Telecommuters Have Unique Security Needs - InformationWeek

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10/18/2001
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Telecommuters Have Unique Security Needs

The average home worker using a cable-modem or digital subscriber line link can expect about a dozen hacking attempts and at least one attempted denial-of-service attack every day, according to recent research conducted by security software firm Symantec Corp.

The first day a cable modem is installed, the line gets about 50 scans by hackers trying to break in, says Christopher Darby, CEO of @Stake, a security consulting firm. Telecommuters need to have up-to-date antivirus and intrusion-detection software installed on their machines, as well as personal firewalls attached to their cable modems or DSL links.

IT departments that implement virtual private networks for home workers often assume these systems are as safe as a dedicated private network, but they're not. The IT department needs to authenticate incoming traffic from telecommuters via the VPN. A hacker can break into a home PC and then hop onto a corporate network very easily via the VPN, Darby says.

Companies must teach employees good password practices. It may seem mundane, but password management presents one of the biggest problems when it comes to security. Users should include upper-and lower-case letters, punctuation, and numbers in their passwords, preferably of six characters or more. Different passwords should be used for each account. Most networks and applications are set up to prompt users to change their passwords on a regular basis--annoying but vital.

Educating telecommuters on good security practices and providing routine updates are probably the best measures IT managers can take to ensure safe and secure telecommuting.

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