Small Businesses – Are your Mobile Workers Compromising your Security?

For many of today’s workers, using sites like Facebook and Twitter for personal communication has become second nature. Using these sites for work-related reasons is quickly becoming commonplace too, especially in remote working scenarios. According to a recent survey sponsored by Microsoft and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, when working remotely, 42 percent of information workers at small and midsized businesses (SMBs) use public social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter) to collaborate with colleagues.

It may not come as much of a surprise to you to hear that these public sites do not meet the same security and privacy protocols as in-house measures provide. Yet, less than one-third (29 percent) of SMB information workers report that their companies provide access to internal social networking tools.

There’s no reason for SMBs and their employees to cease the use of public social networking tools altogether; these public portals are powerful vehicles for marketing and brand awareness, and they’re fun to use, too. However, when employees cross the line and start sharing sensitive corporate information or intellectual property, potentially serious ownership and security issues arise.

Fortunately, businesses can implement internal collaboration tools that mimic many of the features public social networking tools offer, with the assurance that any information exchanged with these tools remains safe within a corporate firewall. For example, Office 365 helps mobile workers collaborate better and more securely with password protected sites to share team documents and updates or important business information such as Access databases and calendars. Where appropriate, workers can grant site access to customers and clients to keep them updated on pertinent information.

Moreover, with click-to-communicate functionality, employees can quickly pivot between IM chats, audio calls, Web conferences and more. Rich presence information makes it easy to know if a colleague is available to collaborate and, because Office 365 resides in the cloud, it’s available on PCs, laptops and many mobile phones.

Its business class-security features makes Office 365 ideal for SMBs, which often lack in-house IT departments. Office 365 helps safeguard your critical data with geo-redundant, enterprise-grade reliability and disaster recovery with multiple datacenters, automatic failovers and a strict privacy policy. Office 365 also helps to protect your e-mail environment with up-to-date antivirus and anti-spam solutions.

Today, SMBs are implementing telework practices almost as rapidly as enterprise organizations are. According to the survey, four of 10 (39 percent) information workers at SMBs say their company has a formal policy allowing employees to work remotely, and nearly 60 percent of SMBs provide some type of remote working technology support for employees.

SMBs that mobilize their workers gain a greater competitive edge. They can function with more flexibility in an increasingly global, mobile marketplace, and even save money and resources in the process. But all of the benefits of remote working can quickly come to nil if SMBs don’t also remain vigilant when it comes to the security concerns that accompany telework.

To learn more about how Office 365 can help your business mobilize its workers while keeping your business data safe and secure, check out the Office 365 homepage here.

Posted by Cindy Bates
Vice President, U.S. Small and Medium Business & Distribution, Microsoft

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