Does your small business rely on a virtual workforce? Whether it is staffers who clock in from homes occasionally, or employees scattered across the state, remote work is a rising trend. The polling agency Gallup recently conducted a survey of more than 15,000 adults about work-from-home opportunities and discovered that 43 percent of employed individuals spent some time working remotely. However, having a flex workforce presents special challenges relating to the integrity of business data.
When your company allows telecommuting for work, it still has the same responsibility to secure sensitive data (both structured and unstructured) as any other firm. And depending on the industry you’re in, you may also have to abide by certain legal acts, like HIPAA compliance. In addition, you also need to ensure that any proprietary data doesn’t end up in the hands of rival businesses.
The underpinning barrier behind all this is, of course, the threats, which span from robbery of unencrypted mobile devices to spoofing of business data. According to Apricorn’s research, 48 percent of surveyed businesses labeled staffers as their main security risk, and 1 in 10 organizations with over 3,000 personnel are missing a security strategy that covers BYOD and remote working. This makes the case that security of data in a remote working environment should be a high priority for any company.
With that in mind, here’s what you can do to protect your data in a remote working environment:
1. Ask Employees to Protect Devices
Malicious software that steals company data often injects itself into a PC through a website or email. In case of mobile devices, it penetrates the operating system via a third-party app. To prevent malware infections, employees should be asked to install the best security software and adopt proper device practices. They should also be informed about the benefits of using a cloud service provider; in most cases, they maintain a high level of security by using data encryption technology.
For businesses that have already suffered data loss in a remote working environment, forensic data recovery services are available. While the type of data that can be accessed and recovered by a device depends upon several different factors, the service provider is usually able to recover the following with ease: photos, emails, deleted messages, web browsing history, documents, chat application messages, and SMS messages.
2. Develop a Strict Policy for Information Sharing
In a remote working environment, it is not uncommon for employees to use highly insecure methods to transfer confidential documents. In the process, employees circumvent IT protocols, turning to sanctioned methods like third-party collaboration, social media networks and instant messaging. This is bound to increase the risk of data theft unless strict guidelines are enforced for information saving and sharing.
Your flex workers may also use hard disks and flash drives for file transfers. Unfortunately, if they lose the device, they put your business in significant danger. Therefore, it’s essential to have a policy that dictates where, when and how file sharing will take place. Additionally, FTP and other similar solutions can help lock down permissions.
3. Encourage Two-Factor Authentication
This requires both a password and an extra layer of authentication, like an IP address or a numerical code, before access is granted. In addition to a password, SSH-key authentication can make user access easier to manage, regardless of the number of employees connecting to servers. Because remote workers use a variety of connections, two-factor authentication can safeguard company data.
As your small business things about how to strengthen the security of its business data, consider the benefits of integrating a file transfer solution that includes a robust management interface for configuring authentication via SSH keys. It’s also best if backup access is granted to IT administrators working inside the office.
With these tips, you’d be able to safeguard company data while maintaining a remote working policy.