Achieve on-premises level security for cloud-based remote teams

Laptop at home for remote working

In recent years, where and how we conduct business has been through a slow but significant change. An increasing number of people across a wide and growing range of business sectors in London and beyond have begun to work remotely. Undoubtedly, the coronavirus pandemic has turbo-charged that shift. As a result, many small to medium-sized London businesses are now struggling to achieve on-premises level security for their cloud-based remote teams.

This pressing issue leads us to look at it head on. As we work wherever we can access WiFi, and coronavirus forced most of us to do so at home, we require a separate solution. Remote Security, also known as RemoteSec, is the new must have for cloud-based remote teams.

The research speaks for itself as currently 58% of UK employers are offering remote work to viable staff. Furthermore, a study by Upwork Global called the New Future Workforce Report, suggested that by 2028 up to 78% of all commercial departments would have remote workers. While the trend is predicted to impact organisations of all kinds, small to medium-sized companies are more likely to hire remote workers. According to Owl Labs, SMEs are twice as likely as larger enterprises to hire full-time remote workers. And more recent studies suggest that SMEs are leaning more towards hybrid working to access a wider talent pool.

Safe working at home means you need to achieve on-premises level security for your cloud-based remote teams

So, in this blog post we’re going to cover what you need to consider to achieve on-premises level security for your cloud-based remote teams. Below you’ll discover:

The security challenges that come with the growth in remote working

Even before the spread of coronavirus, savvy business leaders were already preparing their cybersecurity defences for a combination of remote and on-premises working. To enable your team to work remotely and safely you’ll have to rethink the security perimeter around your business.

Previously, it was easy to create and enforce an on-premises cybersecurity policy. The traditional onsite security procedures are simple yet effective. As you probably know, these involve a combination of technical controls and physical access limitations managed via a centralised administrative hierarchy. But, as your team becomes increasingly distributed, doing what you’ve always done is not going to be enough.

What is RemoteSec and why is it on the rise?

RemoteSec is a set of security tools, policies and protocols that govern the IT infrastructure which support your remote workers. As they tend to rely heavily on Cloud platforms, RemoteSec addresses security challenges that almost always fall under the cloud working category. Even other technologies, such as virtual private networks (VPNs) are usually employed to establish secure connections to the Cloud.

So, the key challenges are therefore threefold:

  • To replicate the strengths of your on-premises security within a Cloud environment
  • To understand the role Cloud security plays in securing the technology of your remote teams and
  • To ensure you still safeguard the overall security of your business

What are the differences between RemoteSec and your overall cybersecurity policy?

As the name suggests, RemoteSec focuses on securing your remote teams and all the cloud resources they use. Meanwhile, your overall cybersecurity policy covers your complete on-premises defences.

However, the latter will need to be evolved and extended to cover the broader security issues which may emerge when your remote workers rely on a cloud infrastructure.

What are the challenges facing RemoteSec?

Your remote workers might not necessarily just be your employees, of course. Your remote team could include a whole host of freelancers, contractors, resellers, dealers, distributors and other business partners here in London and elsewhere.

The other complicating factor is that working remotely doesn’t just mean working from home. As we said earlier, many of us can work from anywhere given we can access WiFi. So, your remote team could work in any space, from their local coffee shop to a train carriage on their daily commute.

This unique, unpredictable, and diverse set of workers, places and conditions forms the fundamental challenges RemoteSec must overcome.

We have two examples to make the dangers clear. Firstly, 46% of staff admit to moving business files between the office computer and their personal computer whilst working remotely. A further 13% admit to sending work emails via their personal e-mail address because they cannot connect to an office network.

RemoteSec – what are the crucial considerations?

Where are your remote workers?

Your remote team could be situated locally, nationally or internationally, but wherever they are in the world they’ll face differing security challenges. This is because each part of our globalised economy has its own unique IT infrastructure characteristics.

So, it’s essential that you standardise the remote work environments for the entire team to utilise. Start with a VPN and virtual desktop to help create a uniform, secure basis for your remote workers.

Establish effective remote data security policies

Your remote workers may access public unsecured WiFi hotspots, potentially exposing your company’s confidential data to cybercriminals. They may also use free data storage tools like Google Drive, which can be vulnerable to ransomware attacks.

Your comprehensive cloud security policies should then cover the use of remote data access, public hotspots, and USB devices. Furthermore, it should clearly establish the requirements for safe device and password management, network compliance and so on.

IT and network infrastructure

Remote workers tend to use multiple endpoints (i.e. devices) to gain access to the company resources. The trouble is personal devices won’t be managed by your business. Or worse, they may be connecting to your business’ server through an unsecured network.

If this is likely to be the case amongst your employees, you should issue policies about mobile device management (MDM) and using secure VPNs. In addition, you should deploy cloud-based endpoint security on all remote devices they use and enforce secure Cloud network protocols. This will ensure your remote team does not circumvent network or endpoint security measures.

Beware of ‘Shadow IT’

Not all your remote workers will be tech-savvy. This is a significant concern because they are unlikely to have easy access to your in-house or outsourced IT support specialists. This may apply to remote workers external from your business, i.e. contractors or freelancers.

As a result, if they experience technical problems, they may turn to non-secure, outside IT support. They are also known as ‘Shadow IT’. Subsequently, they can leave your company’s infrastructure, data, IP, and confidential resources at risk. Using cloud tools to deliver IT support can help maintain seamless security across your technical and non-technical remote workforce.

Changing hearts and minds so your cloud-based RemoteSec is given equal status to your on-premises security

Your on-premises security can be seriously compromised by a hybrid workforce. The combination of remote teams and in-house professionals will use a diverse range of endpoints in a wide range of locations. Ultimately, this leaves more vulnerable avenues for attack.

What’s more, when employees rush to work remotely, the dangers to your IT and online security multiply. Why? This is because on-premises security protocols are designed to contain and protect your IT infrastructure and confidential information in an airtight box.

Your cloud-based remote team effectively takes the lid off that box, turning your organisation into an open and vulnerable platform with multiple points of access. To achieve on-premises security levels within your remote team you must of course utilise the right security tools. But you must also shift the on-premises focused mindset to one that considers remote security as equally important.

Security tools to safeguard your cloud-based remote workers

Security tools include desktop infrastructure, file system snapshots, remote data and activity monitoring, as well as remote device encryption and data wipes. And these are just some of the key procedures you can utilise to safeguard your cloud-based remote teams. What’s more, such mechanisms not only defend your company data, but they also give you more control over the IT resources used by your remote team.

There are several other resources and techniques you can use to further strengthen the protection of your remote workers. For example, you should utilise a single sign on service with multi-factor authentication (MFA). This can better protect company data stored in the Cloud and improve access management. In addition, VPNs, both desktop and mobile, can provide a further level of authentication whilst also encrypting network traffic and obscuring private details. This is a beneficial addition if your remote team needs to access your company network in public places.

The silver lining in the Cloud for your remote team

Cloud computing can be the perfect way for your business to transition from traditional on-premises to remote working. When implemented effectively and safely, it can do more than simply guide the great shift in work patterns we have discussed.

As a result of the pandemic, RemoteSec is the emerging digital security field that’s integral to the even bigger on-premises digital security field. And we believe given the growth of remote working it’s about to be thrust to the forefront of businesses and tested to an unprecedented degree.

If you’d like to know more about embracing remote working for your London-based business, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team. Simply give us a call for a confidential, no-obligation chat about your requirements.

We’re highly experienced in IT security solutions and with our Feefo Gold Trusted Service Awards, Five Star ratings from both Trustpilot and Google and 98% client retention rate, we’ve become the go to IT support team for London.