How to set up a secure router for people working from home

In an era where remote work is becoming the norm, safeguarding network security has become more vital than ever. One robust method to protect your organisation’s data is to provide your remote employees with dedicated routers to use at home. These routers, connected to their existing home broadband networks, create a physically separate network solely for work use.

This blog post will guide you on setting up, monitoring, and enforcing such a system effectively.

The Power of Physically Separate Networks
Providing dedicated routers for remote employees creates a physically separate network that isolates work data from home traffic. Traffic between your company and the remote employee can be encrypted using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), providing an additional layer of security.

Setting Up a Dedicated Router Program
The starting point should be selecting suitable hardware and pre-configuring it to your company’s security standards. Once the hardware is ready, it can be shipped to the remote employees with instructions on connecting it to their home networks.

We’ve estimated that, on average, preparing and shipping a router could take about 1 to 2 hours of IT time per device. Here’s a rough breakdown:

  1. Choosing the Router: IT selects a router model that aligns with the company’s security standards and suits remote work needs (15-30 minutes, one time only).
  2. Configuring the Router: The router is pre-configured with necessary settings such as network name, updating the existing firmware, changing the default admin name and password, adding VPN settings, etc. (30-60 minutes).
  3. Packing and Shipping: The router, clear written instructions, and any additional necessary hardware (like ethernet cables) are securely packed and shipped to the employee’s home address (15-30 minutes).

Additional time will be required to produce items like user instructions and wetting up support guides and processes for the IT team supporting the routers once they are in use.

Monitoring and Enforcing Compliance
Once the dedicated routers are in place, it’s crucial to ensure they’re being used correctly and consistently. Automated system checks, employee self-reporting, and regular reminders about the importance of using the dedicated router for work can all be used to gather the compliance data required.

Here we’ve estimated that a compliance check will likely take approximately 30 minutes per employee each quarter, totalling about 2 hours per employee per year. Here’s a rough breakdown:

  1. Preparation: Set up the check, connect with the employee, and explain the process (10 – 15 minutes).
  2. Checking the Network: The actual check! (10 minutes).
  3. Documentation: Documenting the check and its results (10 minutes).

Providing Ongoing Support
Providing technical support to remote employees for troubleshooting and maintenance is essential to a program like this. Support issues are likely to range from troubleshooting connectivity issues to guiding an employee through replacing broken hardware.

Implementing Your Program: A Checklist

Here is a simple checklist to assist in setting up, monitoring, and maintaining your dedicated router program:

  1. Decide on suitable hardware that meets your company’s security standards.
  2. Set up a process for pre-configuring and shipping routers to remote employees.
  3. Establish a procedure for remote employees to report issues and receive technical support.
  4. Develop an auditing process to ensure the dedicated routers are used correctly and consistently.
  5. Regularly remind employees about the importance of using the dedicated router for work.

Key Information to Track
To effectively manage this program, you’ll need to keep track of the following key information:

  1. Employee Name
  2. Router Make and Model
  3. Router Configuration Details
  4. VPN Settings
  5. Date of Last Compliance Check
  6. Router Usage Status (In Use: Yes/No)
  7. Technical Issues Encountered and Resolutions
  8. Work Devices Information (Make, Model, OS Version)
  9. Router Firmware Update Deployment

With the correct implementation and consistent monitoring, providing dedicated routers can significantly enhance the network security of your remote workers. Though it does involve an investment of resources, it’s a worthy undertaking for securing your organisation’s data in today’s remote work environment.