The summer for remote connectivity begins now

Opinion by Dan Raywood

As children break up from school for the summer holidays and trips away from home are planned, the subject of remote workers and the problems surrounding external access arises.

As children break up from school for the summer holidays and trips away from home are planned, the subject of remote workers and the problems surrounding external access arises.

While the challenge of managing personal devices has been well documented, remote workers accessing the network externally presents its own challenges too. Do you provide a VPN for them to connect securely through and if so, how do you ensure that they will use that capability to connect into the network?

Also, if someone does use a corporate-owned or approved device, how can you be sure that security updates and patches are pushed out and applied if an employee is out of the perimeter for one or two weeks?

To get an idea of the scale of a likely connection this summer, a recent survey of 1,000 city workers during July 2011 found that 73 per cent of workers will check their emails whilst on holiday, while 83 per cent of C-level staff will be in touch with their offices throughout their entire vacation.

According to the survey, of that 73 per cent, 54 per cent will check emails at least once a day, while 41 per cent will take a mobile device on holiday for work purposes.

Andy Cordial, managing director of Origin Storage, that conducted the survey, admitted that when corporate information is accessed from a mobile device, whether it is personal or company owned, and it is misplaced there are consequences.

“Who is to blame? Is it the employee who just can't let go or the employer for making them feel that they have to be accessible in the first place? Regardless of why it's happening, our advice to the corporate world is: if you expect to contact your staff while away then it is down to you to secure their devices,” he said.

However with remote working, there is plenty of opportunity to be prepared throughout the year with union and transport strikes not uncommon. Another survey of 1,000 commuters by SecurEnvoy found that 55 per cent of respondents believe that the threat of future strikes would encourage their employers to introduce IT measures that would allow them the flexibility to work from home, should they be affected in the future.

The survey also discovered that the majority of people who are able to work from home do so securely. It found that 89 per cent use a secure connection when communicating with the office, while 44 per cent use a password and two-factor authentication technology.

Bernard Parsons, CEO of Becrypt, whose Trusted Client solution has won the SC Magazine best remote access award for the last three years, said that this is one of the demands that IT managers have to face with workers these days.

He said: “One of the main problems has been business continuity. How do you enable business continuity for workers and guarantee connection for mobile workers? With the US it has been teleworkers with federal departments obliged to provide devices for teleworkers and companies recognise this in terms of the quality of life.

“Honestly it is no longer good enough to be on a home-based machine and this has raised awareness of threats, as companies have allowed employees to enter via their own home machine, we are the only one on the market to offer a service to scale to demand.”

If you are not offering secure connection then this is the season to be prepared as the year of consumerisation meets with a summer of connection.   

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