At this point, most of us have mastered virtual meeting etiquette, privacy backgrounds, and strategic muting when kids/dogs/partners/doorbells contribute to extra noise in our home workspaces.
In addition, many businesses — and a number of our clients — have also voiced challenges and concerns related to data security. Securing and protecting work-related information remains one of the biggest worries for business owners and executives as their workforces access data from home.
When your team is working out of the office, a number of scenarios can put your company’s data at risk: unattended devices, outdated firewalls, public Wi-Fi networks, unencrypted data sharing, and general human error.
However, proactively addressing your security challenges can go a long way to ensuring your valuable data remains safe and guarded, just as it would in a protected in-office setting.
Whether your business practices relate to healthcare, construction, engineering, manufacturing or other professional services, there are steps you can take to stop remote-working data challenges in their tracks.
4 Challenges of Data Security When Remote Workings (and Solutions)
Outdated Software and Firewalls
While your office devices may have benefitted from updated software, a firewall security appliance, and cybersecurity upgrades, your team likely does not have access to those resources at home.
A solution is to provide company-owned devices that receive automatic updates of antivirus and firewall software. If that’s not an option, you can also help employees with installing security-related software on their own home devices. You can do this by creating and providing written documentation, or hosting an online demonstration where you cover software installation, tips and expectations, or asking your IT administrators to assist.
Regardless of how you choose to protect your team’s devices at home, make sure your instructions are clear and acknowledged by each relevant employee. Some ideas include dedicating a weekly 30-minute allotment to discussing security expectations (and recording your meeting), or sending policy updates that require employee signatures.
Remote working has presented unique challenges when it comes to password sharing and protection. While in-person or written sharing is now universally limited, text, email and chat sharing has become a new (and certainly less secure) norm.
To avoid the interception of your business’s passwords and access credentials, you can enlist an encryption software to protect your data that’s stored, sent and received. An encryption software works to scramble data that’s not being accessed by the intended viewer (aka, your team) in the event that a hacker intrudes on your private business information.
You can also use a company-wide password vault that provides access to certain websites, programs, and logins without the need for sharing individual passwords. Examples of password management softwares include LastPass and Keeper.
One of the benefits many businesses have found by moving to remote work is the transition to a cloud-based network. Cloud solutions can reduce your business’s downtime, eliminate the need for costly network hardware, and even improve security. As a bonus, cloud solutions are highly mobile and accessible from all your employees’ various locations.
By opting into a secure cloud-based service, you can make sure your assets have high-level security measures in place to protect them.
In remote working environments, device usage becomes more complicated. A business must choose whether to provide work-issued hardware, such as laptops or phones, or allow employees to use their own personal devices.
Beyond the HR and legal implications of personal device usage (reimbursement for costs incurred, accessing work company-owned information on personal devices, etc.) there are security challenges to consider as well. Unless your staff are working from home using secure Wi-Fi, a VPN, encrypted drives and anti-virus software, you can rightfully be concerned about their devices’ security.
For this reason, a clear device policy (that is signed by employees) is highly recommended. This policy can outline your expectations regarding data protection protocols, password usage, acceptable use of devices, and rules regarding device usage outside of normal working hours.
Avoid Roadblocks By Planning Ahead
You can side-step most of these frustrating and potentially damaging challenges by planning ahead. If remote working is part of your business’s operational plan now or in the future, it’s in your best interest to head off security breaches before they have a chance to begin.
Need help knowing where to start? That’s what we’re here for.
For over 40 years we’ve been providing trusted IT services to regional Southern Oregon businesses. During this last year in particular, we’ve helped our clients navigate the many curveballs of COVID-related guidelines, and the tech challenges of managing a remote team. We’re staying on top of what we need to know to better serve our remote-working clients, so they can continue doing what they do best.
If you have questions or you’re ready to enlist the help of experts to ensure your data stays in the right hands, give us a call.