• United States
Contributing Writer

Reining in your remote workforce

May 19, 20044 mins

* Questions to ask at our Enterprise Security and Remote Office Networking Tech Tours

In case you’ve been under a rock, the Sasser worm recently wreaked havoc with networks around the world – just the latest in a string of nasty worms that are challenging the normally nerves of steel in IT.

In fact, rather than being under a rock, I’m sure you were huddled up next to your servers trying to prevent, or recover from, a serious takedown of your systems.

By now, you probably have – at least you should have – a mechanism for updating your in-house computers’ anti-virus programs before they are able to log on to your network. I’d say this type of pro-active management is one of the best advances in IT ever. The headaches it saves are innumerable.

But what about all those far-flung workers who are coming in from every vantage point imaginable? Have you looked at how to secure their systems before they infect yours?

It’s a question we tackle head-on in both the Enterprise Security and Remote Office Networking Technology Tours (see below to register).

The key to this is to know what your users are using. I know that sounds elementary, but as we “Webify” legacy applications and allow users more independence in choosing their equipment, this tenet becomes very important.

When you take away the control you have over what device, what application and what connection users are employing to get onto your network, suddenly, it’s a different ballgame. You have to rethink your security to account for any and all inevitabilities and build a super-strong fortress around the point of network entry. AND (no less critical) you have to work with them to make sure their endpoints are secure as well.

Are they using wireless connections at home? Are they using a computer that you’ve approved and configured? Are they using anti-virus software that you can access and update? Are they part of a centrally managed system? Are they gaining access to the network before they are accessing updates? Is there a DMZ in place where the updates occur before full-on access is allowed? Are there policies in place that allow for limited access if updates are not able to be performed?

Most IT managers now have to deal with some form of “remote” user whether they are branch offices, telecommuters or mobile workers. Therefore, these questions apply to most IT managers and should be answered quickly.

I would recommend forming a team of remote workers – users of all types of devices and connections – and brainstorm ways to address these issues. Make sure you have buy-in and an understanding of the importance of centralized management and user guidelines. Remind your remote users that even if they own the equipment, the company owns the data that they are sending and receiving from corporate applications. Therefore, it’s the company’s responsibility to make sure that data is as secure as possible.

What do you think? Let me know at


Register now for these upcoming events:

* Enterprise Security Technology Tour

Keynote: Joel Snyder, NW Lab Alliance member and senior partner

at Opus One

Unfortunately, network security has become a costly catch-22. Just when the stakes to your enterprise are highest, you’re flooded with waves of security technology that are hard to evaluate fully, integrate properly, or deploy effectively. The typically “safe” response is to over-spend and over-build simply because you’re overwhelmed not just with what to buy, but how to buy, when to buy, and why to buy. Find out what you need to know at the “Enterprise Security: Failsafe Architecture” event.

* Remote Office Networking Technology Tour

Keynote: James Gaskin, NW Lab Alliance member

“Remote office networks are our fastest growing need.” “A crucial competitive edge.” “The future of the enterprise.”  This is the word from corporations. How can network managers meet the business demands of remote and mobile workers and avoid the downside? Balance costs with benefits? Protect data and profits, too? Attend “Remote Office Networking: Central to Success” to find out. It’s where you’ll see solutions that embrace far-flung networks and yet integrate with your architecture.