As businesses rapidly shift to a remote working model, is an IT security disaster inevitable?

This article was originally published on channelweb.co.uk

Trevor Evans, MD at Consenna, argues that SMBs need to pay even greater attention to the security of their IT assets as huge numbers of staff shift to remote working on a permanent basis 

Debates around the pros and cons of allowing your workforce to work from home (WFH), although far from new,  were completely thrown out of the window overnight in March when the UK government advised that everyone who could work from home, should do so.  Estimates suggest that at one point, 96% of previously office-based employees were working from home.  The success with which businesses managed this varied greatly.  This was especially evident amongst the owners of small and medium sized businesses (SMB) and has led to a much closer examination of how running businesses from home, as distinct from simple home working, is likely to become a long- term situation. 

Whilst the benefits are well known, including lower office costs, enhanced work/life balance and increased productivity, SMB owners and leaders cannot fail to ignore that a single office location containing 10, 15, 20 or more computers is one thing, but shifting from that to a scenario where all staff are in their own ‘office’ is quite different.  10 ‘offices’ each with a computer is an infinitely bigger challenge than one office with 10 computers.  Overnight, management of your asset register and rapid device replacement, whilst securing precious data, has become far more complex.

Management and oversight of routine IT security such as phishing attacks and the safe use of company IT resources for personal use are one thing, but with a longevity anticipated around a working from home model, what happens when a business needs to upgrade its IT provision?

All too often, concerns around data security have meant redundant devices are left to gather dust in an office corner.  This is far from ideal but does at least afford a level of reassurance that their location is known.  What happens though when all those devices are located at multiple sites? Potentially dozens of different sites? What about their remaining balance sheet value?

Ross Toner is Managing Director of Business iT Specialists Ltd, a company providing managed IT support services to a wide range of small and medium sized organisations across the UK.  He recommends HP’s Secure Trade In scheme, commenting:

“We work with small businesses as an alternative to the expense of investing in an in-house IT support team.  As part of this, we’re often asked to support system upgrades and the safe and secure disposal of old devices.

“HP’s Secure Trade-In programme is a means by which small and medium-sized businesses can manage IT upgrades in an entirely secure way and receive cash for their older devices.  The whole programme is managed by a carefully chosen partner who handles everything from packaging up the older devices; their removal and transportation to a secure centre; CESG-compliant data wiping and all aspects of reporting and tracking throughout.  As we move to an increasingly remote workforce, the benefit of this scheme is that it can be managed across multiple locations.  It is the answer to many questions we are posed from SMBs.”

This approach has not gone unnoticed by small business champion, Baroness Karren Brady, who served as the Government’s Small Business Ambassador under David Cameron.  She comments:

“SMB owners are defined by their ambition and fast-paced approach to growing their business.  They can often also be risk takers which provides them with the competitive advantage to enjoy success.  Risk taking can’t, however, feature in their management of a remote workforce and their use of technology.  HP’s Secure Trade In scheme provides business owners with an unmatched level of assurance their redundant IT devices are not only disposed of responsibly, but audited, wiped and any residual value is returned. It’s a no brainer.”

As ambitious business owners and leaders continue in their quest for every competitive edge, they now also need to consider where their employees may best function.  HP’s Secure Trade In provides enhanced IT security, access to the very latest technology and maximises existing asset value, irrespective of employee location.