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March 26, 2011

Security begins at home

by AlanSBPerkins

I recently remembered a situation a year ago or so where I was called by a friend to assist them with a hard disk crash that resulted in them losing all of their client data, rendering the machine inoperative. This was a business based out of a home office. I won’t go into the nature of their business to avoid embarrassing them except to say that if their clients had wind of how close their data came to being lost it might have been bad for this small business operator. Really bad.

“Was there a backup?” I hear you ask. No there was no backup. Fortunately for the person involved and their clientele I was able to recover the hard drive. While I was doing this, I asked them if they had considered putting the data in the cloud and their response was ironic to say the least: “Oh I wouldn’t do that, the data is too important, I would be worried about the security.” And this said while I was working on the computer placed in front of an exposed window.

It got me thinking about how secure are our businesses when we expose our systems through our homes so badly?

Here are some things to think about when home meets office:

  1. What would happen if your home computer were stolen?
  2. Is your home computer connected to your office using automated VPN scripts? If so are you adequately passwording the machine?
  3. Do you have automated email clients that allow access to your email without you having to log in to view or respond to email?
  4. Do you have intellectual property on your home computer that would be bad if it fell into the wrong hands? Think source code, client lists, product plans, minutes of meetings etc
  5. Do you have children who connect to the computer and could share access with friends, install malware inadvertently?
  6. Are external people able to use your computer – babysitters, friends of family etc
  7. Do you discuss work with your family members? If so how clear are you that they are not sharing your news or company secrets with friends or posting comments on facebook or twitter?
  8. Do you have company backups at home that could fall into the wrong hands?
  9. Does your computer allow connections automatically to key systems like ERP, CRM, Project Management, Source Code Version Control,  Databases etc?

We tend to take a lot of care about our work environments, but it pays to be vigilant about the worst case when business meets the home environment.

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