How can I make remote working for field staff secure?

We are a 100-strong company with a sales force of 40. I want our office network to be available to all of these remote workers, while they are out on the road. What’s holding me back is the security aspect and the prospect of overpaying for something which is too sophisticated for my needs. How would you recommend I go forward with this?


A. John Coulthard Of Microsoft Product Sales writes:

Security is a key concern and needs to be looked at carefully when mobilising any workforce. It’s a factor that’s often overlooked by the largest companies, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t the technology out there to meet this requirement. There are already servers for the small business market that address these issues. Some off-the-shelf solutions deliver internet and mobile connectivity, customer service, productivity tools, document integration and firewalls at an affordable price.

Cost is the key factor here. While you don’t want to pay too much, make sure you’ve invested in a solution that will grow with your business. There would be nothing worse than investing in something to fit your requirements now, only to find that over the next year the technology couldn’t meet your growing needs. Technology is an investment in a business for the long-term.

There are two key steps in addressing this issue. Firstly, find out from the sales force exactly what they feel would most benefit them. It might be as simple as getting access to email and calendars remotely, or looking at a mobile handheld device that can deliver connectivity on the move and access to email. Sales people won’t utilise the technology if they have concerns about security and ‘Big Brother’ checking on them while they’re out of the office.

Secondly, in terms of security, make sure that any technology your sales people are given access to, is protected by the correct security measures. You will need to ensure you have a firewall in place to guard against attack, regularly update your software and make sure that you run anti-virus software on all computers including your server.

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