In addition to traditional benefits, more and more employers are offering additional benefits, including the flexibility to work from home, to keep employees engaged. Over the last 10 years, remote working arrangements have increased by 91%. In 2020, over 50% of the US workforce will be working remotely.
With great flexibility comes great responsibility—for data security that is. Employees who work from home or other remote locations still need access to critical business software and files located on workplace computers or secure servers.
IT teams must keep this connection safe and secure. Rebuffing hackers or malware trying to gain a foothold inside a business’s infrastructure keeps data protected, no matter where employees are working.
Teach your employees to follow these seven tips for protecting data while working remotely.
Make secure connections.
Your employees should start with the basics. When working outside of your office, they should begin with a secure internet connection, especially those choosing to set up shop at a public place like a coffee shop. Most data security breaches begin with an unprotected internet connection.
After safely connecting to the internet, double down with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). On an elementary level, a VPN creates a protected “tunnel” between the user and your secure business network. (On an advanced level, here’s how it works.) The bottom line, a VPN ensures the integrity of a remote employee’s connection and reduces your vulnerability to a data breach.
Step up email security measures.
Email remains the main method of businesses and employees around the world communicate with each other electronically. That means if the wrong person gains access to the right account, they can hit a motherlode of data, personal information and account details.
Many employees don’t know proper email security measures, like encrypting emails to prevent unintended recipients from seeing their content. However, if you invest in education and remote workers comply with a slightly longer log-in process, you can keep the wrong eyes from seeing sensitive information shared via email.
Spice up (and vary) passwords.
Would you rather pin your data security hopes to one password? Or many?
Diversifying passwords keeps prying eyes from accessing the wrong information, but often, users—with so many accounts to access—recycle passwords and are their own worst data security enemy. Using complex and varied passwords across the many password-protected accounts that make doing business possible will mitigate your risk of a data breach. However, if remembering all those credentials is too much, using a password manager will help organize and verify the strength of your logins (AND allow you to have to remember only one password).
Strengthen account access with multi-factor authentication.
Speaking of improved login security, applying multi-factor authentication (MFA) to accounts can further safeguard the data and information protected within. MFA asks users to login with typical credentials like an email or username and password, but then it prompts a user to verify their identity with another personal credential. This can include digits from their personal phone number, acting like a PIN number.
Don’t forget device protection.
Requiring employees to practice device hygiene still goes a long way. While we recommend prioritizing network security, data security software shouldn’t be ignored. Anti-virus programs for the tools you use while working remotely—your desktop or laptop and smartphone—ward off malware and hackers alike and should be kept up to date.
Go to the cloud for secure file sharing.
Offering flexible work options like remote officing means employers need to make file sharing and access easier. One of the most secure ways to do it is by migrating files to the cloud. Accessible anywhere through tools with built-in security options, cloud storage balances robust data protection with ease of use for your remote employees.
And of course, capture all of it in a company policy.
If you want to build and foster a data-secure culture, invest the time and effort in writing a company policy including remote work rules. Outlining the available tools and company-approved methods provides a roadmap and expectations for everyone involved, but it also makes it easier to offer flexible work without sacrificing security—something both employees and employers can appreciate.
Let’s resolve your data and remote work security pain points today. Get in touch!