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Securely Working From Home: Practical Concerns

Aside from managing the interruptions and distractions that will occur when you work from home (especially if you have kids), the biggest practical concern is how to do it securely. A home computing environment is very far removed from a corporate network, with both non-business gadgets (your TV, gaming console and “smart” appliances) and non-business users (your kids) sharing network resources and internet connections with you, the telecommuter, and your business computer, and no corporate IT department to call in.

A worst case scenario would be the spread of malware (viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, you name it) from your home computer or another device on your home computing network to your company’s corporate network and servers, and then from there to other telecommuting employees. A careless click of the mouse when browsing the Internet is all that it may take – and whether it was your click or your kids’ doesn’t really matter when it shuts down the corporate network, destroys data and makes it impossible for the other employees to get business done.

In the face of these and similar concerns, it is critically important to limit the impact of any household gadgets that you may have connected to your network on your work computer, and, by extension, on the equipment and computer networks of your employer and fellow employees. Given that you likely already have a firewall of some sort on your Internet connection, a good first step is not letting anyone other than you use the work computer for any reason, no matter how innocuous sounding (not even your spouse to check email). The next consideration is how to prevent malware that may be on one of the household computers or gadgets, such as a smart TV or entertainment system, from infecting your work computer through the home network. While you could ban all other computers, appliances and gadgets from connecting to the home network, this is likely a no go in most households.

For privacy, your company may set up and require use of a VPN (virtual private network) when you connect to the corporate network. While this works to hide the content of your digital communications from your internet service provider and other carriers between your home and the office, it does little more than that and nothing in terms of securing the corporate network from the dangers presented by the other users and other gadgets on your home computing network. A VPN encrypts traffic so it cannot be spied on in transit, but it does nothing to prevent bad traffic from traveling from here to there – it will encrypt and deliver it just the same as with the good.

One solution is to deploy LateralAccessDevice to segregate the network traffic and isolate individual computers and other connected devices on your home network from each other, so as to prevent the spillover of an infection on one computer to another. In essence, it would be as if each computing device were all alone on its own network, without having to set up separate, individual networks for each of them. With this you can safeguard the security of your work computer from the other users of your home computing network, while still allowing other users to use the Internet as they did before you became a telecommuter. It would not prevent you from accidentally downloading a virus yourself directly on to your work computer, but using the work computer strictly for work would go a long way towards preventing such an event.

Should you be in a situation where you have no choice but to use the same computer for both business and private purposes, the LateralAccessDevice could also help mitigate the risks presented by this arrangement, by limiting the type of traffic allowed to be sent through to the corporate network to and from specific applications and, further, at specific dates and times. All the while recording every packet that goes in and out.

LAD: LateralAccessDevice is software that turns a computer chassis into a high-performance, multi-purpose Internet / network tool that combines multi-dimensional firewalling, network monitoring, access control, packet capture, DNS, NAT and a host of other applications into one easy to use, integrated, high-security package. LAD takes you back to before the Internet!