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Remote working brings risk of firewall breaches.

Sonicwall : 05 June, 2007  (Technical Article)
In the wake of “work at home week", SonicWall warns of the need to protect mobile workers against the risk of their computers being compromised through lack of adequate firewall protection.
It is suggested that businesses that have minimal in-house IT support find a third party provider, such as Dell Enterprise Business Solutions to keep their systems constantly updated and have a team actively scanning for vulnerabilities.

Home and mobile workers run a greater risk from viruses and other forms of malware when their networks are not secured in the same manner as the office network. Home Security settings are not always as robust as those at the office and when out of the office, complacency among workers can often set in.

A recent survey conducted by SonicWALL looked at remote workers and their habits. The findings were staggering with security coming in very low on their list of priorities. 88% admitted to storing passwords in easily-discovered locations and 56% said they rely on their memories to keep track of their network passwords. Others used the same passwords for all devices, stored the information on cell phones, or stuck notes with the login information onto their computer (4%). Only 12% employed encrypted files to store and manage their login data.

On a lighter note, the survey also showed that 76% of employees believe that working remotely is an aid to productivity and 61% are convinced that their managers agree. Something that their managers may not agree with is that 39% of respondents admitted to working in their dressing gowns, 28% watched TV, 21% took a sneaky nap and an amazing 12% of males and 7% of females owned up to working in the nude.

Keith Bird, Managing Director of SonicWALL UK said, "Having a mobile workforce is a necessity for many businesses - and enabling flexibility for staff is a fantastic way to allow employees to contribute wherever their location. One problem that often occurs is that home workers tend to operate behind inferior firewalls compared to those used in the office. This can often lead to a weak link in the security network, which in turn can lead to unwanted malware and hacking."

One highly effective solution is to invest in a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN enables two computers to send encrypted data over the internet, securely, without fear that they might be intercepted, stolen or infected.

Bird continues, "In the past VPNs have been seen as an ideal but difficult to use solution to the mobile computing problem. However technology has matured and modern solutions are now easy to install and maintain. Even for a small business the VPN solution is achievable. The latest appliances are almost "plug-and-play" and can be managed without dedicated IT staff."

If your company was unlucky enough to receive an infection or data loss as a result of your mobile workforce, the answer is not to deny access to the network from outside the office walls. Instead implement the right solution to enable your staff to have the freedom to work from wherever they need to in order to do their jobs securely, even if they are doing it naked.
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