Updated: May 24, 2020
As the number of employees who work remotely increases, businesses are facing some new challenges. A pressing issue for companies is keeping data safe outside of company premises. This is where they don’t always have the same control over security levels as on-site.
Remote workers also need to become their own IT support, as they can’t rely on the IT guy when facing problems with their PC. This creates the probably of a potential for lost data, or creating gateways for data to be hijacked.
Here are some tips for employees and employers to ensure that no data gets lost or mishandled when working out-of-office:
1. Setting Up Safety Measures
New regulations require that ANY business must be compliant with data security standards and minimise the risk of any type of breach.
But just as cybersecurity progresses, so do the cybercriminals.
Computer viruses and malware are more sophisticated than ever before. Remote workers can easily become a target because working at various places increases the risk of unsecured networks and issues that come with using their own devices.
Without the right security precautions, cybercriminals are able to do anything from stealing data to encrypting a hard drive.
The latter, is known as ransomware. It will tell the victim it will destroy everything on the hijacked PC unless they pay a ransom, usually in bitcoins. If there’s no backup strategy in place, this could destroy a business.
A robust antivirus program is a good start, but you will also need a good firewall, as well as encryption on your network. Above all, you’ll need to be in the loop on the latest security threats and how to spot them.
You can conduct a basic virtual training or workshop to ensure they have the right security systems in place.
If your employees agree on it, IT administrators can even access devices remotely to diagnose security gaps. Some of the most critical areas to address are anti-malware software updates, password and email security, wireless connection settings, and network access control.
Employees should also be careful not to access suspicious websites and be aware of various phishing scams. A lot of work today is done on mobile devices, so inform your employees of the dangers of connecting to unsecured public wireless networks.
2. Data Sharing, Storage, And Backups
Likely, your company is already using more than one cloud-based storage option, SaaS solution, or web application for particular tasks. If you’re transferring operations to remote work for an indefinite time, this could be an excellent chance to expand your cloud toolbox.
There are multiple ways working in the cloud can help you keep data safe while working remotely.
Most cloud-based software service providers are under strict obligations to ensure data security. They have top-notch safety measures that are regularly updated and tested for breach and penetration. This takes a lot of worries and work off your hands.
Your data is centralised and encrypted, and many services offer alerts of suspicious activity on your account, such as breach attempts.
You have complete control over who has access to data. This reduces the margin for human error since changes are logged, and previous versions can be easily restored.
Data is backed up automatically, and multiple safety copies are created, which can be of vital importance in case of disasters, errors, or cyberattacks.
You may have already relied solely on email for communication, file exchange, and project updates. So you’ll be experience with how messy and complicated it can get. Emails can easily land in the wrong hands, and accounts fall prey to phishing scams.
Try to implement some new tools for communication, project management, data exchange, and collaboration. This will streamline your business operations. And it will also eliminate many worries about having your employees save vast amounts of confidential data across multiple devices.
3. PC Optimisation
Working in the cloud can help keep your data safe. There will, however, also be documents and files that your team members will work on locally or offline. Your employees need their PCs to work properly to do almost everything.
If files are stored locally, a computer crash in the middle of a project can have severe repercussions on your business.Data retrieval is time-consuming and expensive— not just as a process itself, but because you also suffer delays or loss of clients.
Your employees are working on their own devices, so you can’t control what programs they’re allowed to install. You also can’t control what websites they visit, and how vigilant they are about maintaining their equipment.
You can, however, empower them to keep their workstations safe and reliable.
Remind them to regularly update their operating systems and the software they use (work-related or not), as outdated versions are no longer patched against emerging security threats.
To help your employees speed up their PCs, make them aware of so-called “bloatware”. Computers come with lots of programs preinstalled. Some of them are necessary, like a preinstalled Microsoft Office suite, but others just slow the machine down because they hog all the resources.
Most of the bloatware can be simply uninstalled, and they often run services in the background that you might not use or need. Windows users can look up unnecessary processes and disable them using MSconfig. For example, you can close Bluetooth, fax, or printer support if you don’t use it.
A simple, but often overlooked advice is to lock your device when not using it. If employees are sharing their devices with family or team members, each user should create their own account, so they don’t interfere with each other’s files and settings.
The Final Word
During a crisis such as the COVID-19 lockdown, many remote employees will likely work on their own devices and connect to home networks. You cannot obtain complete control over how they work, but taking time to educate your team and provide support can go a long way in minimising risks remote workers are exposed to.
This will help them adjust to new working conditions and make their work easier. It will also help deflect potential disasters that could put your entire company in danger.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favourite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters
Founded in 2013, Zegal is the fastest growing LegalTech company operating across Asia Pacific and Europe. Today, business users and lawyers across the globe trust Zegal’s software to solve legal problems in an affordable and efficient way.
Zegal is led by a talented team of 60 employees and has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
Zegal has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, and Huffington Post, and was recently recognised in the South China Morning Post as an emerging LegalTech company in the artificial intelligence space.