In each and every scenario involving some kind of benefits, there’s a certain trade-off. With the amount of work that is being performed remotely increasing by the day, we are quick to embrace all the benefits that come with this new and flexible type of workspace, but it does impose a certain number of challenges as well. 

Sure, a location-flexible work environment is a great advantage, but with the practice of working remotely becoming the standard, the issue of data security also grows as one of the main concerns. As a huge chunk of employees now work from their own devices, it comes as no surprise that numerous business executives fear that remote staff ups an organization’s risk of experiencing data security breaches. 

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Both the employees and company leaders must realize that they carry an equal burden of accountability and must make sure they understand the potential repercussions of security attacks and stolen or deleted data. They must work together to come up with optimal solutions for these challenges and stick to them consistently.

That said, let’s see what companies can do to keep employer data protected. 

Have a strong cybersecurity policy 

Start by creating a solid cybersecurity policy that is optimized for your unique company systems and be sure to ask all your – both existing and new – staff members to read, closely examine and sign it. 

Your cybersecurity policy should also cover the following points:

  • why you have a policy in the first place
  • all details regarding different security protocols that you and your staff is expected to be in compliance with
  • how your business will support these protocols with regard to compliance (think about the resources, tools and platforms necessary, etc)

All company employees, as well as the leaders, should be asked to take ownership in keeping the data safe and protected by having an established policy in place and adhering to the rules imposed. If you have both types of employees – those who work remotely and the employees who work in your physical offices – make sure that they are all on the same page in terms of what is expected from them.

Build a solid data governance strategy 

Each and every company that deals with any amount of sensitive and/or consumer data must have an effective data governance plan in place. Only with a good strategy on how to gather, process, store and manage data, can one reach proper levels of data privacy and security. 

To achieve this, you should make sure that your teams and individual staff members have a firm grasp of the following: 

  • how all data – company’s and consumers’ – is divided into types and why
  • the exact ways in which this data is gleaned 
  • how/where data is managed and stored
  • how long data needs to be retained 

Also, do not forget that your data management plan should cover all the potential issues in terms of email-based data, especially data of personal nature. Emailing platforms carry vast amounts of sensitive data and it is recommended that companies automate email security, archiving and retention processes. This can be done by including email archiving solutions and devising solid email retention policies. 

Use two-factor authentication

With the evolution of the cloud computing landscape, more and more businesses are starting to use two-factor authentication in order to improve their data security. The two-factor authentication method requires the user to provide two layers of authentication:

  • First, it asks the user to insert the correct username and password
  • Second, it asks for another piece of data (it can be a PIN verification code, an answer to a secret question, etc)

For certain channels of communication, passwords are simply not enough. They can be compromised, so incorporating 2FA is highly recommended as it provides an additional layer of security. 

Don’t forget about firewalls, antivirus software and anti-malware

You should make sure that all your remote and non-remote employees have proper and updated security-focused software – firewalls, antivirus software and anti-malware – and to have them properly installed on all the devices they use for business operations. 

Some organizations use software for remote wiping of devices for high-risk scenarios like a device being lost or stolen. These portable device management platforms are quite useful as they enable remote employees to continue to use their own devices for work without putting company data safety in danger.

If your staff requires assistance in ensuring that their devices have all the necessary security layers installed, you should be able to offer technical support help. 

Modern businesses must invest in having a proper and effective customer data management plan in place, especially if they have employees who work remotely. Security, though not the most fun aspect of running a company, should be among your top priorities. Keep in mind that thoroughness and consistency are critical for staying secure and safe from potentially reputation-shattering data breaches.