March 2020 – the month that the UK went into their first lockdown and the beginning of working from home for many people. According to a government survey, 35.9% of the employed population worked from home for some or all of 2020, which is a 9.4% increase since  2019. Skip ahead to August 2021, 3+ lockdowns later and remote working is rapidly becoming the new way of life for many businesses and workers.

What is Remote Working and Why is it more Challenging for IT Support Services?

Remote working is a way of working in which employees are remotely connecting into the company’s network, away from the office.

IT support services are faced with several challenges when it comes to remote working, these include:

  • Firewalls and connections are often not as secure when working remotely
  • It is more difficult to monitor device usage and updates etc as staff are away from the office
  • You cannot monitor whether staff are following correct data security protocols

There are many other challenges that remote working brings for companies, but the biggest challenge is security. So, the question is, how do you keep your company and employees safe in a remote environment?

Here are our top 10 tips to ensure safe, remote IT support services:

  1. Make Sure All Devices are Encrypted

With employees in the office less, it is more difficult to keep track of company devices. Make sure they all have top quality encryption to keep your company’s data safe.

2. Make Sure the Operating Systems are Still Supported and Ensure They are Kept Updated

It may have only been just over a year since everyone was in the office full time, but a lot can happen in that time.

With Windows 11 on the horizon, make sure the operating system you are using is still being supported by the supplier. Also,  frequently email your team reminding them to update their systems regularly.

3. Enable 2-Factor Authentication

In a time, when the most commonly used password worldwide is still “123456,” we need to find other ways to ensure our devices and files are secure. One way of doing this (which will also strengthen your remote IT support and infrastructure) is by implementing 2-factor authentication, or 2FA. This means that there are two layers of defence when a hacker tries to attack through this route.

4. Enable Find my Device on All Phones and Tablets as well as Remote Wipe

By enabling this application, it will make it easier to find a lost device. If it has been stolen, it can be wiped quickly using  another device  ensuring your data is not compromised.

5. Invest in a Good Quality VPN

For any remote IT support, we always recommend investing in a good VPN or Virtual Private Network. This will give you and your staff extra security when working from home or remotely. It will also protect your data from potential breaches as home broadband connections often don’t have the same levels of security.

6. Supply Cyber Security Training to All Your Staff

Alongside providing a strong remote IT support team, you need to train them in cyber security. Ensure  that all staff know how to recognise malicious emails and identify when a potential breach has occurred They should also know what procedures to follow should they find anything suspicious on their computer.

Data security is everyone’s responsibility, so the more knowledge they have on the topic, the better.  

7. Implement Suitable Email Security Filters

One of the most popular methods of attack is through malicious emails. To help counteract this, make sure you have good email security practices implemented to help filter these out before they reach your staff’s inboxes. Alternatively, train staff on how to identify spoof emails. Refer to this blog for more guidance: How to Spot Spoof Emails.

8. Continually Monitor User Permissions

When part or all of your workforce is hybrid or remote working it is more important than ever to use access control to ensure user permissions are up to date. If anyone leaves or changes roles, make sure the permissions are altered or removed straight away to ensure you don’t leave the network open for potential cyber attacks.

9. Invest in a Password Manager

If you want to encourage your staff to use stronger, longer, and more complex passwords, then utilising a password manager could help significantly. By using this tool, your employees can securely save their passwords into a vault and access them when required. This takes the pressure off having to remember a complex password and also takes the pressure off your remote IT support team as they should receive  fewer password reset requests.

10. Monitor Your Third-Party Vendors and Service Providers

When it comes to remote IT support services, don’t forget your service providers and 3rd party vendors. Find out about their security protocols which are put in place to keep your data and network secure whilst using their software.  You can also check their security ratings online to see how other companies rate them before you decide whether you need to switch to an alternate provider.

There are many more remote IT support tips to help protect your data and network, but these are our top 10. To further support your workforce, we previously wrote an essential checklist for a secure remote workforce. This is a great way to get your employees to ensure they stay safe whilst away from the office.

How Minerva can help

With over 35  years of experience, we have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to business software. From cyber security to cloud solutions we can create bespoke packages to help improve efficiency as well as help systems and networks become stronger and more resilient against cyber attacks

Contact us today to find out how we can help to keep your remote IT support services strong and secure.