Best practices for working from home

Overview

This is an overview of the Information Technology needed for staff and instructors working from home.  Start here for how to configure your home office during remote operations 2020. 

Table of Contents

  1. Getting IT equipment (computers, monitors, document cameras, hotspots, printers, etc.) 
  2. Your office telephone.
  3. Remote access to the SVC network (for shared files and specialized databases etc.)
  4. Conferencing and collaboration (Zoom, OneDrive, etc.)
  5. Software available (PDFs, e-signitures, Microsoft Office, etc.)
  6. Data Safety (the precautions are necessary for safety of information and student's identities.)
  7. Using your own computer for College work
  8. Reducing Risk on Home Networks
  9. Where can I get help?

Getting IT equipment

If you need a laptop, hotspot, or webcam, contact the IT Helpdesk.  These items are available for employees, by appointment.

Also, during remote operations you can get items from your office to use at home.  But first:

  1. Notify Security about your visits to campus.  They will send you a checklist and procedures and arrange with Facilities if necessary.
  2. Keep your Telework agreement up to date.  Take photos of the equipment you take home (including inventory tag numbers) and email them to the Human Resourses Department.
  3. Be mindful of these limitations:
    1. You CANNOT take printers.  
    2. Document Cameras do not typically work off-campus.  Contact the IT Helpdesk if you need a webcam or document camera.
    3. Your office telephone will NOT work from off-campus.  
    4. The IT Helpdesk only has phone support.  We work from home and limit our time on campus.

Your office telephone

While working from off-campus, there are two ways to access your office telephone. 

Remote Access to SVC network

The IT department offers two ways for you to access to resources usually available only from on campus (the U drive, SMS, FMS, PPS, FAMS, etc.)

  1. Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a configuration available on SVC owned computers.  With VPN, your laptop can access the network directly from off-campus.  A VPN connection is required if you want to use the IX Workplace softphone.
  2. Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a configuration available on non-SVC computers.  With RDP you connect to and use a SVC on-campus computer.  Your home computer acts as a terminal, so the processing and data remain on-campus.  There are two options for RDP:
    1. RDP into your office computer.  Your office computer needs to be ON, and configured to accept RDP.
    2. RDP into a computer provided by the IT Department.  We can configure and maintain a computer for you to use.

To use either VPN or RDP, you need:

  1. A remote access (.RA) account in addition to your regular computer account.
  2. To maintain the physical security of your home based system.  
  3. To protect the confidentiality and integrity of the data (see "Data Safety" below).
  4. Configuration instructions.  See the attachments and related articles listed on the right.

Conferencing and Collaboration

For information on Passwords, Browsers, Email, and Saving Files, see the article "Office Technology Basics."

For Video conferencing, we recommend Zoom.  Feel free to use the other tools available (Skype for Business, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams), but Zoom is nearly universal with your collegues.  See the article "Creating a Zoom meeting."

For file sharing, and using files without remote access, we recommend OneDrive.  One Drive is available from O365 apps, and/or from the desktop client.  Instructors may want to use Google Drive because that is the recommended practice for students.

Software available

Electronic Signatures.  If you need to send documents for signatures, you can get a subscription to SignNow from the IT Helpdesk.

Adobe Creative Suite.  If you need to edit PDFs, you can get a subscription to Adobe Acrobat Pro from the IT Helpdesk.

Microsoft Office.  If you need Microsoft Office on your home computer, here are the instructions.

Data Safety

If you use your personal device for SVC work, you must be willing to subject your device to legal searches.  All College work is public, and the public has a right to review it.  If you use your home computer, the police or the courts may search or seize it. 

Sensitive and confidential data must be protected.  IT will provide tools and consultation, but the supervisor and the user are responsible for preventing a data breach.  Employees should receive appropriate education and training on applicable departmental policies.  Users may need to sign a data security agreement.

Using your own computer for College work

Here are a few tips for using your own computer for College work: 

  1. Make a new profile (or user) on your computer so that you can keep College work separate from your personal work. 
  2. Download and use OneDrive.  Don't save College files to your local hard drive.  As an SVC employee, you have a OneDrive account associated with your email account.  OneDrive is a location for your files that is secure and mirrored to your College storage.   
  3. If anyone else uses your computer, make sure they do not use your work profile.  

Reducing Risk on Home Networks

[This section is from an article at the Center for Internet Security.]

Home IT devices, such as unsecured off-site routers, modems, and other network devices are subject to many of the same threats as on-site business devices. They can be attacked from any device on the internet. Remote devices are also vulnerable to unauthorized access from neighbors and passersby.

As we continue to work, attend school, and connect with friends and family remotely, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk and improve the security of home networks. Consider the following list to gauge the amount of risk involved and improve the security of your home network:

  • Are your network devices physically secured?
  • Have you changed the default manufacturer/administrative account password on your network devices (modem and router)? Many routers will come preconfigured with a password. The default password for most router models are easily accessible on the internet, making it extremely important to change the administrative passwords and not use the default.
  • Do you have a unique password and two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled on your network devices (modem and router)?
  • Do you have a password policy in place? Do you have a unique password and 2FA enabled on your internet service provider's web portal?
  • If you use a mobile application for network management, do you have a unique password and 2FA enabled?
  • Have you installed the latest updates for your network devices (i.e., modem, router, laptop/PC) or have you enabled auto-update with the device’s administration page?
  • Does your network device (router/modem) support Wi-Fi Protected Access Version 2 (WPA2) or Wi-Fi Protected Access Version 3 (WPA3)? WPA2 should be the minimum.
  • Have you turned off/disabled Wireless Protected Setup (WPS) and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) on your network? If enabled, these might allow attackers to connect to your devices without permission.
  • Have you changed the Wi-Fi network name to something unique that doesn’t provide any identifying information?
  • Have you enabled firewall on your network devices?
  • Have you disabled remote management? Most routers offer the option to view and modify their settings over the internet. Turn this feature off to guard against unauthorized individuals accessing and changing your router’s configuration.
  • Have you hardened your device by removing ports, software or services that are unused or unwanted?
  • Do you run updated antivirus and malware protection on your device?

Getting Help

If you need assistance with this topic, please call the I.T. Helpdesk at 360-416-7766. 

For general comments on this knowledge-base write to Andy Heiser at andy.heiser@skagit.edu

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