March 27, 20232 433
13 min read
Providing employees with corporate laptops to work outside the office has become common for many companies given the mass transition to a remote work format. This practice offers a number of advantages, as it ensures the proper quality of work devices to perform tasks from home, helps standardize app deployment throughout the entire computer fleet, gives more control over device security and makes it much easier to monitor employee performance At the same time, unlike when employees are using their own computers for working off-site, it involves the additional expenses of acquiring and maintaining laptops. And, which is even more important, the use of work devices outside the office comes with some data security risks, not to mention the higher risk of equipment loss or damage. The article features the best practices for loaning laptops to employees, reveals efficient security policies, points to the most common traps and tells how to avoid them when lending devices and monitoring employees through them.
We are WorkTime, a non-invasive employee monitoring software, with 20+ years of experience in the employee monitoring market.
In case of theft, in addition to the loss of the device itself, a leak of data stored on it can cause even more harm to the company. However, security risks are less associated with laptop theft. Much more often, they occur due to inappropriate and unsafe online activities of employees. Working outside the office, they are more likely to get distracted by non-work and potentially risky affairs: visit entertainment websites, download unauthorized apps, play online games, follow suspicious links, etc. Such reckless use of the Internet can lead to malware infection of work devices, which can further cause data breaches in a corporate network. In addition, when working in public places, such as an airport or a restaurant, employees have to rely on unsafe network access points like public Wi-Fi. They may not even realize how easily information can be stolen from a computer connected to the Wi-Fi of their favorite café.
#1 risk is the loss or theft of a laptop.
Security risks are less associated with laptop theft. More often, they occur during work hours.
At the same time, without taking the appropriate measures that we will discuss below, uncontrolled personal use of company-issued computers will almost inevitably lead to serious security vulnerabilities.
Most employees working from home are absolutely relaxed about utilizing work laptops for their private needs.
A study by IBM showed that breaches caused by working from home cost companies an average of USD 1 million more than breaches that happened in the office. According to another research, 24% of executives reported unexpected expenses associated with cybersecurity issues caused by remote work on company equipment.
Personal use of company-issued computers will almost inevitably lead to serious security vulnerabilities. WorkTime employee monitoring helps detecting and blocking non-work related laptop use.
The same study also surveyed employees who had been provided with devices by their employers to work from home. It showed that most workers use company computers for private purposes just because it is convenient. It is not worth switching on a personal laptop to write a couple of messages or quickly view the news since you can easily do it on the work device you are already using. However, some go further, indulging in shopping and gaming. About half of the respondents said they used their work laptop for personal emailing, the same number of employees viewed the news. Almost 40% admitted to online shopping, 25% said they visited social networks. 22% claimed they downloaded unauthorized applications to their work computers. 4.6% confessed to playing online games.
24% of executives reported unexpected expenses associated with cybersecurity issues caused by remote work on company equipment.
Although most of these activities seem low-risk, they potentially pose a threat to work computers, and therefore to your company network. What kind of threats could it be? For example, through private emailing, employees can become exposed to phishing attacks, when letters come from seemingly familiar addresses and contain all sorts of baits that lure victims into various hacker traps. By visiting unsafe websites, and especially by playing online video games, employees can fall prey to so-called social engineering that manipulates people into curiosity and greed. Seductive ads containing false promises encourage victims to go to malicious sites or download infected applications or give out confidential information.
Through private emailing, employees can become exposed to phishing attacks, when letters come from familiar addresses and contain bait that lure victims into hacker traps.
In addition, when work laptops are used at home, there is a risk that the employee's family members, such as children, will use the computer, which will lead to uncontrolled Internet usage. However, all these risks can be mitigated if you take a number of preventive steps. One of the ways to control the use of the Internet is to introduce software like WorkTime to monitor the work of an employee on a computer. But this practice will only work in conjunction with other security measures.
Downloading alien software onto a work device automatically creates a weak spot in the organization’s security.
One of the ways to control the use of the Internet is to introduce software like WorkTime to monitor the work of an employee on a computer.
Implementing a security policy should be the first step to mitigating security risks.
The agreement should give the employee a clear understanding that by borrowing a laptop from the company, he becomes personally responsible for its safety.
It is worth developing a regulatory document that describes all the necessary requirements and recommendations.
It is preferable that he does not take the computer out of the house unnecessarily. If he takes the computer with him, he must carry it in a computer bag or briefcase, don't leave it visible in the car, be especially watchful when working on it in public places and not allow anyone, including family members, to use it. The document should outline to what extent a worker is allowed to use a device for personal purposes, whether he can install unauthorized applications and if he can, what kind of apps are allowed.
A borrowed laptop becomes a personal responsibility of an employee.
