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Top Tips for Employees To Keep Data Safe When Working From Home

Thanks to the pandemic, millions of Americans who previously commuted to work now work remotely. This has caused employers to adopt new tools for collaboration, including video conferencing software for meetings and cloud-based tools to allow for collaboration on documents.

If your company has gone through this transition, it’s important to safeguard all that confidential, proprietary information, from data to passwords to contracts. It’s your responsibility to make sure your employees can stay secure while working from home. Even one year into the new normal, businesses are still honing processes to work remotely.

Remote working musts

Many of the policies you already have around digital security will still serve you well with employees working from home:

Communicate your security policy. Schedule a group video conference with your employees about your remote working security policy and expectations. Send follow-up emails to check in and see if they have any issues or questions. Conduct regular trainings and knowledge checks to drive the point home.

Use strong passwords. You’ll want your employees to use secure passwords for their computers, tablets and smartphones. Direct employees not to share their passwords or sensitive data with anyone.

Implement two-factor authentication. This process puts an added security check on the login process for emails and for sending sensitive documents.

Enforce a regular password change policy. Implement and enforce regular password change/update policy across the organization. This feature can be enabled on almost all popular mail servers and device management software. 

Control access to information. You’ll want to keep track of who has access to online company data and be sure to prevent access by employees when they leave the company.

Set guidelines for working with documents. Instruct employees not to save sensitive files from the cloud onto a computer used by others. Educate them on how they can password-protect documents that contain sensitive information.

Recommend and purchase antivirus software. Here’s hoping your employees are already protecting their computers, but if they’re not, this is the time to add security to their home devices and networks.

Trusting in the cloud

You’re likely storing a lot of data in the cloud:using applications, sharing documents, managing backups, and archiving all those video calls.

Cloud providers generally take security seriously, because it can be catastrophic for their own business if they leak customer data, but it’s still important to take your own steps to keep your data safe. Only work with cloud providers you trust based on experience or reputation.

Even with the strong security protocol of cloud providers, you should still be alert. If you must share passwords for company accounts, investigate business password management software that lets you distribute them securely, rather than through non-secure email or chat software.

Use any logging feature your cloud provider offers so you can look for suspicious patterns in access. When an employee leaves the company, you can deactivate their access easily.

Using a VPN

Connecting by virtual private network (VPN) can be a good option if you’re concerned about the security of your employees’ home networks. While most cloud software connects securely, it can still be a good idea to add another layer of protection through a VPN. A VPN encrypts data people send and receive, sending it through a secure tunnel, using all kinds of encryptions and protocols.

If you have employees connecting remotely to computers in your office, you can work with a VPN provider to set up a connection that lets them securely connect to your office systems and access files as if they were physically in the office. If you’re mostly using cloud systems, they may not need to connect to your office, but you can still use a commercial VPN product to further secure traffic as it makes its way through employees’ home networks. Shop around for a trusted product that offers good pricing for the number of employees you’ll have using it.

Rules to work by

It’s important to communicate with your employees about good online security practices when working from home and give them the tools they need to succeed.

Your work-from-home and data security policies should go hand in hand to make sure employees are safeguarding data, passwords and other sensitive information. 

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