Contractor Laptops on Clients Site

Software contractors nearly always have a good laptop, often far better than a client would provide for its staff, and certainly with much better software on it (I personally am a fully paid up member of microsoft,IBM and Genuitec developer networks), Contractor are nearly always happy to use this for all clients work, but the majority of major clients don’t want it on-site on the desk never mind on the network.

why is this?, when the client would save so much money? usually security is the given reason? (either allowing viruses in or confidential data out).

On the surface of it, that is a slightly insulting and contradictory implication, in that a client will trust someone to write the core code that grows and maintains their business (often valued in the hundreds of millions) but not trust them to maintain the software and security of a 2K laptop!.

to be fair to the support and security teams they are often not thinking of contractors when these rules are put in place, they are thinking about the guy from finance who habitually opens every attachment that anyone sends to him, and whos laptop is a seething pile of malware, spam bots and viruses, but they can hardly say “we only let people who arn’t dumb bring their laptops in” so we all cop for it.

Thankfully, one of my clients has support managers who are enlightened, so for some time they have overlooked contractors bringing their laptops on site and connecting them , with the general upstanding that if one of us ever screwed up and brought in something nasty, then it would be back to an “all off” and the offender would be fired, this has worked for 4 years, with the occasional bored managerial idiot who has a melt down when they find out being asking if they are prepared to fund the huge cost of providing internal laptops and software for contractors out of their budget (strangely enough none of them seem to care THAT much).

Now we are moving to a new building a more formal procedure is being put in place, and the support manager has come up with a perfect solution, and one I feel could be picked up and used by many corporates with minimal outlay

It is simplicity its self, all large clients have a VPN set-up for remote working, so you just put in a wireless access point (my client trialled it with a cheapo Netgear router) and that access point is only allowed to connect to the VPN servers (your existing firewalls and external facing switches will be able to do this, though you have to remember to present the VPN’s servers EXTERNAL IP address to your wireless access point), and that’s it!, any laptop that can use the VPN can just connect to the wireless network.


  • Secure (you will already have the precedent for VPN access even for contractors), and even if someone gets onto the wireless network they gain nothing (not even basic internet access)
  • does not use internet bandwidth
  • easy to control/revoke access

    Top tips to make it easier for them to let your laptop on site

  • Have up-to-date reputable anti virus software installed (a printout of your licence does not hurt), they may want to use their corporate one, but the fact you already have one looks good
  • If you are in the UK have your laptops P.A.T. certificate to hand (only laptops older that a year need this)
  • Have your limited liability insurance certificate to hand (you should have this anyway).
  • If you are a Apple head or a Linux boy, or even a up-to-date windows person, you may need a copy of vmware (or you virtual machine poison of choice) as large corporations are notorious for only supporting/allowing old software on their networks

    I like simple solutions 🙂

Old Comments

Martin Scott(11/02/2011 18:23:05 GMT)

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