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By The North West Cyber Resilience Centre

At the NWCRC we looked at the most common remote working environments and explored what risks you may face and have collated some of the ways you can ensure your employees stay secure when working remotely.

Co-Working Spaces and Shared Offices are the most secure option

What are the risks in a shared office?

  • In open-plan offices and workspaces, there is always a potential for people spying and snooping over your shoulder. Be wary if you're working with lots of personal or sensitive data, there could be someone sitting behind you.

  • When working remotely you don't have the luxury of being able to leave your belongings on your desk in the same way as you would at home or in your office. If you leave a laptop/phone/tablet unlocked and unattended you're running the risk of someone having unauthorized access.

  • So many businesses have empowered hybrid staff by giving them access to shared offices, but this doesn't come without distractions. Whilst having networking mornings, workshops and after-work drinks all sound great! You might become distracted from your work and let your guard down.

  • Don't allow yourself to acquire bad habits from anyone around you who isn't trained in cyber security, remember the security training that your employer has given you!

  • Even with all the guidance, we can give you, working remotely means that security is still your responsibility as a business owner. Make sure your staff are comfortable with the basics and know to flag anything if it doesn't look right.

Why is a co-working space a secure place to work from?

  • Top of the list in shared working spaces is that you have access to secure and private meeting rooms and workspaces. This allows you to work in the knowledge that nobody is looking over your shoulder and you can secure your devices should you need to move around the building or nip out for lunch. 

  • Many co-working spaces have lockers, keycard security and a manned reception. You can communicate with workspace staff if you're unsure or need clarification on anything to do with security or how to connect to the secure wi-fi network.

  • If you're a boss allowing remote staff to utilise shared office space, ensure communication channels with employees are open. You want them to continue to check in with managers or your own IT team to ensure devices stay updated and documents are secure. 

  • Don't forget to reaffirm key security guidance periodically with staff through emails, online documentation and in-person training.

  • Ensure all employees are aware of your companies Security policies; i.e Remote Working Policy or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy

  • Whilst we urge caution on using unsecured public wi-fi networks, many co-working spaces will offer tenants access to Encrypted public wi-fi networks. Talk to reception to find out how you can log into this encrypted wi-fi network on all your devices.

Many of us work a couple of hours in the local cafe, but are they secure?

What are the risks when working from a cafe?

  • In a cafe, there is always a potential for people spying and snooping over your shoulder, not to mention the many distractions of a busy afternoon lunch period. Be wary if you're working with lots of personal or sensitive data, there could be someone sitting behind you. Don't leave any devices unlocked or unattended, you're running the risk of someone having unauthorized access to your website and data.

  • You may be unaware that an innocent trip to your local cafe may have threats lurking in the background of their public Wi-Fi network. Public wi-fi is common in most locations when working remotely, we all frequently connect to them to check our emails or social media without thinking twice. Whilst your local cafe owner may believe they’re providing free wi-fi to try and keep you in-store to buy that extra slice of cake, chances are it's an insecure public wi-fi network.

  • When working from a cafe you don't have the luxury of being able to leave your belongings on your desk when you go to grab another drink or slice of cake in the same way as you would at home or in your office. If you leave a laptop/phone/tablet unlocked or unattended you're running the risk of someone having unauthorized access or robbing you of your devices (and data).

How can you stay secure when working in a cafe?

  • For staff who are often working remotely and on the go, we'd suggest investing in a privacy filter/screen on your device. Although they cost as much as £20 - £30, a privacy screen protector can keep private and sensitive information on your screen to yourself only. Onlookers cannot peep into your phone and observe what you're doing.

  • Don’t leave devices unlocked or unattended when moving away from your table, take your devices with you or consider waiting until you've finished purchasing that second coffee or slice of cake.

  • VPNs are encrypted network connections, that allow remote employees to securely access your company's services. Using a VPN or Mobile hotspot when working in a cafe is one way to guarantee the security of 'data in transit' across an untrusted network, employees can use VPNs to access their corporate email inboxes and file storage area.

Read the full list on our website.

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