The work-from-home setup has been on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic happened. More employees, however, are now working remotely to contain the virus. Health experts recommend social distancing as one way to prevent the virus from spreading. That’s why many businesses who can operate remotely adopted the work-from-home setup to minimize their employees’ contact with other people.
Working from their homes is beneficial for many employees. They get to spend more time with their loved ones, and they don’t have to commute daily to go to their offices. For companies, however, they might be putting the privacy of their data at risk.
Impact of Working from Home on Data Privacy
Since the shift to remote working, most employees rely heavily on the internet to finish their tasks and online communication. This caused an increase in internet traffic. One of the issues that occurred from the situation is the surge in data privacy risks. Businesses should ensure that their IT infrastructures are secured and protected from potential data breaches.
Companies use office networks to prevent data loss or privacy risks. These networks have institutional protections, including firewalls, virtual private networks (VPN), whitelisted IP addresses, and anti-virus software. As employees do their work at home, they put the organization’s data at risk since not all home networks have such protections.
Many companies use cloud applications to store their data. Although the public cloud is safe, 63 percent are worried about data privacy and confidentiality. Having data backup on a hard drive can be helpful to make sure you don’t lose everything.
Moreover, 72 percent of organizations point out malware to be a top concern since employees work from home. Meanwhile, unauthorized or excessive access privileges are considered a threat for 72 percent of organizations.
Protecting Your Company’s Data During A Work-from-Setup
A data breach can leave a huge impact on your business. One of the most common results of a data breach is a significant revenue loss of more than 20 percent. Data breaches can also affect your brand reputation. You’ll likely lose your customers’ trust, knowing that their personal information is not safe with you.
Several factors, including security vulnerabilities, human error, and malware, can put your business at risk for data breaches. Stanford University, for instance, experienced a massive data breach where hackers leaked stolen data of members of the Stanford community, such as addresses, Social Security numbers, and financial information, among others. According to a report, the stolen data was obtained from a compromised file transfer system that Stanford Medicine used.
You can avoid such an incident by updating your IT systems, especially if your employees work remotely. Here are three ways to keep your data protected.
Create a cybersecurity policy
Everyone in your organization should know the importance of data security. Don’t assume that all your employees know about cybersecurity or their role in it. Some of them might not care about data security at all.
Establishing a policy regarding data security helps put everyone on the same page. Your team should know the purpose of the policy and expect them to comply. They should also take ownership in protecting the organization’s data, whether they work remotely or in the office.
Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication
Passwords are essential in protecting your company’s data. But many employees don’t take password safety seriously and use the same password for every device and program.
Providing your team members with password security training helps your employees’ knowledge of cybersecurity. The training should cover how to keep their passwords strong. You should also educate them about why they shouldn’t use the same password all the time.
Access to secured internet connections
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks can increase your company’s risk for data breaches. If your employees work from home, they should understand the importance of using a secured network to protect the company’s data.
Require your employees who are working remotely to use VPN before signing on to public Wi-Fi. The software will encrypt their internet traffic and check for any signs of infection.
Allowing your employees to work remotely to protect them from COVID-19 is a responsible move for a company. Doing so comes with advantages and disadvantages for both employees and employers. Your organization should be prepared for any consequences this setup brings, like compromising your company’s data privacy.
Ensure your data is protected even if your team members are working remotely by assessing your current IT management system and upgrading them so that they meet your needs. Educating your employees about the importance of your cybersecurity is also essential to keep your data protected.