.

 

3. Physical device security

Just like other electronics, mobile computing devices are vulnerable to theft from the home or when working on the move. While asset tracking and recovery are important features made possible with MDM, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices, for example, also allow for the physical “locking” of hardware. Also look for device manufacturers that can offer docks and mounts that can secure the device to a desk or in a vehicle. Lastly, consider multi-factor authentication for device access.

 

4. Good employee training 

The biggest potential threat to security is people themselves and when under pressure or operating in a rapidly changing and new environment these threats can be exasperated. So ensuring best practice guidelines are issued to all remote working staff is a must and refreshers in cybersecurity awareness training should be considered.

 

5. Creating a Custom Security Solution with BIOS-embedded Technologies 

Consisting of a persistence module that’s installed during the device manufacturing process (e.g., Panasonic computers have BIOS-embedded security from Absolute built-in) and an application agent installed by the organisation itself, BIOS-embedded technologies provide an advanced level of protection for mobile workforces.

Using this application agent, IT can preset these agents to automatically delete sensitive company data or lock a device if it hasn’t connected and reported into a server within a proscribed number of days. Even if a mobile device has been wiped, the BIOS-embedded persistence module can provide forensic evidence for recovery once the application agent has been activated and the device is reconnected to the Internet.

In addition, businesses could look to deploy mobile computing devices based on Microsoft’s latest generaton of Secured-core PC. Designed with deep integration between hardware partners such as Panasonic and software and featuring the most advanced CPUs available, Secured-core PCs are intended to handle mission-critical data in some of the most data-sensitive industries.  A Secured-core PC is a modern Windows device that comes with the highest level of hardware, software and identity protection ready right out-of-the-box.

 

Solving the Mobile Security Challenges of Remote Working

With new home workers reporting in Personnel Today that 77% feel their employers have done a good job handling the remote work transition and three-quarters saying they believe their manager trusts them to be productive from home, this mobile workforce change looks set to stay in some form in the “new normal”.

In addition to purpose-built hardware, Panasonic also works with a number of software partners to enhance and support secure mobile working.

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If you would like to discuss any of the topics featured on this blog or want one of our experts to get in touch to see how we can help with your IT mobility challenges, then please use the Contact Us button to get in touch.

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