It is also important to specify the responsibilities associated with the cybersecurity of the device. Employees should regularly update the antivirus installed on the laptop, immediately respond to messages about the detection of a virus on the computer, and also report any security incidents to the company's support service. They should only set strong passwords, keep them secret, and use the security tools described below.
The document should outline to what extent a worker is allowed to use a device for personal purposes.
Employees should regularly update the antivirus installed on the laptop. Passwords should be managed properly.
Training should cover the following:
Most data breaches happen due to human error. That is why employee training is key for security, especially when company hardware is used off-site.
Hard disk encryption is vital when you loan a computer to an employee. It protects the data stored on the device even if it is stolen.
Setting up a VPN is crucial for situations when a worker uses public Wi-Fi.
In addition to the security measures, you can also utilize laptop management tools which make it much easier to control your computers wherever they are situated. From a single dashboard, you can see the status and location of all the laptops and be aware of when a computer needs an update or maintenance.
Employee monitoring software not only tracks worker productivity but also detects visits to inappropriate sites or uses of forbidden applications.
To avoid possible negative consequences of monitoring, it is important to strike a balance between control and privacy and use only non-invasive tools like WorkTime.
In the US, there is no legal obligation to notify employees that they are being monitored. At the same time, in most countries, including EU countries, such notification is mandatory.
The USA law allows employers to introduce a wide variety of monitoring methods. WorkTime employee monitoring is developed in accordance with the USA, Europe, Australia, Indonesia, India laws.
WorkTime provides legal, ethical and informative monitoring methods for measuring employee performance from various angles and improving worker productivity.
When employees know their distraction scores and understand how to improve them, they tend to become more focused on tasks.
Keystroke counting doesn’t involve capturing any content and therefore does not invade worker privacy.
To get the maximum from monitoring, be transparent, use ethical, privacy-conscious methods and tools, and share the results with employees.
WorkTime provides purely non-invasive capabilities that cover all your needs for employee monitoring and boosting their productivity.
Screenshots recordings allow you to see everything that appears on a worker’s monitor including personal messages. This method is excessive and extremely invasive.
WorkTime offers a safe, non-invasive screenshot replacement. You get the numbers, not the images!
All these methods are counterproductive as they create an unhealthy work environment. Realizing that they are totally controlled, employees feel unmotivated and stressed. As a result, their productivity decreases. More importantly, such monitoring violates the privacy of employees demoralizing them, destroying their trust and raising ethical and sometimes legal issues. As a result, you run the risk of increasing employee churn, damaging your reputation, losing your best workers and having great difficulty attracting new ones.
To conduct ethical, privacy-conscious and constructive monitoring, take advantage of WorkTime, the only non-invasive monitoring software on the market.
The COPE format implies that the employee uses the laptop primarily for work tasks, but can also use it for personal purposes: send and receive private letters and messengers, view non-work web resources, browse news and social networks, download files and applications, etc. This is the most flexible and employee-friendly format, as workers do not have to constantly switch to their own laptops for personal tasks. They can do everything from one device. While most employers opt for COPE, it presents some challenges for them as the personal use of work equipment increases safety risks for the reasons outlined above. In addition, a clear line should be drawn between what can be monitored on this laptop and what cannot, since this is private information. However, this problem is easily solved by non-invasive tools like WorkTime that make it just impossible for an employer to obtain any personal data.
COPE is the most comfortable format for employees, they do not have to switch to their own laptops for personal tasks. They can do everything from one device.
A clear line should be drawn between what can be monitored on the COPE laptop and what cannot. However, this problem is easily solved by non-invasive tools like WorkTime.
COBO is a stricter format that prohibits employees from using their work laptops for any personal purposes. It somewhat reduces security risks, but at the same time is the least convenient for employees. Especially in cases when they have to work outside the home and have to take both personal and work devices with them. Very few organizations choose COBO as it limits employees and ultimately reduces their job satisfaction and therefore their performance.
COBO is a stricter format that prohibits employees from using their work laptops for any personal purposes.
Besides, when employees use company computers, it expands your ability to monitor their work, as you can track any activity on corporate equipment. However, in this matter it is critically important to observe the line, balancing the need for control and respect for the privacy of workers. The easiest way to do this is to implement a non-invasive monitoring tool like WorkTime. Want to see the benefits of non-invasive monitoring? Try WorkTime, the software designed for tracking and boosting employee productivity!
The easiest way to balance the need for control and respect for employee privacy is to implement a non-invasive monitoring tool like WorkTime.
Benjamin Franklin once said “If you fail to plan you plan to fail”Planning is the first step in successfully managing remote and working-from-home employees.
Employee monitoring is legal in the UK. In fact, there are laws in the UK that provide guidance on the monitoring of employees in the workplace.
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