As we move into an unprecedented era of remote working (or rather, working from home!), companies and employees need to consider how to protect sensitive data.
Several security considerations must be explored. Employees working from home will have access to work systems without the protections an office brings – they will be using different IT infrastructure, bandwidths and Wi-Fi connections that may not be secure. This all brings an element of danger to your company’s data – as your employees access your database or databases remotely, the risk to that data grows. Usually the risk is only between the server, internal network and end user machine. External working adds the risks of public internet connections, local networks and consumer-grade security systems.
Here are some of the best ways to protect your data whilst your employees work from home.
Tutor your Employees in Data Protection and Computer Security
“It’s worth giving your employees a basic training on how to stay safe online and digitally,” says Joey Garcia, a tech writer at 1Day2Write and NextCoursework. “This can include warning them about phishing emails, avoiding public Wi-Fi, securing home Wi-Fi routers and verifying the security of devices they use for work. Remind employees not to click links in emails from people they don’t know, not to install third-party apps, and to be aware that hacking and phishing attacks will increase during the quarantine period.”
Create an Emergency Response Team
Whilst teaching your employees some basic computer security is a useful preventative measure, you need an emergency response team for the unfortunate event of your data being compromised. Ensure this team can be contacted by everyone in the company and everyone knows exactly what to do in the event of a cyber-attack.
Provide your Employees a VPN
Using a VPN (virtual private network) is a good way to ensure data remains secure. A VPN provides more security by hiding the user’s IP address, encrypting data as it is transferred, and masking the user’s location. Most companies use some sort of VPN already – all you need to do is expand it to all of your employees as they work from home and allow them to use it for all business-related activity.
Provide your employees with the best security protection on all of their devices – this can be anti-virus software, firewalls, and device encryption.
“Have a look at the best security software for Macs or Windows, depending on what devices your company employees use,” says Melisa Cueva, data analyst at Australia2Write and Britstudent. “Norton Anti-Virus consistently ranks highly, but there are many other options out there.”
It’s a good idea to have your employees regularly change their passwords, and to teach them how to make the best passwords. Perform an audit and ensure all passwords meet a strict security police: alphanumeric codes are much better than names or dates that are easily guessed. Two-factor authentication should be put in place as a mandatory procedure.
Update all Software
Windows and Apple Mac’s have their own useful security measures in place to protect devices from attacks. Ensuring all updates are completed and software is at its latest version can also prevent devices from attacks. Ask your employees to check their computers and phones are up to date and activate automatic updating on all devices.
Don’t Store Information Locally
You can instead store information on the cloud, using services like Google Drive or Microsoft Office 365 Online. This also includes avoiding the use of USB sticks, as these devices can be infested with malware. Content should be stored on cloud-based software wherever possible, and employees should use cloud-based apps, too. Locally stored information means it is stored on a physical disk, like the hard drive of a computer. Cloud software is great because you can backup all data here, too.
In case of any need to reset and wipe devices of viruses, encourage your employees to back up all their data – whether that’s on the cloud, or to local storage (but this isn’t recommended for reasons mentioned above!).