A Guide For Your Remote Workers To Keep Customer Data Safe
By Jordan MacAvoy Posted June 27, 2020
A report by Shred-It's 2018 established that 86% of business managers believe that remote workers pose a considerable threat to a company's likelihood of being hacked. Both company leaders and their employees are responsible for the security of an organization's information. The first step in ensuring customer data safety is to educate employees on the importance of data security and the measures they should take to protect customer data. Here are some guidelines that your company can use to secure customer data.
Develop a Cybersecurity Policy
Many employees do not take data security seriously when they are not working directly with customer data. Some employees even assume that those working at upper levels in the company are the ones who should be concerned about data security. To address ignorance among employees and set the record straight, organizations should establish a cyber-security policy.
Your organization should impress upon all of its employees the importance of data security by having them review and sign the company's cybersecurity policy. The policy should be acknowledged by all employees regardless of whether they are working remotely or not. The policy should include the motivation for having a policy and highlight various security protocols that employees should comply with and the tools and resources that will help them commit to these protocols. The policy should also include a place for employees to sign to show their dedication to the policy.
Insist On Secure Internet Connections
One of the main ways of endangering a company's data security is logging into an unsecured internet connection. Many employees cherish the freedom of working away from the office in the serene environment of a coffee shop or some other recreational joint where there is a Wi-Fi connection. These Wi-Fi connections are accessible by many people and are one of the vulnerabilities that cybercriminals use to find their way into your organization's network.
It is essential to educate your employees on how to keep the organization's information secure when they are working remotely. One of the easiest security measures your employees can take is to use a virtual private network before logging into public Wi-Fi networks. A virtual private network (VPN) will encrypt the remote worker's internet traffic and keep track of any malicious activities. This way, remote workers can work remotely, and you are confident your company's data is safe.
Create Awareness on Phishing Attacks
Many cybercriminals gain access to a company's data through phishing attacks. Phishing emails and websites target large companies and are addressed to look like they come from one of the senior authorities in a company. Some appear to come from an insurance company, credit union, or bank associated with the company. It is easy for remote workers to fall prey to these attacks and enter sensitive information.
For example, a remote worker may receive an email saying, "Here are the details of this month's payment details" with a link directing them to a website. The website will be identical to their bank's login page. After entering their password, harmful software will be transmitted to the company's network. Generally, it would be best if you educated your employees on phishing attacks. They should be warned against opening, clicking, or responding to suspicious links.
Another way to secure your organization's customer data is through password safety. Many people use the same password for all their devices and programs. Company employees should be trained on password security.
First, you should educate your employees on the basics of keeping passwords secure and why they should not use the same password repeatedly. The other way to reduce the risk of a security breach is by using a password manager. This manager generates passwords automatically and stores all the passwords safely. This way, employees do not need to keep recalling different passwords for different programs, and company data remains safe and uncompromised.
Many organizations use two-factor authentication to ensure additional security of their data. 2FA is a method where a user confirms their identity by entering a username and password. The user is then prompted to enter some other piece of information to prove their identity. This may be a security question or a pin that is sent to their mobile phone.
Since passwords can be easily compromised, the chances of a person being able to answer your security question or having a pin sent to your phone are next to none. Some companies apply multi-factor authentication where a user is further required to verify their identity through biometrics like voice, retina, or fingerprint recognition. It would be best if you considered two-factor and multi-factor authentication to secure you when passwords are compromised.
The use of encryption software is one way your company and remote workers can be safe from cybercriminals. While switching the "Find My Device" mode on can help locate a stolen or misplaced device, extra precaution must be taken if the device contains sensitive information. Apart from turning on the "Find My Device" feature, you should impress upon your employees the need to enable automatic wiping of lost or stolen devices.
Encryption software can secure sensitive information by preventing unauthorized users from handling stolen devices. Apart from educating your staff on how to use encryption software, you need to ensure they use programs and applications that have end-to-end encryption. Programs like Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office can encrypt documents that your remote workers use with coworkers.
Updating Operating Systems, Anti-Virus, and Other Software Programs
When a security threat is identified, it takes over two months to resolve it. This leaves you vulnerable for a significant amount of time. It is important to get security patches regularly and to make sure you turn on automatic updates on your device.
Many people consider these updates to be costly and a waste of time. However, these updates ensure you are protected from the latest security threats. It is crucial to impress upon your employees the need to update their devices' operating system and software for increased data security. Like operating systems and software, firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-malware software should be updated regularly.
Security While Commuting
It is essential to educate your employees on the need to be careful when working remotely, especially if they are traveling. First, to ensure company data is secure while commuting, employees should never leave their digital devices unattended. Moreover, everything that contains company data should be kept in a safe place.
Additionally, employees must be instructed on the need to be discreet with their conversations. If speaking about client data, employees must be advised to conduct conversations in a private area to avoid being overheard. Last but not least, employees should avoid sending information over public Wi-Fi in a train station or airport unless they are doing it through a VPN.
Cybersecurity is all about the protection of information that can be accessed through the internet by cybercriminals. In this digital age, many people work remotely. While security breaches can happen while employees are at the office, there is a high likelihood of a company being hacked when their employees are working remotely.
Many employees throw caution out of the window when they walk out the office oblivious of the huge threat of being breached when working remotely. To ensure customer data is secure, organizations should develop a cyber-security policy and educate employees about using secure connections and identifying phishing attacks. It is also essential to educate your workforce about strong passwords, two-factor authentication, encryption software, updating software programs, and commuting safety practices.