It is crucial to ensure data safety regardless of work location. Source: Shutterstock

It is crucial to ensure data safety regardless of work location. Source: Shutterstock

Safety first – Protecting enterprise data while telecommuting

Once a seeming privilege for only the most favored workers, telecommuting – also known as operating remotely from outside the workplace – has become a commonplace practice in the aftermath of the global pandemic.

Indeed, over the past year or so telecommuting has become a necessity for many enterprises that want to stay afloat and productive. Working from distributed locations has become something of a norm, one that is gaining great momentum in the business world.

One of the greatest advantages of telecommuting is that it provides employees with location flexibility, enabling them to work from wherever that is safest, yet maximizes efficiency. However, with this flexibility comes heightened concerns of data security, as there is no longer an assurance that confidential data is being safely kept and transmitted over an organization’s own secure network.

After all, the security of this data might be compromised when an employee is working in a local café over a Wi-Fi network that has poor security credentials. A breach in data security can be devastating. Therefore, business leaders should take action to ensure that the data they possess is protected, regardless of work location.

Elementary telecommuting data protection

The first step to doing so is to establish a cybersecurity policy. From C-suites to the employees, it must be made clear that data security should be prioritized and is paramount. Businesses cannot assume that their employees know what their responsibilities are in upholding cybersecurity. Therefore, the policy document must be as exhaustive as possible.

At the very least, it should outline the security protocols that employees are to comply with, and also ways that the company can support them in complying, such as the tools and resources that is provided. At the end of the document, there must also be a place for employees to sign their commitment to adhere to the policy.

Regardless of work location, all employees must be required to sign the policy. With this, everyone across the organization will understand what is expected of them, and also the consequences of non-compliance. This will help them take full ownership in protecting company data.

Securing data while telecommuting does not have to be complicated. One of the easiest, yet most crucial way to do so is by ensuring that passwords are strong and varied. Employees must first be educated on the importance of strong passwords, and how to create them.

However, this will eventually lead to too many passwords for different programs, making password management a challenge. One solution to this is to utilize a password manager, which can both store and generate unique passwords.

Finally, to reinforce data security, a two-factor authentication(2FA) can be used on top of passwords. A 2FA is an extra layer of security that is added after a user is being prompted for his username and password. An extra piece of information would be used to further confirm a user’s identity, and this might be in the form of a PIN sent to their cell phone, or as an answer to a ‘secret question’.

Should a company require extra data protection, however, there is also the option of multi-factor authentication. The additional verification required might include biometrics such as voice or retina recognition. Whilst tedious and costly to implement, it might be worth it if highly sensitive data are being handled daily.

Data is the foundation on which business organizations today are built upon. It is a business’s most prized possession, and its security should not be taken lightly. It must be acknowledged that the weight of protecting data falls on the shoulders of both the employee and the employer.

By ensuring that data is private and safe regardless of geographical regions, businesses will flourish. This will ultimately benefit all parties, and also the customers.