4 Ways to Keep Your Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO) Data Secure
Many businesses today have several office locations, often made up of a combination of remote and branch office locations, or otherwise known as ROBO. Data from these multiple locations is constantly being generated, stored, backed up and accessed by various staff members.
Unfortunately, this type of business infrastructure can put companies at risk when it comes to maintaining the security of their data. And, since remote and branch offices don’t usually have on-site IT staff, this is usually managed remotely as well, which means on-site data protection is minimal.
One of the biggest IT challenges facing businesses today according to Rich Hillebrecht, Chief Information Officer at Riverbed, is that, “Remote and branch locations are where so much of business is transacted, so the way that we manage assets and resources located away from the close control of headquarters has to be carefully considered.” This means that maintaining distributed applications and data so that productivity, access, maximum performance and protection are maintained are among today’s biggest IT challenges.
Reducing the Risk for Data Breaches
There are several ways to reduce the amount of risk your data is exposed to, though each comes with its own set of additional challenges to consider.
- Establish a VPN – Virtual Private Network
VPNs work to securely extend a businesses’ home office network to be accessible online by multiple branches and/or remote offices. The main server is secured by requiring strict authentication for access, to keep outsiders from accessing the data stored within. VPNs are a great solution for smaller companies, with fewer branch and remote offices, as higher amounts of traffic on the network can cause data transfer rates to slow down, ultimately reducing performance levels.
For larger companies where traffic to the VPN may be high, a better option may be to use a cloud server. This allows data and apps to be stored remotely from the main server, which can then be accessed via a secure Internet connection with proper authentication.
- Keep Antivirus Software and Security Programs Up-To-Date
To maintain the highest level of security, it is critical that branch and remote offices maintain current antivirus software and other security measures to prevent a data breach. While this may seem like common sense, these measures are often neglected.
Because IT staff often works remotely in these types of offices, it becomes the responsibility of regular staff members to remember to install critical updates. Remote and branch office locations should have processes in place to remind staff to keep antivirus software and additional security programs up-to-date at all times.
- Employ Wireless Encryption Protocols
Due to the nature of remote and branch offices, staff members may often (or always) be accessing critical data via a wireless Internet connection to the Internet. Because wireless networks are extremely vulnerable to malware and other attacks, it’s important to employ strict wireless encryption protocols whenever staff is using Wi-Fi for business purposes. The most common wireless encryption types include Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2.
While public Wi-Fi networks accessed via local cafes and coffee shops shouldn’t necessarily be prohibited for general business use, critical and sensitive data should never be accessed or transmitted over these types of networks. When transmitting sensitive information, it is crucial that a user confirms they are using a secure Wi-Fi network at all times.
- Move Data to a Secure Data Center
Another option for maintaining the highest level of data security is to remove all sensitive information from remote and branch office locations, and to transfer it to a centralized, well-protected data center. This option allows users to safely access critical and sensitive data from any location, without compromising application performance levels. By moving sensitive data to a centralized, highly controlled data center or cloud, the management, protection and security of your data is ensured.
We live in a world where data has become one of our most business important assets – besides employees, making it critical that this data is protected from theft and other malicious activity. Businesses operating as hybrids of remote and branch offices have become the norm. Now, more than ever, it is necessary to be as careful as possible with the data we collect and distribute as a part of daily business operations.