There are a number of reasons why a small-business owner would want to set up a remote office. For example, a contractor may need a quiet place away from his construction site to handle paperwork. A therapist may set up her practice from home. An accountant may want to expand the talent pool and hire people outside his or her geographical location. And there are dozens of other reasons why establishing remote offices make sense.
If you want to establish a remote office, it is critical that you take steps to ensure that it is secure. After all, you may be privy to customer contact information and potentially private details, ranging from social security numbers to salary information and more. You do not want to risk that confidential information getting hacked or leaked.
Today's technology makes it relatively easy and inexpensive to set up remote offices for yourself and employees. Follow this advice:
Establish a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) allows you to use a public telecommunication infrastructure, such as the Internet, to grant you and other users secure access to your small business network.
A PCMag.com Editor's Choice, Private Internet Access protects your privacy by encrypting your connection and providing you with an anonymous IP address. Prices are $7 per month or $40 annually. Another popular option is TorGuard, which offers similar encryption and an anonymous IP address, but is available in a range of packages, starting at $5 per month, designed to suit your specific needs.
Ensure Security of Your Online Data
Criminals, hackers, viruses, malware and more are out there doing their best to attack your confidential information.
Symantec security solutions detect and respond to security breaches and malicious activity 24/7 to prevent disruptions to your small business. In addition, Symantec offers data loss prevention to ensure that your confidential information across all of your networks is secure, and it protects your email against phishing, malware, spam and targeted attacks on cloud-hosted or on-premise email systems. Antivirus and security solutions start at $30 and prices range depending on your needs and number of devices you want to protect.
Kaspersky Small Office Security makes it easy for you to manage the protection of your entire office from one PC. Run scans, complete updates and backups, remotely manage employees' access to the Internet, update security licenses, and fix security issues. Packages start at $150 for five users and one year of protection.
Enable Remote Deletion
You and your employees may be accessing confidential data from your personal devices. Should one of those devices be stolen or lost, that data could end up in the hands of someone else. Furthermore, if employees quit or you are forced to terminate them, they can take confidential data with them.
With remote deletion software technology, you can wipe clean any data on those devices from anywhere. Trust Delete allows you to customize folders and delete them based on level of importance, and the "Data Conceal" function allows you to hide files and data even when your PC is offline. A one-year license costs $30.
Also allowing remote deletion, Druva's Remote Delete Laptop Data Enterprise Software meets the National Security Association's (NSA) security standards and allows you set up policies for decommissioning devices that have not connected to your server in a pre-set period of time. Prices start at $5 per month per user.
Access PCs Remotely
Access your small business computer safely from anywhere using GoToMyPC, with plans starting at $10 per month, and Radmin, which costs a flat one-time fee of $49 per computer.
Set up a Phone System
You can save money and cut down on equipment needs with a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) -- hardware and software that allows you use to the Internet to make and receive phone calls. Voice Calls from Gmail is currently free in the United States (international calls range from 2 cents to a dollar or two per minute), and you can use the service to call landlines or mobile phones. Another popular choice is Vonage, because it is easy to set up and offers loads of features. Plans start at $40 for businesses, plus taxes and fees (international rates start at 3 cents per minute).
Another option is to purchase mobile phones for yourself and your remote employees. U.S. Cellular's Better Business Package allows you to customize a package, choosing from an array of devices and options, to meet the needs of your business -- and your budget.
If you are planning to create one or more remote offices, prepare to invest in key technology that will allow you to protect confidential information, fight malicious attacks on your system, and maintain a high-level of productivity.