Modern IT infrastructure needs to support a mobile workforce. Staff need the option of working remotely, especially in the professional services sectors such as law firms, financial services companies and consultancy firms.
Increasingly, in many companies, employees need to work remotely on a regular basis, whether they’re visiting clients, working out of different premises or interacting with other organisations. This often entails having access to systems, networks, files and documents, to enable them to work productivity. When these are not accessible, productivity can be affected and it can also result in staff resorting to unsecure practices such as downloading confidential files onto their own devices.
Regulatory burdens require firms to take every reasonable effort to ensure confidential materials are accessed securely. Therefore if your organisation wants to garner the productivity benefits remote working offers, it is essential that staff are provided with the tools to work without compromising compliance regulations and data security.
Remote working risks
Public Wi-Fi, even in buildings such as police authorities and courthouses, isn’t as secure as we like to think. There is a risk that a hacker could access employees’ devices when using public Wi-Fi, whether in a café, hotel or magistrates court. Moreover, if a device is lost or stolen, confidential information (such as a file or document that has been downloaded onto the device) is at risk.
Since GDPR came into force, regulators are keeping an even closer eye on the steps professional service firms take to protect customer details and sensitive documents. Now is not the time to take shortcuts, and yet, thanks often to legacy IT infrastructure, staff and partners may be tempted to work around compliance regulations to get work done.
If legacy IT infrastructure prevents secure access to documents, busy employees aren't going to wait for an upgrade: they may be prepared to take the risk and download something to a personal smartphone or laptop to ensure they can do the work they're getting paid for. More training and awareness raising exercises won’t reduce the risks. Only an overall of the existing processes and procedures used to access IT systems, files and documents can solve this problem.
Supporting secure remote working
As well as putting your firm at risk of non-compliance with regulators, shortcuts also put you at risk of documents ending up in the wrong hands, including cybercriminals who could publish them online or blackmail you to prevent that.
No one wants to be at the centre of a new Panama Papers scandal.
Nor does any financial or professional services firm want to receive a new, larger fine from the ICO for breaking data protection laws. Safety and security is paramount when enabling secure remote working.
Setting up secure remote working processes can include numerous features. From an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) to identity and access control, to two-factor authentication when logging in to email and other systems, companies can establish as many safeguards as necessary to stay compliant and reduce risk.
The benefits of a secure remote working systems include:
- Regulatory compliance – with the right controls in place your organisation no longer runs the risk of falling foul of the regulators, or the fines that can be incurred if a data breach is detected;
- Improved productivity - staff can access what they need, when they want, wherever they are, with the most up-to-date documents they are using only a few secure clicks away;
- Better collaboration – with the right systems it becomes easier for staff, consultants or other third-parties to work remotely and collaborate on projects;
- Avoids duplication – employees can access the most up-to-date version of files and systems and update them remotely too. This avoids unnecessary duplication and multiple versions stored on employees’ personal devices.
Migrating your IT infrastructure to the cloud is the solutions that we advocate to enable secure remote working. This doesn’t have to involve a complete digital transition; some companies and organisations are able to support a hybrid solution with some on-premise systems and other systems in the cloud.
Companies operating in regulated industries can also migrate their IT to the cloud with confidence. It is secure and regulatory bodies are supportive of cloud platforms provided all reasonable steps are taken to protect personal and sensitive data.
If you would like to explore ways to support your employees that need to work remotely and what cloud platforms can enable you to achieve this, please get in touch. You may also like to read our blog post on cloud platforms in regulated industries.
You can also download our 'Enterprise Cloud Strategy' whitepaper for further information on the link below.