Data Protection Measures for Remote Staff

In recent years, the world has witnessed an unprecedented number of employees transitioning out of the office and into remote ways of working. As employers everywhere embrace this ‘new normal’ style of working, they must also remain vigilant about their data protection policies, mitigating the risk of cyber threats and data breaches which could have lasting consequences for their business.

In this article, we will highlight some of the security risks posed to businesses as a result of remote operations and strategies they can implement to help keep them and their customers safe.

Remote Work Risks

Employees do not have access to the same security measures and technical infrastructure needed to prevent a data breach when they are outside of an office environment. This may include security protocols like IT support, firewalls, and secure networks that are standard in many office settings.

Without this protection, remote workers are at greater risk of placing sensitive company data into the hands of unauthorized individuals. Some of the data risks remote workers face include:

  • Unsecured networks: Remote workers often use unsecured networks, such as public WiFi, which are easier to intercept.
  • Personal devices: Remote workers may work from their personal laptops, phones, and other devices that lack the security features that office equipment has. 
  • Physical data loss: There is a greater risk of sensitive documentation being misplaced, lost or stolen when working remotely.

Employers should be aware of these risks when running a business and take steps to mitigate them.

Data Protection Measures

Businesses can safeguard their remote staff against the risk of a data breach by implementing the following measures:

Password Protection

Remote workers often use weak passwords that are unencrypted or no passwords at all, making them more vulnerable to a data breach. They may also use personal devices to perform their work duties which are also shared with other family members. The sharing of passwords on these devices also increases the risk of exposing sensitive information to unauthorized individuals.

Businesses should ensure remote staff are protecting their work devices and files with robust passwords.  This can be achieved through encryption software, password management tools and multi-factor authentication (MFA). This is particularly important for remote workers who may access company systems and files from various locations using networks, routers and modems which are outside the company’s direct control.

Training

Businesses can mitigate the risk of a data protection threat arising by training remote staff on best practices for secure remote work. This training should highlight how to spot a potential threat such as a phishing scam or malware and how to respond in the event of a breach. 

As remote workers are a common target for phishing attacks it is essential for businesses to educate their remote staff to defend themselves against this and other potential security threats.

Response Plan

A data breach response plan outlines the roles and responsibilities for identifying, containing, and responding to a data breach. By providing remote staff with this road map they can be more effective in minimizing the impact of a data breach should one arise.

By following the steps outlined,  businesses can protect their remote workers against a potential data breach, safeguarding their customers, reputation, and financial interests.


Interesting Related Article: “Data Protection 101 – A Guide