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Keeping Data And Systems Secure With A Remote Workforce

Jun 19, 2020
Posted by: Stearns Bank

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working was on the rise.

Flexible hours and no commute time for the employee, combined with decreased overhead costs and increased productivity for the business owner, seemed to be the perfect fit.

The experience of many employees suggests increasing adoption of telework. Three in five employees say they are willing to make it a permanent solution, according to a recent survey. And employers are open to the change.

However, before making this change permanent, employers must take precautions to protect their business, company information, and employees from unauthorized access.

3 Steps to Creating Digital Protection

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, businesses that have employees in the areas of sales, data entry, accounting, customer support, software developers, and computer & information systems analysts make up a large segment of remote staff.

With so many employees willing and able to work remotely, it’s essential to create a solid plan that provides support for your employees and protection for your business.

Step 1 – Develop remote work policies that define acceptable use of devices (personal or company-provided), explain security requirements for devices and work areas and require employees to set automatic security updates and follow company password policies.

Include expectations and protocols for remote workers and guidelines for secure information sharing. It’s important that your employees review and sign off on the policy.

Step 2 – Educate and provide security training. Without the protection provided by in-office systems, remote workers may need additional training and safeguards. Using personal devices and relying on home internet can provide unique challenges.

If you’re using personal devices such as laptops or cell phones, remind workers not to use personal email for sensitive customer/client information, change passwords frequently, avoid unsecure public wi-fi and encrypt email and stored company data. Company-owned devices should have security and encryption systems installed.

Most security breaches are unintentional. In fact, more than 90 percent of cyber data breaches are attributed to human error such as rushing and not reading thoroughly. If your business does not have an IT person, hire an IT company to review your current cybersecurity situation and to provide ongoing training and support to all employees.

Step 3 – Invest in security tools. Spend the money to provide the computers, phones and support to remote employees. Personal computers doubling as work computers are less likely to have the security needed to protect company information.

By providing equipment, you can control the level of protection and methods of secure file sharing for projects and paperwork.

Utilizing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can provide your business with an added layer of protection. It usually requires a two-factor authentication, meaning the user must provide a password and then a secure code before accessing the device.

Your Business – Protected and Secure

Home offices can be as varied as the number of remote employees using them. However, all should share the same features to protect your business – a device with security software and secure platforms installed for videoconferencing, emails and file sharing.

A secure company network offers another level of authentication to prevent unauthorized access.

As a small business owner, your customer and company data are gold. However, that makes it a target for thieves, more specifically cyber criminals. Creating a successful remote environment is possible with well-defined policies, effective training and secure networks to protect your business while employees work from home.

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