Remote Access Risks – Protecting your data outside of the office

Internet cafes, hotel rooms and airports can all be convenient places to catch up with work tasks. But how safe is your data when you access your office systems, email or financial accounts from a public place?  Well, in the age of tablets, laptops, and smart phones, the answer is complex—however, knowing these few facts can help keep your data safe.

Just like home burglary, Internet theft is most often conducted by opportunists. Online thieves are on the prowl for passwords and other information that can give them direct access to your confidential information, as well as your money!

Be your own security guard by following these three steps when you connect publicly with your laptop, tablet or phone:

1.) Check that the network requires a password and shows a lock icon next to its name, indicating it utilizes encryption. Without this, others can easily steal what you send and receive.  Alternately, if you do connect to an unencrypted network, make sure the accounts you access have encrypted login (authentication), and encrypt any sensitive data that you might exchange (the web address will start with https).

2.) Confirm that you have the latest security updates installed for your computer’s operating system, as well as for any applications. Cyber-criminals are clever, and OS and app updates help counter their latest tricks.

3.) Always utilize a system firewall or similar application, PLUS a full-featured Internet security software suite that includes traffic filtering, intrusion prevention, and anti-virus capabilities.  This will not only protect you in public places, but at home or in the office as well.

Besides policing your own devices, it’s also wise to be very wary of computers that are offered as a customer service in hotels, lounges, libraries and Internet cafes.  You put yourself at risk whenever you use these machines to access sensitive accounts or information, including email, because the browser cache could be configured to store your login credentials. You can’t know that an open-access machine doesn’t have malicious software installed to burgle passwords and information, so sit down at any public computer with extreme caution!

Finally, a special word of advice to business owners since employees now commonly work out of the office on a variety of personal use devices … Take the time to get assurance that remote access to your systems and data is properly configured to provide optimal security. Workplace servers that are left open to the Internet are easily compromised, with potentially disastrous results. Consult with professionals to minimize your system vulnerabilities and invest in mounting your best defense to protect your valuable information and financial assets.

Network Management Solutions is a proven service provider that enhances the security, manageability of IT systems for small businesses, while reducing costs.

For more information about our range of services, and helpful tools for evaluating your IT security, visit us at

Bring Your Own Device – App Crazy

Information loss happens in a variety of ways.

This can be through cyber theft, unintentional action exposing sensitive data, loss of a device, and a host of other ways.  Many organizations find it hard to consider that there is sensitive information within the company that is of value to others and beyond that perhaps targeted by outsiders and or insiders.

Since the organization rarely considers its “information assets” there is no strategy in place to monitor and mange the exchange of company information.  Not until such time that there is a crisis do many organizations stop and think, “how did this happen”?

The growing acceptance of a “bring your own device to work” is increasing organizational susceptibility to information loss.  iPads, iPhones, Androids, all are welcome.   Compounding the issue is allowing the end user of the device to install whatever apps they might choose.  All apps are not created the same nor appear to be what they are at all times.

Malicious applications, improperly coded apps that contain vulnerabilities, and applications granted permissions on install to sensitive data stores by unknowable users, are all considerable avenues for data loss.

When data losses occur how does the organization know?  If a personal device is lost that contains sensitive information, how is the organization notified?  Are they?  How is the data secured, retrieved, or wiped?

Its too late when business owners face ex-employess who become competitors, or sensitive communications wind up in the hands of competitors, or data losses lead to legal and or PR nightmares.

Clearly any organization that moves forward with BYOD or any mobile strategy without a clear cut plan that is supported by the necessary tools, process and procedures is broadening its potential for data loss.

Bring your own device to work, install your own apps, that’s crazy!



Failed Security of Smartphones in the Workplace

Smartphones have become prevalent in the workplace both as personal use and business devices. These two functions are distinctly different uses, or should be, and we need to remember that. While I am not advocating that companies establish policies against workers bringing personal use devices into the workplace, many businesses have embraced this, I am strongly suggesting that personal use devices remain just that, personal use devices.

Many companies have stepped across the line and permit personal use devices to become part of the company network. In doing so company information is transmitted and stored on personal devices.  The risks in allowing personal use devices for company business are numerous and potential negative consequences abound  with respect to company communications, intellectual property, regulatory or legal matters, and otherwise.

It is critical that sound information assurance principles are applied to mobile devices and mobile workforce solutions.  It is critical that the organization be able to protect and retrieve its information assets in the case of a lost cell phone, rogue employee, employee termination or otherwise.

While the App Stores for IPhones, Androids, and Blackberrys may seem harmless they pose significant risk to information that is stored and transmitted including sensitive business communications and assets. With personal use devices the owner controls the security, installed application and the permissions to locally stored data including address books, files, email, text messages, and other data.  Additional concerns exist in what application might be vulnerable to hack attacks.

Keep your company data safe, establish the polices understanding what is at risk, and own the device.  For more information contact Network Management Solutions.  Remote managed services, information assurance, systems integration.