How to Ensure WFH Is as Secure as an Office Job

By SolarWinds on April 15, 2021


As the world grapples with the transition to a largely remote workforce, MSPs can shore up WFH security for customers with the right suite of tools.

Because of the ongoing global impact of the coronavirus pandemic, more people are working from home today than ever before. While going partially or fully remote initially seemed like a challenge for some companies, the global shift toward remote work has actually made it clear that organizations can often continue operating just as efficiently remotely (if not more so) than before.

This situation presents new opportunities and potential advantages for companies that outsource their IT needs to managed services providers (MSPs). And by utilizing robust tools that help with remote access and remote support, it’s possible for those service providers to monitor and manage customer systems and networks with greater efficiency and flexibility. There are, however, certain inherent challenges associated with managing remote workforces and systems—especially when it comes to security. Here are a few tips for helping ensure remote workers and their devices are as protected as possible.

Choosing effective security solutions

Business continuity is a key service MSPs can provide for their customers, but it shouldn’t come at the price of exposing customer systems to viruses, malware, and other threats. This is doubly important for MSPs—not only are you responsible for the security of your customers, but your own systems need to be up to the job as well.

As we know, managing remote workforces and systems can lead to security concerns not often encountered in traditional office settings. One prime example of this is password insecurity. The classic example of an end user leaving their passwords written down on or near their workstation is a significant risk, but it’s one that hopefully can be mitigated and reasonably managed in an on-premises office environment. It’s much more difficult to make sure that someone’s not making poor password decisions away from the office. Users who are nonchalant or reckless about the security of their passwords make it easier for bad actors to potentially gain login credentials with elevated privileges and access to sensitive data. This presents a potential vulnerability that MSPs should be aware of when it comes to a remote workforce.

Adequately protecting yourself and your customers in a world of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks and increasingly expensive data breaches now means utilizing some security software to protect against these risks. The good news is that there are robust IT tools designed to meet the needs of MSPs and their remote customer bases.

Remote monitoring and management solutions like N-able N-central® and N-able RMM put a number of useful security features at MSP’s fingertips. These include endpoint detection and offline protection, automated threat response and rollbacks, and powerful analysis tools. Both options include managed antivirus services and behavioral artificial intelligence engines that can help you identify anomalous activity faster and prevent threats from infiltrating the devices and systems used by remote employees.

Ensuring remote workers are following password best practices

Part of the reason end users may write their passwords down or store them in spreadsheets in the first place is because they’ve been told time and time again that each password needs to include a mixture of uppercase and lowercase symbols and numbers, be both complex and unique, be above or between specific character counts, and so on. Remembering a different, complicated password for every account is a tall order for most—which is why using a password manager like N-able Passportal can come in handy for both MSPs and their customers.

Passportal consolidates password and documentation management into one dashboard, helping to guarantee that end users’ passwords meet minimum complexity requirements even when working from home. Convenient features like an encrypted password vault, tools for triggering routine or as-needed password changes, and role-based permissions all help to secure account credentials.

Additionally, all accounts should have two- or multi-factor authentication enabled, which is a simple but effective way of helping prevent third-party bad actors from gaining access to critical systems should they happen to acquire a password.

Protecting against the possibility of human error

It’s a fact of life that mistakes are eventually going to happen, which means you need to be prepared for when they do. Especially when end users are working away from the office with little to no oversight, the potential for human error increases. If someone deletes critical files or data, whether accidentally or maliciously, the effects can have a huge and potentially devastating impact on a company’s ability to operate. In the worst of circumstances, a backup and disaster recovery tool can mean the difference between the success and failure of a business.

N-able Backup offers powerful features that make it easier to undo or rectify the damage of data loss. Backup helps you manage backup and recovery operations for end user workstations, Microsoft 365 email accounts, vital business documentation, and critical infrastructure devices like physical and virtual servers. Not only that, Backup provides private cloud storage, fast and encrypted data transfers, and a variety of recovery methods that allow you to respond to customers’ backup and recovery needs on a case-by-case basis.

Leveraging the benefits of remote access tools

The transition to a WFH environment is underscoring the importance of remote access tools, which can be used in a variety of productivity-boosting ways. On the MSP side of the equation, these tools make it possible for your technicians to assist customers, provide services, or deliver updates from almost anywhere with an internet connection.

N-able Take Control is a powerful and affordable remote support solution that enables your technicians to establish fast, encrypted connections with customers’ workstations, mobile devices, and infrastructure endpoints. Take Control offers unattended support capabilities, allowing you to deploy security updates and perform routine maintenance behind the scenes without interrupting your customers’ workflows. You can also use these features to help ensure applications and operating systems are kept up-to-date. For when you do need an end user present, the tool offers live chat, VoIP, screenshots, rapid file transfers, and other capabilities that help minimize miscommunications and resolve issues quickly.

Like most N-able products, Take Control is also a highly configurable tool, which allows you to customize your workflows, security audits, and other processes to meet the needs or preferences of your individual customers. Remote access tools streamline your support operations in ways that are essential for any service provider looking to respond to the needs of an increasingly geographically distributed workforce.

Maintaining a properly organized ticketing system

On top of all the aforementioned efforts, admins also need to ensure their technicians stay on task and address any identified security risks. Efficient technician management and supervision doesn’t have to be difficult to achieve—N-able MSP Manager offers a range of tools for keeping responsibilities clear and workflows moving. The tool’s time tracking and ticket prioritization features help your team stay focused and productive, while auto-billing solutions keep your financial headaches to a minimum.

To get the most out of MSP Manager, you can integrate it with an all-in-one solution like N-able RMM or N-able N-central to build a more efficient and comprehensive ecosystem of tools. By integrating features like time tracking, contract and SLA management, billing, and other ticketed processes alongside capabilities like remote access and network monitoring, you can give your technicians a comprehensive dashboard that helps you get paid for the work you do.

Creating a more secure future for you and your customers

As our modern working environment continues to change, providing a better quality of service and getting ahead of the competition will require MSPs to adopt the tools and solutions that maximize the productivity of their technicians. Robust remote access tools are an effective way of streamlining your business operations while simultaneously increasing the operational effectiveness of your team.

Not only that, remote access tools provide proven methods for shoring up WFH security, regardless of how your customers’ workforces are distributed. The bundle of N-able products mentioned in this piece are a prime example of how connection speed, detection, ease of access, and response times don’t require sacrificing the security of your customers’ systems. Overall, utilizing powerful tools to combine security features with remote capabilities can help you protect your customers and keep systems efficient and productive during this current era of remote work.

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