Firms ‘should upgrade data protection policies’ if allowing remote working

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All devices brought in by staff should be treated as hostile.

Companies that are gearing up for the London Olympics by allowing staff to work remotely might wish to review their data protection settings.

Clive Taylor, founding director of Sesai Consulting Limited, noted that employees are increasingly working on their own personal devices, meaning firms have little control over the data stored on such units.

He advised businesses to give themselves maximum protection by assuming that every non-company device is hostile.

"Put security into the application, encrypt data within the application and encrypt data transferred to [and] from the company backend. Web-based mail keeps email data on the company servers. [Companies should] provide encrypted USB memory sticks to store Office documents," he explained.

As well as expanding their disaster recovery plans, firms also need to work on their malware and virus defence strategies.

"Data is transferred via company-supplied USB memory sticks, email or SharePoint installations. When the USB stick is attached to a company machine, it is scanned for viruses. Email is scanned when it hits the gateway and documents added to SharePoint are scanned on upload," Mr Taylor said.

Meanwhile, companies whose employees already work outside the office might be inclined to invest in cloud computing services so that their remote workers can access shared files and applications.

Dr Graeme Codrington, futurist at Tomorrowtoday.uk.com, commented that homeworkers will benefit from any technology that allows more flexibility, mobility and virtual connection.

"Improved bandwidth will allow for the increasing use of video connections – on the VoIP (Voice over IP) backbone – and this will be quite significant," he posited.

Dr Codrington added that translation software and instant messaging technology will also help remote workers keep in contact with their colleagues and allow them to work from anywhere in the world.

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