A few months (yes, MONTHS) ago, we discussed going remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning we expected remote work to be short-lived… maybe a couple of weeks at the most. Well, here we are, several months into it, and many of us are still in a Work From Home (WFH) or Work From Anywhere (WFA) situation.
Like it or not, remote work is here to stay. While you and/or your staff can be just as productive working remotely as you were within the walls of your office, there are still a few things to consider. One of the biggest concerns for any business adopting remote work is a topic near and dear to our hearts: Security.
What’s a “Virtual Office”?
For most people, the term “virtual office” simply means someone sitting at home doing all their work online. That’s a pretty accurate description, but it’s also a gross oversimplification of what’s actually happening, or what SHOULD be happening.
A true virtual office allows an employee to “go to work” without actually “going” to work – that is, without stepping foot into an actual office or building. Company software and data is available to them via a secure login to your system, ideally using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). Once logged in, your employee can do their job just like they would if they were physically in your office. This means they can access every software package they have permissions for, up to and including accounting software.
You’ve probably already made the leap to my next point, but hold on just a second.
Is it Safe?
If you want to do business remotely, a virtual office is one of the safest ways to do so. Why? Well, it begins with the equipment your staff uses. The computers your employees use are simply tools used to access company software – hacking a machine won’t net a cybercriminal much information. There is nothing on the hard drive that belongs to your company, and access is controlled via employee login.
The connection between and computer and a server is typically where hackers seek to gain entry into a company’s data. This surveillance usually happens in an insecure environment, such as an open WiFi network.
In a virtual office, however, you’re in a secure environment – essentially a virtual building in which you conduct your business. Once you sign out of your virtual office, it’s the equivalent of leaving the building, getting into your car, and going home at the end of the day.
Isn’t this just a VPN?
Not quite. There are some similarities between VPNs and virtual offices, but there are also some important differences. A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, works by encrypting the connection between the user and the system or website they are accessing.
As helpful as it is to use a VPN, the virtual office provides additional data security. In a virtual office, opening an infected email does not place any of your company data in danger. The only way to access company files, passwords, or any other data is to have the credentials to enter the entire system.
When set up properly, access to a virtual office requires more than a login/password combination. You can further thwart cybercriminals from accessing company data by requiring multi-factor authentication on top of login credentials. Ideally, your MSP should be monitoring logins and authentication as well as making sure your data is protected through encryption and backups. Additionally, your MSP should have an ongoing process of security assessments that keep up with ever-changing threats.
Assessing Virtual Office Security
Of course, nothing is 100% impenetrable. Any system has the potential for a breach. Proper backups and disaster recovery plans are critical if you want to recover from a data disaster. Protect your servers as well as your end-user devices and applications.
As you might expect, there are best practices to follow when it comes to implementing and maintaining a virtual office. Following these will establish the quality and sustainability of your system over the long term. But setting up a virtual office can be complicated, and it’s in your company’s best interest to work with a provider that has extensive experience in this area.
Lieberman Technologies has been working with virtual offices for many years, and we stay on top of current trends in cybersecurity. We can help your business to adapt to remote work as it continues to evolve. We will go over your specific needs and help develop a solution that will make your virtual office a secure workplace.
A great way to take that first step is to engage with us for a no obligation, two-step process:
- Our technical team will conduct a security-focused network assessment to identify any technical gaps in your current setup
- Our solutions consultants will work with your team to get an understanding of how various members of your organization use your technology, finding not only items that may be of concern from a security standpoint, but also uncovering inefficiencies or other technical pains that may be hindering the growth and profitability of your company.
Afterward, we can provide an executive summary of those findings to your leadership team, with recommendations to help you make the most out of your virtual, physical, or hybrid office.
Contact us today!