More companies have been converting to a partial or full remote workforce to reduce overhead, recruit the best talent and stay productive during trying times.
While telecommuting has its benefits, there are also risks involved with employees accessing your information remotely. One of the biggest risks is that an employee will accidentally or purposefully install unauthorized software on devices connected to your network.
There are ways you can spot and discover this software as well as ways you can minimize these occurrences.
Use Asset Management Tools
Asset management tools come in a variety of types, and some platforms will offer comprehensive remote software management packages which include inventory tracking, mobile device management and software license management as well as others. With these tools, your IT department can monitor what software is on which company device, which devices are accessing the network and even who is using the device. If a problem arises, these tools can also allow techs to remotely diagnose and fix it, sometimes without needing physical access to the device at all.
Set Clear Policies and Procedures
To prevent unauthorized software on company devices, or workers to use personal devices for both home and work needs, clear policies and procedures need to be set. It is important that you train employees on these processes and have them sign that they understand the policies and the consequences for breaking them. This can help remote workers develop security conscious habits and prohibit a breech from their devices. It can also help educate employees about the risks associated with illegal software copies and running solutions without licenses.
Have a Dedicated Channel for Technical Issues
Some signs that a virus or malware has been installed include slower processing, computer accessories like a mouse or keyboard failing suddenly, or unexplained pop-ups ads appearing on the screen. New, approved, software may not show up after installation and your management tools sending an alert are also signs.
When you have a dedicated channel for remote workers to report technical issues, it can help your IT department fix the issue more quickly and can help you pinpoint which employees are having the most security issues when working from home.
Educate Employees on Security Risks
Not every downloaded software will be the fault of the employee but educating them on various security risks can help minimize the occurrence. Making sure that others in their household stay off work devices, keeping personal data and work data separate and even making sure that their internet connection is secure are all things remote workers can do to increase security.
Education on these risks should be ongoing as new phishing schemes and malware are developed continuously.
Run Routine Audits
Unauthorized software on company devices is not only a security risk for your data, it can also be a legal risk for your company. If your remote workers put an illegal copy of software on a device connected to your network, it can bring the Business Software Alliance to your door.
Many companies will pay for the licenses for necessary software on business devices as well as offer discounts for licenses on private ones to help minimize the risk of lawsuits associated with this practice, but conducting routine audits of all devices connected to the network is a good way to detect and resolve the issue before the BSA can file.
Discovering the software installed by remote workers on devices connected to your network can be as easy as finding the right tool set, setting solid policies and procedures and running routine audits of connected devices. It is also best practices to have a dedicated channel for remote work technical issues and to educate employees on the security and legal risks such software poses for them, the company and all the data involved. These things can help make telecommuting more safe and accessible for more employees.