The excuse for no work has now become an escape for work- I guess this statement is enough for the elaboration of the current quarantine situation. With COVID-19 hitting the world at this pace, most of the businesses resorted to shutting their office and letting their employees in commencing their work from their own bedrooms. After all, it’s a matter of safety.
But is working from home really that safe? It surely is for the employees, but it is a bit risky for the company’s data. Telecommuters tend to be more productive, but you cannot trust them with your data once and for all.
Truth be told, maintaining the security of the company’s data is a responsibility of both- the employer and the employee. And it gets more crucial to do during this era of a possible recession in the near future. Nevertheless, below are some of the essential points that you need to keep in mind to ensure the safety of your organization’s sensitive data:
1. Complex Passwords:
It might sound very unreasonable, but it’s actually true that folks take the option of generating a password for granted. People not only have weak passwords; they also never change them over time. They, thus, make it extremely easy for hackers to break into their confidential data.
Using complex passwords using a combination of alphabets, numbers, special characters, etc. or else it will become very predictable. The best way to type a password is to run your fingers randomly on the keyboard. It is also a good habit to never allow the system to save passwords, and always type it manually.
2. Separate Company Profiles:
Create profiles for the employees for performing official work. Restrict the usage of personal IDs by the employees while working on official data. Allow them to only work with their official IDs for sending and receiving mails, editing a document, or even while chatting with their colleague via any software on their system.
Make sure that you create separate profiles on every platform used for handling official data- google account, thunderbird profile, messaging apps, and every other online editing and posting tool. Maintain a record of the IDs and passwords of all the employees, and keep it confided with you. Share access to your company’s files only with these profiles, and track their actions at any time.
3. Avoid BYOD:
BYOD (Bring your own device) is a very ordinary way of telecommuting that allows the employees to work on the devices that they possess at home. It may not seem intrusive, but BYOD is not very reliable when working from home. People usually share their personal devices with their siblings and children, posing a substantial threat to the company’s files saved on it.
Try to provide desktops and laptops to your co-workers with only the tools and software necessary for their official work. Install the latest anti-virus updates, test for malware, never allow any hacker to infiltrate the sensitive data.
4. Track Office Devices:
This point is as obvious as the noonday sun. How can you be assured that your employees are actually protecting their data without monitoring their activities? It becomes inevitably crucial to track employee activities when working from home. There are various tools available in the market like EmpMonitor, Teramind, Hubspot that let you do so with the help of regular screenshots, keystrokes, etc.
You can also track the BYOD employees this way. System tracking will ensure that the workers do not tamper with the official data, and you come to know about it as soon as they do so. There is no better option for data security than 24X7 vigilance.
5. Save Data in Cloud:
ALWAYS upload your official data in the cloud. It will allow your remote teams to work directly on it. They will be easy to access, share, and edit. It will also ensure that you have the information backed up with you even if the employees mistakenly delete it from their systems. Always enable two-step verification and captcha verification for accessing this data.
Also, keep your employee records saved in the cloud- their attendance, productive hours, monitoring records, and everything else. Check and assess this information every once in a while to check for any potential threats among your online workforce.
6. Secure Servers:
Work only on the most reliable servers. It becomes very feasible for hackers to access, temper, edit, delete, and even copy your data using unauthorized internet servers. Avoid saving documents locally on the systems, and preserve it in the cloud (as already mentioned above).
In case an employee relies on a public server, do not allow them to edit ANY data unless you’re sure about their data authenticity. For the employees working on public networks, take prior permission from your authority to edit any file. Always work with an updated, reliable firewall that can avoid any data leakage via these networks.
Printing official data when working from home means allowing third parties to look into the information that they are not supposed to do. Also, why would you need a set of printed papers when you have the documents right on your screen?
The reason why people MUST avoid printing their official files is pretty evident- you would not want anyone to pick up your company’s data from your dustbins! It’s that simple.
8. Avoid Public WiFi:
Using public networks, as mentioned above, is very dangerous. Try to avoid working on a WiFi, unless you want to invite hackers to peek into your system and retrieve all the information out of it. It is very challenging to know which networks are safe. So it’s better not to rely on any of them.
When working from home, have your private internet connection in the form of broadband. Do not easily share the password, and only allow a third person to work on it while you are idle and not during the working hours.
9. Disposal of Documents:
As we discussed above, your data is not safe even after you throw it in the bin. It is even more unsafe if you do not throw them at all. You won’t even know when the pieces of paper lying around in the house get in the hands of an unwanted individual.
It is still advisable to never print the documents. But in the cases when you cannot help but print them for official records. Make sure you shred and dismantle it before its disposal. Do not let your kids and siblings make paper airplanes out of it.
Many of us do not focus on how crucial it is to train the employees beforehand and tend to panic when in crisis. Nevertheless, do train your co-workers with all the dos and don’ts of telecommuting. Teach them the difference between office and home office. Remind them that protecting data is not just a necessity but also their duty.
If required, the IT department should give them online privacy and security training, teach them how to detect and avoid online threats, and the steps they should take in case they encounter a system threat or malware.
Employees must avoid texting their colleagues regarding any confidential data via mobile phones. We are all aware of how secure they can be, and so it’s better to have conversations only on the company’s private chat rooms.
Make strict policies and restrict your employees from doing the official work on any device other than the systems assigned by their organization. Keep a continuous check on their systems to make sure that they do not install any unauthorized software for chatting with their friends.
Keeping It Safe
Data security has always been an issue- even before the people started telecommuting. However, the Coronavirus outbreak has drawn everyone’s attention to it, and everyone is rushing to get the right solution. Securing data is, indeed, tricky in the premises. It seems even trickier when working from home. In this article, I have mentioned the fundamentals of online data security that you cannot avoid this quarantine.
Do you have any queries? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!!