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Home workers open door to risky business

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New Zealand companies looking to reap productivity benefits by allowing employees to work from home are putting their business in jeopardy if they do not address the added security risks of an increasingly mobile workforce, leading anti-virus and Internet security software distributor AVG has warned.

The rollout of the fibre and rapid uptake of powerful mobile computers, tablets and smartphones is set to drive growth in the number of teleworkers and non-office based workers.

"Advances in technology will make it easier for people to work from home. On the flip-side, it will also make it easier for company networks to be hacked and valuable information to be lost or stolen if businesses do not put the right protection measures in place for newly mobile workers," said Lloyd Borrett, <a href="">Security Evangelist</a> at AVG (AU/NZ).

Mobile devices and home-based connections can significantly boost employee productivity when used conscientiously. Teleworking can increase output, reduce sick days and lower costs, by allowing businesses to operate from smaller premises and help retain skilled staff by fostering trust and loyalty.

Home-based workers in a US survey� said they would rather give up their favourite TV show (54%), an extra hour of sleep (48%), swear off a favourite food (40%) or take a pay cut (40%) than stop telecommuting.

Yet all the benefits of teleworking will be lost if fundamental security issues are not addressed. In the US survey, more than two-thirds of telecommuters said they didn't receive IT security training in preparation for home office work. One in three never backed up their data.

"An external data connection will always represent additional security risk, especially if mission-critical business data is being transmitted," Borrett said.

"The changing mobile worker landscape has created a constant need to define and measure the parameters within which these new worker types operate and implement back up and security measures that protect them.

"Mobile workers now exist in many forms. In addition to home-based employees, remote connections to company data may extend to field staff, partner companies sharing data links with the business, freelancers, consultants and contractors.

"These workers are very often mobile, semi-permanent, occasionally 'hot desking' or completely reliant upon an Internet connection to work with or for the company. They work on a range of potentially unsecured devices to connect in numerous ways including through email, Instant Messaging services and video conferencing services from Skype to Google+ to Facebook and Microsoft Live Messenger.

"This set-up poses a security risk and needs to form part of an IT security policy, no matter how basic, a company decides to follow," Borrett said.

Traditional desktop and network security solutions need to be coupled with mobile protection offerings such as <a href="">AVG Mobilation</a> security software for Android smartphones and tablet computers. It's built to ensure employees stay safe at home or on the move while connected back to the business, even using insecure Wi-Fi.

"Under a robust and up-to-date Internet security umbrella, companies of all sizes should be able to reap rewards by empowering their workforce with mobility and flexibility to work from home or other locations - while protecting their business information and networks," Borrett concluded.

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