In these days of frequent business travel, working from home, and outsourcing work to independent contractors, you probably have some sort of remote access to your business networks. If your network is not properly secured and you do not implement appropriate remote access controls, you could discover that you have left the back door to your business open and allowed the wrong people to walk in. Remote network access can be a wonderful thing. No matter where you are, you can log onto your network and access all the information stored there.
It gives a great sense of freedom to know that by installing some remote access software and having access to the internet, you can manage your business at any time from any place. Remote network access also gives you the freedom to provide telecommuters and independent contractors access to your business information, enabling them to work for you from a remote location. Doing this is probably both efficient and economical for your business.
Stop for a moment, and think about the number of people who have remote access to your network: • Employees using laptops and other devices when traveling • Employees using home computers • People in branch offices or retail locations • Sales representatives • Telecommuting employees • Independent contractors to whom you outsource work • Suppliers or vendors • Business partners • Customers or clients To be sure, you almost certainly grant some groups of people only limited access to your network or access to only certain data. But, let’s face it, you could be opening hundreds or even thousands of doors to your business. Now consider that many of your most valuable company assets are probably stored on your network: • Product information • Legal and financial information • Competitive analysis • Customer profiles and sales history • Research and development data • Employee data Inadequate remote access security can leave your business and the personal information of hundreds of individuals and companies at risk.
Every person who has remote access to your network has the ability to open the door to your business using some device. Whether that device is a home computer accessing your network through a phone line, cable or DSL, the device can be used to open a door. If you don’t know how secure the device and the connection are, you are essentially leaving that door to your business unlocked. Once you leave a door unlocked, you no longer have control of who walks in or of what they can see or take without adequate security.
Consider the possibilities: • An employee’s child downloads a game to her home computer without realizing spyware has also been installed. When your employee downloads a file on your new product to that same home computer, your competitive advantage could be gone. • You, the chief executive of your company, often work from home early in the morning. To save time, you tell your computer to “remember” your log-on and password. Your house is robbed and your home computer is stolen. The thief has full access to both your personal information and your business.
• The head of R&D for your company regularly takes a company laptop home in order to work on weekends. Without his knowledge, his son has downloaded a game, complete with a worm. When the head of R&D logs on to work, he introduces the worm and all those critical research files disappear.
How do you protect your business? You protect your business by closing and locking all of the doors. You establish policies and procedures about use of company equipment and about remote access to files. You build security for your network, and you build additional security for sensitive data. You restrict access by employees to certain websites from company equipment, and you prohibit placement of cookies and spyware on your system or your equipment.
Then you layer the protection provided by your security system. Finally, you engage IT people to constantly monitor and update the security of your network. The bottom line is this: Remote Access can open a back door to your network, putting your business at risk.
You can, however, give people remote access to business data they need, and, at the same time, protect your business and your business data. Copyright (c) 2007 Thomas Burns.
Thomas Burns, founder and CEO of Intelligent Networks Services (INS) has been an industry expert in computer network and technology for over 20 years. Under his careful supervision, INS has become a leading, full service IT support company servicing small to mid-sized businesses in Silicon Valley. INS’s goal is to save their client’s money by focusing on preventative maintenance and intelligent network designs. For more information go to: http://www.intelligentns.com/subscribe and receive your complimentary network evaluation.