From WeWork, Impact Hub, and Knotel to Serendipity Labs, Green Desk, and Techspace, coworking spaces are revolutionizing how people work. A shared working space, or a coworking space, is an environment that fosters collaboration by allowing companies and employees of all sizes and industries to share equipment, offices, and in some cases, ideas. These coworking spaces offer a variety of benefits including flexible leasing or membership options, more affordable working spaces, resources for start-ups, offices for conferences and meetings, the list goes on and on. It’s no surprise that remote employees, start-ups, and established enterprises have all begun to use these innovative shared working spaces. However, with coworking spaces at such a high demand, one must stop to ask: what are the information security concerns for shared working spaces? What potential risks do shared working spaces pose for the various clientele they serve? Let’s find out.
Top 4 Information Security Concerns for Shared Working Spaces
While the benefits of using coworking spaces are enticing, organizations must be aware of the information security concerns that shared working spaces pose to their security posture. When working in an environment that caters to a variety of organizations, industries, and clientele, businesses and coworking facilities must perform their due diligence to ensure that their organizations’ assets remain secure. So, how can this be done? We believe that organizations should review these top four information security concerns for shared working spaces before signing up for any type of membership.
Perhaps one of the top information security concerns for shared working spaces is physical security. With the number of members coming in and out of the coworking space each day, shared working space facilities must have processes for verifying the identify of members. This might be ID badges, key fobs/cards, biometric access controls, security guards, and/or receptionists. There should also be some type of video surveillance, monitoring, and logging so that if an unauthorized person gains access to the facility, there will be documentation.
Internet and Cybersecurity Policies
Another top information security concern for shared working spaces has to do with Internet and cybersecurity policies. Does the shared working space offer unique WiFi credentials for each user or company? How does the coworking space segment each member’s access to the Internet? A malicious hacker could easily purchase a day pass to a coworking space, hack the WiFi, gain access to members’ sensitive information, and breach the data of multiple organizations. If you’re going to work out of a shared working space, make sure that the organization has strict Internet and cybersecurity policies to keep you and your data protected from potential hacks.
Depending on the type of membership one purchases, there are different concerns for device security. If a start-up purchases a monthly membership and plans to work out of the office every day, they might want to leave their equipment in the coworking space. This would call for greater security controls to be implemented in addition to the physical security controls mentioned above. In this case, the coworking facility would need to offer lockers or locked rooms to keep devices from being stolen. On the other hand, if a remote employee uses the coworking space on a day-to-day basis and has no need for leaving their devices overnight, there still needs to be device security controls in place to ensure that their device remains secure. What if a remote employee gets up to grab a coffee? What security measures are in place to ensure that the device left on the table isn’t compromised while they’re away from their desk?
In a collaborative environment, it can be easy to overhear confidential conversations or shoulder surf, which is why it’s paramount that the coworking facility offers solutions to mitigate this. Let’s say that two competitors work out of the same shared working space. If one company overhears a product pitch and decides to copy the idea, that could be result in the demise of the other company. There needs to be conference rooms or secure locations where members can share ideas and hold confidential meetings without the risk of sensitive information being overheard and/or stolen. To mitigate the risk of shoulder surfing, on the other hand, each member should take their own precautions and utilize polarized screen shields and lock their screens whenever not in use.
The allure of coworking spaces doesn’t seem like it’s dying down anytime soon. If your organization is considering utilizing a coworking facility, make sure you perform your due diligence and ask questions about how the shared working space addresses these top four information security concerns. If they don’t have established and effective policies and procedures for physical, Internet, device, and personnel security, they aren’t a secure facility.
Interested in learning more about how you can stay protected when working in a shared working space? Contact us today.