Coronavirus: With so many people working from home, will your company’s data be safe?

Coronavirus: With so many people working from home, will your company’s data be safe?
Stock photo of employees working in an office. (Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images)

BOSTON — Starting at noon Tuesday, nonessential businesses in Massachusetts have been ordered to operate remotely.

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But the question is: Will company data be safe, or will this only expose more data breaches?

At Boston's WFXT, you’ll see several empty desks in what is normally a very packed and busy newsroom.

“Yeah, it’s been crazy,” said Harry Seeto, information systems manager for the TV station.

It’s easy to practice social distancing, when the majority of our employees work from home.

But making that happen wasn’t easy.

“We put the outside Wi-Fi network just so we can mimic what it looks like at home, then we tested. All the employees got thorough training based off that type of set up, and if they were able to do the job properly. We did our job,” Seeto said.

Even though news professionals are considered essential employees, the station's IT staff still worked proactively to get our network ready in expectation of Gov. Charlie Baker’s statewide stay-at-home advisory.

But many companies with smaller budgets could struggle with this 24-hour notice.

“Is that enough time? No, if that’s the first time you’re thinking about it, it’s not that quick,” Seeto said.

Dr. Barbara Rembiesa, chief executive officer of IAITAM, warns a majority of companies did not take proper precautions to track and safeguard sensitive data and are sitting ducks for a hack.

“A lot of companies were not ready. The hardware was not updated to support a work-at-home environment. They did not have the mobile software that they needed to monitor from home or do a remote shut off if needed,” said Rembiesa.

She said everyone will learn from this crisis.

“It’s going to take the crisis that we are in today and make it tomorrow’s opportunity because we are learning from this,” she said. “The silver lining is that we can work from home.”

And “it just takes a little bit of planning and money to secure a quality virtual private network in time,” she said.

Seeto, of WFXT, said it has all been a challenge.

“It is tough when you’re trying to go as fast as you can to give employees the ability to work from home as fast as you can, so sometimes small companies are sort of forced to bypass some of the security concerns and maybe deal with it later,” Seeto said.

Rembiesa’s company is now giving away free training on Tuesday and Thursday for companies who fear the coronavirus could lead to computer viruses. Click here for a link to those classes.

Up to 1,000 people can take the online Certified Mobile Asset Manager (CMAM) course on March 24 and March 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET by registering online. The course normally is available only at its full cost of $2,000. The only difference between the free access and the full registration is the availability of offline course materials and the CMAM exam.

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