Many small businesses situated near Olympic venues in London and across the UK will be finalising their plans for the Olympic period.  At the infosecurity Virtual Conference, Stephen Bonner from KPMG explained the best-practice procedures for companies and employees who will be working from home.

Remote access via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is often regarded as the best method to securely connect with others working from home, enabling security protocols and encryption of data.  Yet Stephen warns of potential problems with VPN: “VPNs have often been scaled for a few people working from home, rather than scaled up for large parts of the organisation to work remotely at any one time.  It’s vital to test that the volume of connections will work over your network infrastructure, and ensure you have the right licences.”

And for those companies without a VPN, employees may wish to take work home by emailing themselves, using a USB or CD Rom, or carrying paper data.  “There’s going to be a lot of information travelling around and it’s critically important that organisations make sure their staff are trained to protect that information,” says Stephen.

Protection of data

In March 2012, KPMG and YouGov surveyed 1396 London adults about their plans for working from home.  They found that 32% were intending to print, email home or take information on a USB stick.  Stephen added “Rather surprisingly, we found that only 5% had been given training on how to report security incidents or data loss whilst working outside the office.”

“It’s very important to use appropriate encryption to protect electronic information when it’s being transported, particularly for those working with personal data of customers and clients.  At the end of the period of working from home, employees must make sure that it is destroyed securely or returned to the office environment in a safe way.”

When looking at taking paper data home, the KPMG/YouGov survey found that only 8% have been advised to dispose of paper info by shredding or returning to the office. Stephen commented “You can hardly encrypt paper so you need to make sure that when people are carrying it around, they lock it away and carry it safely.  And of course, don’t leave it on a train.”

Practice makes perfect

Stephen emphasised the importance of practicing your procedures for peak times for working from home.   “In a dry run, you need to make sure that all the things like patches and upgrades have been put in place well before the day.  It was surprising to find that only 7% of London working adults said that their organisation had done a dry run to be ready for working from home.”

Lastly, establishing a comprehensive process for employees working from home will leave your company with a legacy procedure that could be used for other instances where employees need to work from home, such as outbreaks of viruses like swine or bird flu, adverse weather conditions, or fuel and transport strikes.