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Pandemic Sent Your Workers Home? Reminders for Best Data Security Practices

Deborah Kish April 2, 2020
Cybersecurity Data breach Data security Insider threat Print security Privacy Secure collaboration

Overnight, companies across the globe were forced into a fully remote workforce.  If you are prepared, under the best of circumstances, it can still be a challenge, but if you are not, the challenges are even greater and some things can potentially fall through the cracks.  People working from home can lead to a few unintended bad habits. With business continuity being the priority, data is even more at risk as hackers and thieves see opportunity when your guard is down.

For companies that don’t have tools in place, and for that matter, those that don’t have the right tools in place, here are some things you can do while ensuring the health of your employees, and your business stays on track.

  • Reiterate document handling policies – remind workers creating documents of data classification schemes and to encrypt whenever possible for sensitive data.  When in doubt, encrypt.
  • Remind your work at home staff of your security awareness training (SAT) (if you have a program in place) – there have been lots of reports of phishing and other types of scams going on because bad people are will take advantage of the population when vulnerable.  Ensure your employees know how to identify these things, whether you have programs in place or not.
  • Data sharing across email – it is always best practice to remind workers that care be taken when sending email with unprotected documents attached – double check who is in the “To” and that appropriate protection is applied to what is being sent
  • Working in cloud applications –  the clogged and slow internet may have some workers pulling documents out of the application to work on locally.  And for the sake of expedience, some of these documents may be sent through email (see previous comment), shared on a video conferencing application, or remain on the local drive or in a folder, exposed to theft from outsiders.
  • Ensure your Wifi has a strong password and that your computers have anti-virus software installed – for the unprepared, some workers may be working on their personal laptops or desktops, may not have a VPN, may not have renewed the free anti-virus software installed, because “that will never happen to me”, and may not have created a strong Wifi password when first setting up their internet connection.  Now might be the time to ask them to change passwords and check licenses on security software.
  • Printing – discourage printing sensitive information on home printers. While there isn’t much you can do to prevent this and foster secure printing, discouraging workers from printing sensitive documents locally and encouraging them to work in the applications.  Besides, it is good for the environment (save a tree).

While all of these might seem motherhood and apple pie, they are just good reminders at a time when things happen so fast.  Fasoo and I wish everyone health and safety during these unsettling times.

Photo by Kate