5 IT considerations when deploying devices to remote workers

No matter what you new hire's role is, where they work, or what is included in their equipment benefits package, every new hire needs a device to work from.

Traditionally, when devices did not leave the office, IT teams only had to worry about protecting their network or the implications of a break-in. When even a few team members are remote, there are additional security, configuration and logistics challenges to factor, even before you have figured out how to safely get that device to a different city, country or continent.

Below, we run through 5 key IT considerations - from configuring basic security, to managing data with outgoing employees - when providing remote workers with devices.

Security policy 

Cybercrime is at an all time high. By Q3 2021, the number of publicly reported data breaches had already surpassed the total for 2020, and was just short of exceeding the record for a single year, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC).

IT security should therefore be top of every organisation’s priority list - especially remote or hybrid organisations. A remote workforce is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks than one office-based for a number of reasons:

  1. Increased reliance on digital information sharing -  with conversations and documents shared via non-business applications (such as WhatsApp, personal Dropbox), instead of by word of mouth or managed business tools. 
  2. Use of insecure networks - home networks can be compromised; and public spaces (libraries, coffee shops, co-working spaces etc.) often have limited security that is easy to infiltrate.
  3. Increased use of personal laptops and devices - 55% of employees claim to use their personal laptop or phone for work at least some of the time. Companies cannot impose the same security measures on personal devices as those they issue.

How to ensure a Zero-Trust approach for remote workers

To counter these challenges, put security measures in place before deploying devices. Recommended measures include:

  • Encrypted disk drives;
  • Device password policy;
  • Device firewall policy;
  • Endpoint protection software.

Installation of applications

Devices do not come ready out-of-the-box. It can take hours to install the suite of applications your organisation uses, especially for creative or engineering roles.

In an office, a new starter can be productive while applications install; they can meet colleagues, carry out paper-based admin, familiarise themselves with the office space etc. They also have the luxury of an in-person IT team if they encounter technical issues.

Leaving new remote hires to set up their laptops themselves is not an inefficient use of their first day and a poor onboarding experience. There is also increased risk of cyber criminals attacking third-party applications if they are installed over an insecure home broadband.

Pre-installing applications ensures a new hire can hit the ground running when they receive their device, and limits cybersecurity risk.

Learn more about Hofy's device pre-configuration service

Software updates

Software updates fix bugs, release new software features, and address security vulnerabilities - thus helping organisations avoid heavy losses due to downtime or security breaches. Technology research firm Gartner estimates that IT downtime costs organisations on average $5,600 per minute; the global average for a data breach is $4.24mil.

Guaranteeing that your remote employees will regularly update their software is another matter though. Ensuring you can deploy software updates over-the-air spares your IT team the task of nagging employees, and any of the risks associated with out-of-date software.

Loss or theft of devices

A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in the UK (Gartner). A lost laptop is a significant cybersecurity threat: 56% of IT professionals say lost or stolen work laptops have led to data breaches. 

To prevent external bodies from accessing sensitive data, implement a policy whereby devices can be locked or wiped remotely. Also, by utilising disk encryption, it is extremely unlikely that the data will fall into the wrong hands.

Outgoing employees

Unless you terminate outgoing employees’ access credentials when you terminate their contracts, they can still have access to potentially sensitive data. More than 80% of former employees retain access to at least one sensitive business system after they have left their role.

The ability to remotely wipe devices of data mitigates this risk.

Zero-touch deployment and device management, wherever you hire

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