Leading anti-virus and Internet security software distributor AVG (AU/NZ) Pty Ltd has warned that telecommuting by workers poses a high level of risk to companies who have not addressed the issue of data security.
Australian companies looking to reap productivity benefits are increasingly allowing employees to work from home. In Australia, about one in four employees spends at least part of their working week on the job at home.
The rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and rapid uptake of powerful mobile computers, tablets and smartphones are expected to drive growth in the number of teleworkers and non-office based workers.
Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ), Lloyd Borrett comments that there is a flip-side to the NBN, which will make it easier for company networks to be hacked into and valuable information to be lost or stolen in the absence of appropriate data protection measures for newly mobile workers.
Teleworking offers several advantages to businesses in the current economy including increased output, reduced sick days, skilled employee retention and lower overheads from operating at smaller premises.
But all these benefits will be lost if fundamental security issues are not addressed. Most telecommuters do not receive IT security training in preparation for home office work while data back-up is also not consistently implemented.
Borrett remarks that an external data connection will always represent additional security risk, especially if mission-critical business data is being transmitted, adding that 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.
The mobile workforce base using remote connections to company data has expanded to include home-based employees, field staff, partner companies sharing data links with the business, freelancers, consultants and contractors.
Borrett explains that these workers use a range of potentially unsecured devices to connect in numerous ways including email, Instant Messaging services and video conferencing services from Skype and Google+ to Facebook and Microsoft Live Messenger. The resultant security risk requires each business to have a firm IT security policy in place to prevent potential data breaches.
For instance, traditional desktop and network security solutions need to be coupled with mobile protection offerings such as AVG Mobilation security software for Android smartphones and tablet computers.
AVG Mobilation security software is built to ensure employees stay safe at home or on the move while connected back to the business, even on unsecure Wi-Fi connections.
Borrett concludes by saying that a robust and up-to-date Internet security umbrella will enable companies of all sizes to empower their workforce with mobility and flexibility to work from home or other locations while protecting their business information and networks.
AVG has also created a set of AVG Small Business Security Guides, which provide simple but effective steps that small business owners can take to secure their business.