Protect your intellectual property while your employees telework.

PositionYour Remote Workforce

The virus crisis has millions of new teleworkers firing up their laptops and logging on to company intranets. As you and your workers scramble to keep productive, don't forget about protecting your company's intellectual property.

While most workplace networks are protected against hacking and other security breaches, your employees' home internet connections are probably not. To address those concerns:

Contact your attorney. Ask if your existing intellectual property and trade secret agreements are up to date. Should you make changes if your workforce is largely remote?

Draft telework agreements. If you have not had teleworkers in the past, state that there are no promises telework will continue once the emergency has passed. Include a robust statement on intellectual property, including a reminder of any trade secret or non-compete agreements employees have signed in the past. Attach copies to the telework agreement.

Incorporate IT security. Work with your IT staff to assure that the tele-worker's access point to company network resources is secure (see below).

IT will probably set up a virtual private network to enable access. It should protect the teleworker's equipment from access by nefarious characters and protect your network from unauthorized access. If you have not used teleworkers before, get IT to secure your system ASAP.

Regulate access. Require teleworkers to secure their work areas against outside access. That is, explain that the designated telework area is off limits to family members and visitors. Teleworkers must turn off computers and other network-connected devices when not in use.

If possible, the employee's telework area should be locked when not in use. Written materials such as customer lists, contracts and other intellectual property must be secured.

Online resource The biggest telework employer is the federal government. It offers extensive information on teleworking at

Tech security for remote staff: 6 smart tools

  1. Wireless safety. Encourage workers to avoid public Wi-Fi when possible. It's best to tap into a hot spot or encrypted web connection. A hot spot will prevent other people on the same Wi-Fi connection from accessing the user's data.

  2. Firewalls. Make sure that all mobile devices with access to your data and networks have an up-to-date firewall.

  3. Virtual private network (VPN). When possible use a VPN, which provides a direct connection to the company's computer...

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