About The Author
Roy Castleman is the founder of Prosyn IT Support, one of the UK’s leading IT consultancies. For two decades, he has applied his expertise to solving problems for SMB’s, enterprise, local and municipal governments as well as the financial sector.
Coworking is fast becoming a popular way for freelancers of all kinds to work, providing tech connectivity and versatile office spaces that foster collaboration, innovation and productivity. In essence, it is a BYOD (bring your own device) environment, but with so many personal computers and devices accessing the network, it opens the doors for a myriad of security breaches, both in a conventional sense as well as cyber-oriented.
Client Safety and Security Comes First
Knowing that you are safe and secure within your environment is paramount, especially when dealing with valuable electronics such as computers and mobile devices. A breach or break-in at the coworking space or any sort of malware attack on the network could be damaging to a space’s reputation. Being prepared for any possible occurrence will provide members with a greater sense of security, knowing that they are protected at all times.
Entrances should be well-lit, as should all work areas. If the space has 24-hour access, motion-detection flood-lighting is a helpful deterrent to would-be thieves or miscreants.
For optimum security, access points should be locked at all times, as should any areas that house key technology. Entry can be regulated through access codes, a key card system or through an access control system like KISI, which members gain entry using an app on their mobile device.
Monitoring cameras placed throughout the space should be streaming and recording 24/7 to ensure the safety of the users and the integrity of the physical space itself. Using an always-on system such as Nest, coworking spaces can have access to what is happening in real-time and will also be able to review up to thirty days’ worth of continuous cloud-stored streaming footage. The battery-operated system recharges while plugged in, allowing it to run continuously in the event of a power outage.
Though every coworking space is different, when members conduct conferences or business meetings in the space it becomes important to monitor non-member entry. Optix is an all-in-one CRM, booking and billing suite that can manage members and visitors with ease as well as offering full integration with on-site security systems.
Conventional and motion detection alarms should be in place to detect break-ins as well as smoke, fire and carbon monoxide. The latter few are mandated by law in most places, but the former is important too. The sounding of a loud alarm may deter potential thieves and prevent costly damage and loss.
Securing the Coworking Network
While minimizing threats from the outside is important, securing the internal network ranks just as high. Keeping your users’ data as well as your internal infrastructure safe from cyber-attacks requires a different sort of security protocol.
Password-protect access to your network with hard-to-crack logins, or require users to authenticate using their own unique credentials. If your users access the network through one password, change it up regularly, and create a separate network for non-members or visitors.
Double-authentication can be employed, requiring one code or credential to access the physical space, and another to access the network for an extra layer of security.
Access can be synced to current membership. This can be performed daily, weekly or monthly, and is an effective way to restrict unauthorized usage.
Have a network security policy in place that every member must adhere to. Statistically, most cyber-attacks come from inside the network, playing on social engineering techniques to coerce users to click on links that take them to harmful sites. Education is the best form of prevention, as seemingly harmless activities can sometimes lead to disaster.
For coworking spaces that cater to several different small businesses or workgroups, separate virtual networks can be created that are specific to each company. This way, each group of workers operates under their own secure network within the network, allowing workgroups to collaborate under an extra layer of protection.
Installing an IP filtering system such as Packet Viper will greatly reduce illegitimate traffic as well as protect from harmful communications both on an incoming and outgoing basis, promising better network performance and more robust security overall. Packet Viper can be customized to restrict bi-directional access through port, country or company, locking down your network from any potential threat.
Getting Pro-Active about Coworking Security
As the popularity of coworking spaces continues to grow, chances are we’ll be seeing these security issues come to the fore. As with any complex undertaking, the more people that are involved the greater the potential for something to go wrong. Being prepared is surely the best defense. Though the physical location of the coworking space will have a great deal to do with the security measures that are adopted, keep in mind that threats can come from places largely unseen. Network security should always be among the highest of priorities.