Remote work geolocation security: it’s all about the…whereabouts

The work-from-home model that comes with the pandemic poses a security risk for companies across the globe. Geolocation might be the answer.

Geolocation security

According to Gartner, organizations that support a “choose-your-own-work-style” culture will boost employee retention rates by more than 10% by 2020. It’s likely that even after the pandemic ends, home-office will be here to stay.

While this is convenient for both sides of the equation, by moving employees to work from home, firms open themselves up to security risks. This includes unprotected networks, the use of personal devices for work-related matters, and increased number of end-points connected to work-related networks.

One of the ways to reduce that risk is using geolocation. Being able to monitor and verify the way employees are accessing company resources is key in order to avoid potential cyber threats. Geolocation software allows firms to have control over data access. It’s possible for companies to outline access limitations based on location, both geographical and functional.

The basic idea is that companies will be able to monitor discrepancies between user location data received from GPS and IP. Furthermore, access attempts in debugging, simulator or root modes won’t get unnoticed by the IT security team. Plus, thanks to the information available, security risk rating can be made for each access request.

This kind of solutions is suitable for all companies that want to make access to data, services or other resources reliant on final user location. It is especially important for the financial sector which operates with large amounts of sensitive data.

From the company perspective, geolocation software integrated with mobile access for customer authentication and authorization could - and should be - a solution. The software can be used as an independent authentication factor for numerous corporate resources such as email, databases or administration panels.

Advanced geolocation security software

Advanced software should allow for assessing the user location based on longitude, latitude and altitude, movement, speed, direction, provider and time. By accessing this data, companies are able to compare user geolocation coming from GPS with the one from the IP address. Moreover, top geolocation software is analyzing and detecting whether an access attempt is made in a specific working mode like root, debug or simulator.

When someone utilizes an app and its services, there may be many data controllers: the service provider, wireless access points or developers. Multiple data controllers force users to accede control of the systems that determine and store their location and much other personal information. Therefore, users usually cannot identify the source and ownership of data collection. This raises concerns among users as to how their location data is being used, with whom the data will be shared, whether there will be a further transfer of the data, and if will be destroyed or deleted at some point. The location-aware apps and so-called geo-marketing become increasingly pervasive, so concerns continue to exist around online privacy.

Targeted advertising, delivery services, content customization and other

However, the benefits of geolocation prevail over the disadvantages. Thanks to the use of geolocation software, companies are able to verify if a remote employee is where they’re expected to be, restrict data access from particular locations, manage access to sensitive data, block suspicious attempts of accessing data and define limitations. Geolocation doesn’t limit itself to security issues. It might help with targeted advertising, delivery services, content customization, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles and real-time incident management.

Finally, as the complexity of geolocation technologies rises, along with the variety of services built on them, there will be new topics and themes that society will continue to consider and debate. Those anxieties include how mobile phones, systems and location-based services have changed values concerning privacy, data collection, and even more importantly, data use.

Michał Górczewski, Business Development Manager, Comarch

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