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  • Writer's pictureRick Woolsey

IT Security Checklist: COVID-19 - What to consider when using personal computers

As many of us have learned as an impact of COVID-19, our world has had to change quickly from an IT perspective to allow for our businesses to continue to run. This has resulted in our teams, our customers and our government having to pivot to a work from home scenario to keep us all safe.

Temporary remote working arrangements and setups were quickly put into place to allow people to work from home as the stay at home measures kicked in.  For some of our customers, those temporary arrangements have necessitated allowing staff to use their personal computers as either they could not come into the office to get their machines due to quarantine after being out of the country, or they used desktops and could not haul those home.

Initially, we thought that this would be temporary, but knowing now that we have several more weeks of this, our temporary setups and measures are not so temporary any longer.  If you, like some of our customers had to scramble to set up work from home scenarios but you haven’t had a chance to consider the security of your business data, then here is a quick checklist to go through with your team to make sure your data is safe.

  • Operating System Updates and versions:  Have the latest software and operating system updates been run on the machine? If the machine is Windows-based, then is it on Windows 10 as a minimum? (reminder that Windows 7 is now out of support and no longer being updated by Microsoft). If the machine is a Mac running MacOS X, then you should be on the Yosemite release as a minimum and ensure that all the latest updates are installed.

  • Antivirus:  Is there an proactive antivirus (preferably managed) on the machine and is it up to date?

  • User Controls:  If this is a personal machine, it’s possible that there are family members also using the system. Have basic user controls been set up such as a separate user account for you to use for business use to ensure that the family cannot access your business data?

  • Password Security:  Consider setting a login password for your home workstation to ensure access is controlled while using that machine for remote work purposes, requiring strong passwords for all business applications, enable two factor authentication where possible and perhaps not saving web application access passwords on the machine via the internet browser.

  • VPN:  If your team is accessing business data from home that is behind your office firewalls, make sure they are going through a secure SSL encrypted Virtual Private Network connection (VPN). Beyond this, make sure that if your team is using free Wi-Fi, that they have a personal VPN that they can turn on to enhance data security (not that we are going to be working from coffee shops soon – but this is key for working from unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots, coffee shops or hotels).

COVID-19 is changing the way we work, both temporarily while we are all self-isolating, as well as once this current pandemic is past.  Being able to leverage technology solutions to allow flexible and secure remote working scenarios for your staff will continue to be a staff working requirement and business continuity requirement into the future.   If you are not sure how to support your team in this new world, let us know - we can help guide you to ensure your business and data are secure.

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