Unfortunately, it does not look like the COVID-19 Pandemic is going to end anytime soon and so even the most recognized and well-established companies are being forced to adjust. If you still have regular cash flow, you are lucky; it means you are finding ways to keep your company afloat. Not a lot of businesses can say the same at this point.
Remote work is no longer just a prospect or option as desperate times sometimes call for extreme measures. While you think it may impact your company’s efficiency and productivity levels, having your people work from home is the most sensible option right now. But efficiency and productivity are not your only concerns; protecting your data and clients’ privacy can be a big challenge as remote work provides a huge opportunity for hackers everywhere.
Security Issues in a Work from Home Setup
There exists an undeniable security challenge for every business or company when it comes to remote work. The home environment lacks the defences which are commonly found in a typical office. This is quite true if your organization handles sensitive data and valuable information. An employee who traditionally works at the office is safeguarded with multiple levels of preventative security, which means that people who have bad intentions will have a hard time penetrating through those defences.
A computer or storage device that leaves the office premises instantly becomes exposed to all sorts of security risks. So, when you decide to let some of your people work from their homes, you are essentially putting them and your company’s guarded secrets in harm’s way.
With no other option, for now, your job is to make remote work feasible for everyone. For one, it corresponds to business continuity. You may not realize it, but your employees are head over heels grateful to you; millions of people lost their job because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
There are specific measures and practices that you should embrace to keep the security risks at a minimum. We will break down these practices into two perspectives – digital and physical.
Security Practices (Digital)
Tip 1 – Tell your employees to avoid public Wi-Fi at all costs.
Your employees might tell you that there is nothing wrong with public Wi-Fi, especially if they can encrypt their web connection. But the thing with public internet hotspots are that they will always be a security risk, no matter how confident you feel about them. The reason why it is called a “public” Wi-Fi is that anyone can have access to the network. There is also the possibility that an “interested” individual can monitor your employees’ traffic and site visits, and that is an easy thing to do since public networks are shared.
The best alternative for scenarios that require remote access to company programs and systems is to use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN does not only protect traffic data but also offers a versatile connection to different services without exposing anything.
Tip 2 – Work data must only be stored on work computers.
It might be tempting to use a personal computer for work-related tasks, but it could be a critical mistake. There is no sense in using a VPN, encrypting drives, and establishing a secure network connection when someone ends up checking their email on a different machine other than their work computer.
Tip 3 – Encrypt any data or information that relates to the business, company, or organization.
Obviously, employees who work from home will also need to access data and information. For the most part, the exchange of data is done through emails. This puts everything at the risk of being exposed and intercepted. The only way to make sure this does not happen is to encrypt all data attached to an email. Doing so prevents the likelihood of exposing or sending it to an unwanted recipient. Even if the message finds its way to someone else, there is no way to access or view the data.
Physical Security Practices Physical
Tip 1 – Remind your employees to lock their doors at all times.
If you watch reality crime shows on TV, then you know that even the safest of neighbourhoods in this country can fall victim to crimes such as burglaries and home invasions. If you assign someone to work from his/her home, you will assume that confidential information is immediately exposed once the work computer is removed from the company premises. There is no better preventative measure than keeping doors locked. This will not guarantee protection but will at least help in adding a layer of security.
Tip 2 – Mind those flash drives.
Ensure your employees use specific flash drives that they could easily distinguish from random ones. You probably do not know it, but some hackers drop flash drives within the premises of their target organization. This ploy will help them get data or information from an unsuspecting employee. Your people might pick up one of those drives and bring it home to use for their remote work. That is a disaster waiting to happen, and a preventable one.
Tip 3 – Computers and storage devices should not be left inside the car.
It is unthinkable for you to leave important stuff in your car, but, of course, people forget or are negligent. If your employees work from home, it means they will most likely bring their laptops and flash drives with them at some point while they run errands or go shopping. These items can easily end up in the wrong hands.
Remind your people not to leave their laptop and other essential items that contain sensitive data and information inside their car, even if it is locked. When someone wants access to your company’s data or information, he/she will do whatever it takes to get it, including breaking windows.
Make It An Official Policy
If possible, put these security practices in writing and get your employees to sign off on them for accountability purposes. The transition may appear simple and straightforward, but you must remind your employees that you are serious about it. It is hard to monitor your employees when they are at home but having systems in place to ensure accountability and responsibility is key.
For all your IT needs, JOT Digital can help you achieve your desired results by using our experience and technology to optimize your operations and find digital solutions. Call JOT Digital for a free consultation and no-charge on-boarding for a limited time!