22nd June 2018
Many companies are choosing to offer flexible working policies, which is hardly surprising considering that the ability to work remotely or during hours of their own choosing makes a job more attractive to three quarters of employees in the United Kingdom. However whether your people are working from home, Starbucks, or a shared co-working space, ensuring your data is protected is more challenging than ever before.
Although high profile data breaches make the headlines, worryingly, it’s smaller businesses who are more at risk from attacks by cyber criminals and hackers. You might not think your company facts and figures are of much interest to a bedroom hacker – but the ransom you’ll pay to get it back might well be. Ransomware and malware are designed to wreak havoc on your systems – and your reputation. Financial and legal problems are a very real knock-on effect of a data breach too.
Whether issues stem through staff working on a shared, unsecured network or are due to the loss of a smartphone, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect your business. Here’s how to ensure you have the best line of defence against unscrupulous third parties.
Protecting the devices used by staff is an obvious first step. Malware is usually distributed through links and attachments on compromised web pages and via email. Banning employees from using their personal inbox and browsing non-work related sites is nigh on impossible to enforce, therefore making sure that all devices have security software installed – and that includes phones – is vital. You also need to make sure that software is updated when a new version is released and that security patches are kept up-to-date. Consider installing remote-wipe apps and/or whole-disk encryption software too so if an employee loses their phone or laptop, an unauthorized party can’t access any of its data.
Check in with your staff to see how secure their passwords are. They should be strong and unique – you’ll be surprised how many people use some variation of 123456 or Password123! Crucially they shouldn’t be using the same password for each log in. A password management tool can help create one-off and impossible-to-guess passwords, and will securely store them too.
Using the Cloud is a good practice to get into. Employees can access and share everything from email and calendars to office applications and documents. This eliminates the issues caused by losing physical documents and paperwork while working remotely or on the go. Plus Cloud service providers are far better equipped to defend stored data than the average SMB’s IT guy!
Finally, you need to impress upon your employees the need for security, and HR departments would be well advised to create a checklist for staff to adhere to before implementing a training session for all employees. Consider making this part of your onboarding for future employees too.
It might seem like a hassle, but, as the old cliché quite rightly says – ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry!’