Employees are most vulnerable to data dangers when they’re working outside of the office as opposed to in it. The added distractions of these unprecedented times only add to the dangers remote employees face. It’s all-too-easy to mindlessly open a phishing email when you’re balancing household duties or trying to keep your school-age children entertained.
A data threat is the last thing any small business needs, especially now. To ensure you’re keeping your newly remote workforce safe, there are a few security measures you can put in place.
Make Sure Your Employees Have What they Need
For many companies, this is the first time employees have been asked to do their jobs from home. Ensure that your employees have updated, reliable mobile and desktop devices, and install the latest antivirus software. A surprising number of Americans do not have reliable internet access, so help your remote employees find a secure connection. If not, they may end up seeking out free public wifi, which puts your data at serious risk.
Keep Software Programs Updated
If software programs aren’t updated with “patches” regularly, hackers can find even the smallest of cracks in their security. Some of the biggest data breaches ever, especially in the healthcare and financial industries, were due to patient software or banking applications not being updated…in some cases, for years! If you have an IT team, ask them to remote into your employees’ computers to perform any updates that may be needed.
Use the Cloud
All employee work should be saved to the cloud, not to a computer or piece of removable storage. Removable storage is all too easy to get lost or stolen. Meanwhile, a power outage, an internet loss, or even a spilled drink can render a laptop…and its data…useless. When work is saved to the cloud, it can at least be backed up or accessed from alternative devices.
Create a Secure Connection with a VPN
A VPN, or virtual private network, helps keep business data secure. Whether remote employees are using a personal device for work (which you should discourage as much as you can) or a company-owned device, require them to connect to a VPN. This keeps any valuable data encrypted when it is in transit. Our IT team has helped install countless VPNs for organizations, not only to keep data safe, but also to keep employees connected.
Have a Data Security Policy
This is something your organization should have whether you’re composed of a remote workforce or not. Employees should not be expected to follow rules that they do not know exist. A data security policy should consist of password requirements (character limits, two-factor authentication, etc.), update requirements, email best practices, restrictions on downloads and certain website content, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) regulations, public wi-fi restrictions, and more. Knowing which rules to have in place can be overwhelming, which is why we are glad to help your organization put a plan together.
KDG Is Here to Help Protect Your Business and Its Data
We understand these are trying times for businesses around the country and around the world. Please know that we remain open and our IT and cybersecurity team is ready to assist you with any of your questions, concerns, or needs. Whether you need help with software upgrades or would like a team to keep your newly remote employees safe from data threats, we’re available to lend a hand.
Kyle David is the President and CEO of KDG. He has navigated the dynamic intersection of technology and business, advising both leaders and organizations, from Fortune 25 companies and professional sports leagues to innovative technology startups.