The remote work setup has become mandatory for many companies because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the development of COVID vaccines, many business owners and commercial real estate owners predict that remote employees will be coming back to their offices soon. This is a safe assumption.
But most employees actually prefer working remotely. In a Pew Research Center survey, 54% of the 6,000 respondents said they’d rather work from home if given a choice. Only 11% said they’d want to work remotely rarely or never. And the majority can’t really be blamed. Remote work has many benefits, such as flexible time, no more commuting, and work-life balance.
It’s best to acknowledge early that employees will probably remain working from home even after the pandemic. Both business owners and employees will need to ensure that all work-related data are secure.
What Employers Need to Do
Encrypt All Devices
Remote work means employees can take their work device at home or anywhere they want to work. And this freedom of location can be risky. To safeguard all work devices, business owners must ensure all of them are encrypted. Ideally, they should go for full disk encryption. But another approach they can take is individual encryption. This means each folder or file will be encrypted individually. And all folders and files will have their own passcodes.
Each operating system has its built-in encryption program. For example, there’s Microsoft BitLocker for Windows and Apple FileVault for Mac OS. There are also third-party encryption programs that businesses can use.
VPN or virtual private network is a security tool. It creates a tunnel between a device and a public network, like the internet. A VPN prevents malicious parties from accessing any device connected to a public network. Employers must have a VPN installed in all work devices, whether they work from home or not. VPNs add an extra layer of security.
Use Find My Device
An employee may accidentally misplace their laptop or have their work device stolen from them. Any of these instances can result in a security data breach. To prevent this, business owners must ensure that the Find My Device program in each work device is activated. This way, if an employee does lose their work device, it can be easily located and even remotely blocked to avoid other people from accessing it.
Prohibit Use of Personal Devices
When employees work from home, they might be tempted to use their personal devices for work. For example, maybe it’s because they’re more comfortable using their personal devices. For example, maybe someone needs to do a presentation in a meeting. So they will only bring their own tablet PC for easy mobility, instead of their much heavier work laptop. Or maybe they need to transfer a huge file. So they will use their own USB drive to store and share that file.
But using a personal device at work has data risks. Thus, business owners should constantly remind their employees to only use work devices for work. If huge files need to be transferred, use the work cloud instead of flash drives for better security.
What Employees Need to Do
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Employees may want to take their work outside. But that means connecting to a public WiFi, which is dangerous. For example, public, unsecured connections make man-in-the-middle attacks possible. A hacker can put itself in the middle of one’s device and the connection point, and they’ll be able to read the data sent from one point to another.
This is where using a VPN becomes crucial. Employees who have no choice but to connect to a public Wi-Fi should enable their VPN at all times.
Block Any Line of Sight
If employees work in a coworking space or a coffee shop, they need to block all sightlines. They don’t know who might be peeking at their laptops while they work. This can also be a data breach. Thus, an employee should work in a corner with their monitor facing the wall if they’re working in a public area.
Also there may be times that employees will be working on the go. Perhaps they’ll be using their laptop while on the road. And people outside might see the monitor and chance upon confidential information, say, during a traffic jam. Thus, employees should consider going to a window tinting room to have their car windows tinted if they aren’t already.
Remote work provides many benefits to both business owners and employees. But both parties need to remember that working remotely comes with security risks. And they need to do what they can to keep everything secure.