Keep Your Business Secure As Employees Return To The Office

After nearly three months of nationwide Covid-19 lockdowns, states across the country have reopened cautiously.  Barbershops, restaurants, and other everyday establishments have welcomed back employees and customers with a greater emphasis on public health, safety, and security.

Many offices throughout the United States have also reopened fully or partially, bringing scores of employees back to their places of business. But as businesses being to shift to their new normal, users are returning to work with a number of devices and technologies used to help them work remotely.

What, exactly, will they be bringing with them? Many were forced to use personal devices to manage remote workflows, which may or may not be fully compliant with your office’s technology and security standards. Others may have taken company computers that had hardly ever, or maybe never left the safety of your office environment. (Your office is secure, right?)

Before these devices are introduced back into your work environment, it’s important to scan any and all devices before welcomed back onto your network. Companies may find that personal laptops, USB drives, and even business-owned laptops were not well-protected away from a corporate firewall and server-based antivirus and anti-malware systems.

As employees begin to return to real-world offices, here are some important tips to help manage security concerns:

Take a phased approach.

Your business may be eager to have employees return to the office, but rushing to reconnect all remote employees on-site can overwhelm IT departments small and large. Allow returning employees to bring in their devices in phases with specific dates will ensure that IT staff can thoroughly assess each individual’s devices in a managed, orderly process.

Determine how to handle home laptops and personal devices coming into the office.

Even though personal laptops can run secure web-based software, connecting a device to your network can introduce malware and other dangerous security risks. When possible, allow employees to return to corporate-issued devices, and if personal devices must be connected to your network, be sure to thoroughly scan and assess them for potential vulnerabilities. (Ideally, any business info on a personal device should instead be transferred to company-owned equipment.)

Disallow USB and personal storage devices on corporate networks.

External hard drives, thumb drives, and other USB devices may have been a convenient and necessary evil for work-from-home arrangements, but personal storage devices can contain malware, viruses, and other types of dangerous software. Encourage employees to transfer crucial data from personal storage devices to other secure options, such as cloud storage, and do not allow unrecognizable USB devices to be plugged into business-owned laptops or workstations.

Inventory and scan all devices and storage devices coming into the office.

From webcams to Bluetooth keyboards, a whole host of other devices that may or may not be owned by your company may be returning to desks around the office. Track down, assess, and inventory new and returning equipment to your company’s network to ensure it’s safe to use.

Check for current antivirus signatures, software updates, and firewall rules.

While connected to home networks, personal and business devices may not have been receiving up-to-date security updates, and security settings such as IP whitelists may have been relaxed to accommodate the abrupt workplace shift. Ensure that returning devices are running the latest software, virus definitions, and firewall settings to maintain a safe and secure network.

Run endpoint detection.

Proactive endpoint monitoring is also recommended to help detect and respond to malicious activity while in its infancy. It’s important to run scans on all returning devices not utilizing corporate security software protection during remote working time. Endpoint devices are often the focus of cybercriminals so it is very important that IT teams conduct endpoint scans of all corporate and personal employee devices that will be brought back on to the corporate network.

Require password changes.

In the event an employee was the victim of a phishing scam, mandate password changes for all devices and access to company networks. Be sure to reset credentials and utilize best practices when setting up multifactor authentication for access to critical systems, applications, and data.

Device Encryption.

Ensure returning devices are configured with full disk encryption (especially new devices) to protect company data.

DWD Technology Group is here to help businesses with employees returning to the office.  We can help ensure that company networks and devices can withstand potential threats and allow employees to return to work comfortably.  Schedule a consultation today to discuss any security concerns you have with returning employees.