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How can the public sector work from home securely?

20 November 2020 by Laura Valentine

Public sector remote workingThe Covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption in every aspect of our lives and, for many of us, the biggest change has occurred in our working lives. Following the official advice to work from home wherever possible, remote working has become the norm in many industries, even those where it has traditionally never been considered an appropriate solution.  

For organisations handling sensitive or protectively marked data, in particular the public sector, security compliance presents a unique barrier to remote working. Where data security is paramount, the office has typically been the safest place for employees to carry out their work. Taking data off-site or accessing it from different locations can compromise its security if the right precautions aren’t taken and accredited, compliant solutions are not in place.  

So, how can public sector employers ensure their protectively marked data is as safe as possible during the pandemic and beyond?  

Cloud technology 

Virtual desktops aren’t new, but they’re currently more in demand than ever before. An essential foundation for remote working, access to a cloud-based desktop allows employees to carry out their duties from any location. It’s important to understand that connecting to desktop in the cloud is different to services that facilitate secure remote access to a user’s office desktop.  

For those working within the public sector – or any other organisation handling protectively marked data – controlling access is one of the biggest remote working concerns. When considering a cloud-based remote working solution it’s important to find out precisely how much control it will give you over user permissions. Can you control who is connecting onto your systems and what they have access to?  

When it comes to access, bespoke is best. A cloud-based remote working solution is highly scalable, meaning users can be added as and when required. Consider a solution that allows you to set precise user access permissions – this means everyone can still use all the files and desktop applications required, without having to worry about unauthorised access to protected files.   

Data sovereignty 

Do you know where all of your data is stored? With the Brexit deadline looming, the location of your data has never been more important, stretching far beyond the current WFH requirements. Although the GDPR will remain in UK law after the transition, there will be implications for those who host data overseas.  

For the purposes of data sovereignty, choosing a hosting provider with UK-based data centres provides a higher level of assurance about the security of your organisation’s data. When looking for a hosting provider, make sure you enquire about the locations of their data centres and whether they’re government and ISO-certified.  

Compliance  

Anyone operating in the public sector, or supplying services to the public sector, will understand the importance of seeking hosting providers with the relevant certifications to protect the most sensitive of data. Similarly, when it comes to seeking a partner to provide a remote working solution, look out for the necessary accreditations including Cyber Essentials Plus and the ISO 27000 series of standards.  

Designed to help public sector organisations find approved suppliers, the G-Cloud framework is a useful tool for narrowing the search to only government-approved service providers. Consider seeking a G-Cloud 12 approved supplier when looking for a solution to facilitate remote working.  

Connectivity 

Even when working remotely, it’s essential that the services provided by public sector organisations remain stable, reliable and available. It’s important that employees can connect and collaborate with each other, but also with the public, so that information can be shared efficiently and securely.  

An approved hosting partner can provide connectivity to the private networks used by the emergency services, including HSCN, PSN, RLI and PSN for Policing connectivity. This provides the assurance that data is shared within the public sector in a way that is safe and secure, no matter where you connect from.   

Support 

Operating securely in the public sector can take a lot of resource. It may be worthwhile considering a fully managed remote working solution – where the service provider not only manages all elements of the infrastructure but also the setup, security and maintenance of remote access too. 

With 24/7 support on hand, UKFast is G-Cloud 12 supplier and experienced in providing robust, scalable, secure remote working solutions to the public sector.  

Discover how UKFast can provide secure remote access for your organisation. Call today on 0161 215 4135.