Digital security is something that needs to be carefully considered by anyone who is involved in remote working, whether that is the employer, client or the employees themselves. This includes those who occasionally work from home instead of commuting to the office, as accessing the business network remotely might lead to issues with security.
The trend for remote working is gaining popularity, due to the convenience and flexibility it brings, but this means that security concerns must be dealt with properly, and risks must be minimized if the full benefits are to be achieved. This year alone we’ve seen data breaches in the UK reveal customer details so it’s no surprise to see that identity theft numbers are rising year on year.
What are the risks?
The main concerns that companies have regarding remote working are employees not using best practice when it comes to security, engaging in risky behaviour, and the company’s own inability to enforce rules regarding security, as their workers are not on site.
Best practice would involve data encryption and password protection for any device being used, and ensuring that the company’s policy on remote working is followed at all times. Surveys have shown that significant numbers of people do not adhere to these practices consistently, and some employees even admitted to losing their electronic devices in a public place.
Regarding risky behaviour, work devices should ideally only be used for that purpose, and any personal use should be on a different device, but many employees use a single laptop or phone for everything. This is becoming increasingly common with the advent of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) initiatives, which saves the company money when it comes to purchasing computers, but has the disadvantage of reduced security. Using personal devices for work also reduces the likelihood of best practice by not having encryption or password protection.
Reducing the risks
There are a number of precautions that remote workers can take in order to reduce the risk of a data breach occurring. While use of the internet is almost certain to be a vital part of the job, public WiFi should always be avoided. A connection that is password protected is much less vulnerable to hacking and the resulting data theft. Any sharing permissions and Bluetooth connections should be switched off.
Before connecting to the internet, log into a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for an additional layer of security. This will ensure that all communication is encrypted. Passwords should be changed on a regular
The company employing remote workers needs to ensure that there is a clear data security policy in place, and this also needs to cover the BYOD initiative if it is used. Data encryption and