How to Keep Your Data Secure While Employees Work From Home
In 2000, working from home was almost a foreign concept, with only 3.3% of Americans enjoying remote work. By 2017, it was a different story, with 8 million people, or 5.2% of U.S. workers, working from home. Today, that number only continues to grow, and with the dramatic effects of the coronavirus on the modern workplace, working from home has become a normal part of everyday life.
Improved technology paired with innovative software, lightning-fast internet speeds, and a higher demand for flexibility in the workplace have all contributed to the rise of remote work. Workers can spend less time commuting, and single parents who work from home may be able to balance childcare needs as well.
While many Americans are enjoying their newfound work environment, companies are scrambling to determine how to keep data secure under these new circumstances. With employees at home, it can be difficult to monitor and enforce safety protocols when it comes to company data.
In today’s workplace, there is an increased focus on how to maintain security when employees work remotely.
Separate Work and Personal Devices
One of the first matters a company must face with remote work is how to handle the use of devices. While it is tempting to have employees utilize their own personal devices while working from home, it can also create serious issues for your business in the long-term.
There are many reasons why it might be better to keep your work and personal devices separate. Affordability is one; companies may not want to pay for massive amounts of data that employees might use on personal traffic and downloads.
Privacy is another reason. For both the company’s sake and the employee, it is better to keep some matters private. Company data should not be available on personal devices that can be accessed by anyone, and personal data should not be accessible to your superiors and colleagues at work.
Some companies are even utilizing Samsung’s Knox technology to provide heightened security for company data. When the workday is done, you can seamlessly switch your phone from work mode to personal mode.
Provide Employees with VPN Access
Remote work does not always mean working from your actual home. There are plenty of positions that require heavy travel, which means employees are frequently working from hotels and airports. Other employees may not have a quiet, dedicated workspace at home, so they choose to work from a coffee shop or park.
It is important that no matter where your employees work, everyone can fully and securely access the company network. This is where access to a virtual private network (VPN) plays a crucial role in how to maintain security when employees work remotely.
Although it uses a public internet connection to provide connectivity, the entire network is kept secure and all of your work is encrypted, which is how your company business remains private. This is especially important for employees working in public places where many people are using the same internet connection. It also protects data from internet service providers who are able to access your usage.
A VPN provider can help companies set up a secure network that employees can use from anywhere while still providing heightened security and privacy protocols.
Employ Two-Factor Authentication
Also known as multi-factor authentication, two-factor authentication (2FA) is another way that companies can protect proprietary data. Popular companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter all offer this heightened technology to better protect the user log-in process.
In addition to your username and password, two-factor authentication employs the use of another verification process. This may include a fingerprint or face ID verification, or you may need to provide a code or one-time password that is sent to you via email, phone, or text.
Companies can also utilize hardware tokens or software tokens that are unique to the employee and allow secure access whenever the token is present. An example of a hardware token is a key fob, while a software token simply installs an application on your device.
Create Strong Passwords
Passwords are another way to keep data secure. When creating a new password, avoid using just letters. The strongest passwords feature not just a combination of letters and numbers but also special characters like commas, exclamation points, and percentage signs for a password that is entirely unique and near impossible to guess. A blend of upper and lower case letters is also recommended.
The longer and more complex your password, the more time and effort it should take a potential hacker to crack it.
Move Your Work To the Cloud
There is nothing worse than losing your work. When you store all of your data on your device, you risk losing everything if your device is ever lost, stolen, or broken. Cloud storage is just the tip of the iceberg for remote teams and workforces. Projects and teams fully operating in the cloud allow remote workers to enjoy the benefits of shared storage, computing power, and new technologies regardless of where they make their offices. Cloud-based computing can help companies better maintain security when employees work remotely.
Employees can benefit from the heightened security protocols that ensure you don’t have to worry about losing your work due to a power outage or a stolen laptop. When you work on a shared network, your colleagues and supervisors will also be able to access your work. This not only promotes collaboration and innovation in the cloud, but it can also improve overall efficiency, which is crucial when employees are working from home.
Employees can also enjoy increased mobility, giving the opportunity to access your work from anywhere, regardless of the internet connection you are using.
It is crucial to utilize the services of a legitimate and reliable cloud computing service for your company’s remote business operations. Moving to the cloud will not only give your provider access to your systems, but it is also building a new foundation for your business’s data.
Make Sure Your Employees Have Secure and Reliable Connections
There may be specific demands concerning minimum bandwidths or data usage that are needed to perform your job, particularly within the business, finance, and tech fields. However, not all employees may be able to accommodate these minimum tech requirements.
A poor internet connection can cause serious issues for your company’s efficiency. An employee’s inability to access a steady connection not only interrupts that person’s day, but it can also interrupt the productivity of the entire team if that person happens to be an integral part of the company, such as an office manager or manager.
A poor internet connection can leave room for hackers to access your network. With its inability to hold a steady connection, your devices may be unable to maintain standard security protocols and can leave them vulnerable.
A VPN and cloud-based network can significantly help reduce these risks by adding an extra layer of security. Some companies also offer a monthly stipend to help employees afford upgraded internet and data packages for faster, more reliable speeds.
Keep Employees Informed on Basic Security Practices
There are many things you can do to tighten your company’s security protocols, but it is increasingly important to share these measures with your staff. As your everyday users, those employees working from home need to be aware of not just the security risks that they face, but also the measures that they can take to protect themselves.
Your IT department can be instrumental in both sharing and demonstrating advanced security protocols your remote employees can use. Remote work puts an emphasis on technology, and that only serves to heighten the potential security risks that your company faces. By employing online data security measures, you can further ensure not only better protection but also enhanced productivity, no matter where your employees are working.