Working from home poses risks for employers, employees

During the novel coronavirus pandemic, working from home and associated technologies have become commonplace.

But Benji Sawyer with Pelham-based Sawyer Solutions LLC tells employers and employees to be mindful of security concerns in the time of home offices and Zoom meetings.

“The bad guys are out there and they are trying to get you,” Sawyer said. “This is especially true in today’s crisis mode where people are using more tools to enable remote work.”

Sawyer Solutions advises companies on IT matters. Recently, that has included Benji Sawyer conducting webinars with members of local chambers of commerce and business alliances, including those in Shelby County, Hoover, Montevallo, Chelsea and Westover.

A common platform for the webinars is Zoom, which is actually one of Sawyer’s topics.

Zoom was originally targeted at the corporate marketplace. The pandemic has raised Zoom’s profile, as it has become the go-to platform for small businesses and even individuals looking to keep in touch with friends they cannot visit in person.

“All of a sudden, with everyone being locked down because of the coronavirus, their marketplace expanded dramatically,” Sawyer said. “There was obscene increase in usage in like two weeks.”

With such growth can come growing pains. An issue arose over Zoom’s chat feature, which could be used to send a link that, if clicked, could compromise Windows users’ login credentials.

Another problem has been the ability of savvy and ill-intentioned users to be disruptive on Zoom sessions, including inappropriate drawings that can be made visible on all users’ monitors.

But Zoom has worked quickly to resolve problems, Sawyer said.

“Zoom has taken everything seriously and been very on top of it,” he said. “Most problems haven’t been security (issues) but usability.”

With many people working from home, Sawyer also recommends against employees using personal computers for work.

“As a business owner, you have no idea what’s on their computer,” Sawyer said about the possibility that malware from a personal computer could spread to create a significant problem.

Who else might be using that personal computer is also a concern.

“If your employee leaves something up on the screen and walks away, can a kid get on it and delete all the files?” he said.

Other concerns with this scenario include poor performance, encryption, incompatibility, legal implications and employee turnover.

Sawyer said his webinars with business leaders are short, with a primary focus on how to find the information they may need.

“When they’re scrambling to try to figure out how to make this work, they can at least ask the right questions or look in the right places for information,” Sawyer said.

For more from Sawyer Solutions, visit SawyerSolutionsLLC.com.