Remote Working and Security Concerns for Small Business Owners

It wasn’t that long ago when the act of working from home or anywhere else outside the office could only involve things like completing paperwork, making phone calls, or reviewing and creating documents saved to your laptop’s hard drive. Today, though, businesses have a plethora of technology resources at their fingertips to make mobile working as easy and efficient as working in the office.

Remote Is Accessible

What’s more, remote working scenarios have even become accessible to small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) that previously ran into cost hurdles when trying to mobilize workers. According to a recent survey sponsored by Microsoft and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, more than half of SMB information workers say their company has a formal policy allowing employees to work remotely, a finding that indicates remote working is no longer simply a corporate perk for employees, but rather a business imperative for the company.

Money-Saving, Time-Saving

For today’s SMBs, success requires being able to do more with less, and remote-working programs have become ideal avenues for cost savings, greater efficiency and increased customer satisfaction because of heightened employee responsiveness. Even so, all of these benefits can quickly add up to nothing if proper security measures aren’t in place to safeguard data exchanged and used outside the office.

Social Networking Security Is Paramount

Because many small businesses have limited, if any, in-house IT staff, corporate security protocols often can be lax and not well informed. Take the risks involved with social networking sites, for example. When working remotely, 42 percent of information workers at SMBs reported that they use public social networking tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) to conduct business, yet these sites don’t offer security features stringent enough for all types of corporate networking.

Just think what could happen if a competitor caught wind of an upcoming product launch or promotion that two employees were discussing on Facebook; the consequences could be dire. Yet, less than one-third (29 percent) of SMB information workers report that their companies provide access to internal social networking tools that would provide an alternative venue for these types of exchanges.

Technology Is the Solution

Of course, this isn’t to say that SMBs should abandon the use of sites like Facebook and Twitter altogether. Rather, decision makers need to discern how employees are using public social networks and provide internal collaboration sites for interactions that involve sensitive business data. Small business technology solutions (one is Office 365) make it easy for SMBs to create internal venues for employee collaboration that can be accessed anywhere employees have an Internet connection, from nearly any device.

The new world of mobile working offers a host of benefits to SMBs, but to fully realize all of its advantages, a thorough appreciation of the latest security threats and measures for protection is essential.

Image credit: guillefoca

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Cindy Bates
Cindy Bates is the vice president of Microsoft's US SMB Organization where she is responsible for the company’s end-to-end SMB sales and marketing efforts, including SMB strategy, business development, regional field sales and national distribution sales, channel marketing and customer marketing. Cindy also contributes to her own blog as part of the Microsoft Business Resource Center.

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