Coworking spaces are a popular type of office space, especially for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Coworking spaces can be an affordable alternative to traditional offices and an overall great tool for your business. If you use a coworking space or are considering using one, there are security risks you should be aware of.
A coworking space is defined by a shared work environment, shared offices, shared equipment, or shared ideas and thoughts. New offices are opening their doors and labelling themselves as a coworking space. Generally, these are rented out to entrepreneurs or small start-ups.
These office spaces are an open-concept layout to encourage collaboration between the people who use them. In these spaces, it is typical for someone to rent a desk and then share communal spaces, such as boardrooms. Printers, photocopiers and other types of technology can be shared as well. This makes the rent significantly cheaper than a typical office space.
Not all coworking spaces are created and labelled as such. It is becoming more common that a business may own or rent an office building and rent out part of its office to another business. They may share communal areas such as lunch rooms and boardrooms.
These spaces have greatly benefited freelancers and entrepreneurs who would have traditionally worked from home. Coworking spaces offer a lot of flexibility compared to a traditional office lease. Some people only use these spaces once or twice a week for a more professional setting to meet with clients. It is a great place for fellow entrepreneurs to network and it increases productivity since it eliminates the distractions of working from home.
Sharing an office can reduce rent costs. It can foster collaboration between several businesses which helps them become more successful. Businesses can share resources like market research. Overall, it helps smaller businesses have more access to resources because if several small businesses work together, they can better scale their efforts.
While coworking spaces are beneficial, it can also put your business at risk for security concerns.
Make sure you take the precautions to protect your business in co-working spaces.
Many coworking spaces offer Wi-Fi. Before joining a coworking space, ask about the internet access and what they are doing to ensure a secure and protected network. In some spaces, you can set up your own internet access. Even though this is an extra cost, it is the best way to keep you secure from outside threats or even threats from people working within the space.
If you choose not to set up your own internet connection, then limit what you work on in the office. Utilize the space a few days a week for tasks that aren’t as susceptible to security concerns and work from home on tasks that require confidential data. Make sure your computer is protected with antivirus software since viruses can infect other computers connected to the same network.
Before joining a coworking space, ask if the office requires that tenants abide by security policies. This can be anything from cyber-security policies to setting alarms when the last person leaves.
You might want to create some of your own security policies for yourself and your employees before you join a coworking space. You can ask other people you collaborate with to sign a non-disclosure agreement to legally protect sensitive information and intellectual property. If you are going to implement IT security, then you should secure your information physically and legally as well.
You should embrace collaboration among other entrepreneurs in a coworking space. Sometimes this will mean they need to access files or information from a database, especially if you have an agreement to share resources. Make sure your database is secure and set up for collaboration. There are usually options to share only specific folders from a database so that access is limited to only what people need.
Ensure all your devices you are working from are protected in some way. Create strong passwords for computers and encrypt sensitive data that is stored on your devices. Data is most vulnerable to people within your organization or office. In a coworking space, your risk is increased, so ensure your devices are secure.
Be cautious about USBs in a coworking space. These can be easily lost so keep them on a keychain. Take some form of security measure if the data you are transporting on a USB is sensitive. Password protect it or encrypt the data.
Many coworking spaces have printers and photocopiers that are shared property. Depending on the nature of what you may be printing, you might want to set up your own printer. Someone could accidentally or intentionally remove a document from the printer. Even if someone takes a document accidentally they could misplace it or lose it. People may intentionally remove a document from a printer if it contains intellectual property or client information.
If you don’t set up your own printer, it is best to print sensitive documents from home. Don’t leave sensitive or confidential documents unattended in a coworking space. Be sure to ask what kind of procedures are in place if the technology is out-of-service. A coworking space should increase your productivity, not decrease it because they aren’t prompt when it comes to servicing their technology.
It is best to take tablets and laptops home with you when you aren’t using a coworking space. If you have employees that work with you in the space encourage them to do so as well. Make sure that you have processes in place to back up your data in case a device got stolen. Devices should have the option to be wiped remotely so a thief doesn’t get unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Keystone Technologies can help your business stay protected in a coworking space. We will work with you to determine a suitable solution for your business’s unique needs.