Data security pitfalls
By: George Owen 13th July 2017

Working from Home: Data Security Pitfalls to Avoid

As more and more jobs become more flexible, and digital connectivity becomes faster and easier, remote working is becoming ever more commonplace in the modern workplace. But while all the reports of working on the beach and increased job satisfaction are great, there is one major downside to working from home and that’s data security.

Shockingly, nearly a third of organisations surveyed in a recent study said that they had experienced a data breach as a direct result of remote working. Despite this, the majority of companies said that they had no official strategy or protocol for ensuring data was kept safe by remote workers.

If you’ve just recently started working from home or you’re a remote pro, here are some pitfalls to avoid to make sure both you and your company stay safe.

Using Unlocked Devices

Okay, so we’re starting simple!

It sounds obvious, but if you’re using any device to access or store sensitive data, then make sure it’s equipped with a lock, preferably an automatic one that kicks in after a certain amount of time the device is left idle.

Use strong passwords to unlock your devices, or biometrics (like fingerprint scanners) if possible as they are harder to crack. This won’t stop the most determined of hackers, but it’s one more barrier for them to overcome.

Using Out-of-Date Antivirus Software

If you installed antivirus software on your laptop a while ago, you might think that’s all you need to do, but there are frequent updates and patches you’ll need to download and install to ensure your antivirus software is working at its full capacity.

In fact, the huge WannaCry virus breach that hit thousands of companies worldwide (including the NHS!) was able to take hold so quickly due to the fact that the systems it was attacking had not been been updated.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that using lots of different antivirus programs is better than using just one, either. Installing more than one software can mean that they work against each other; install the best one that you can find, make sure you update it frequently, and it should go a long way towards keeping you safe.

Forgetting About Encryption

Unfortunately, antivirus software isn’t always enough. If you work with very sensitive data, such as the personal or financial details of customers, or you might be at a higher risk of hacking due to the nature of your work, it’s a good idea to invest in some encryption software to keep your work truly safe.

You could also set up a Virtual Private Network – or VPN – with your employer to give you secure access to the data you need without ever having to store it on your device or access it over an unsecure connection.

Not Communicating

As we mentioned before, a surprising amount of organisations have no clear policy when it comes to protecting data with their remote workers. If the company you work for hasn’t broached this subject with you yet, it can be worthwhile taking the initiative.

You could ask that they pay for the best encryption software or suggest installing a remote-wipe app on your device should it be lost or stolen (depending, of course, on whether or not this is something you’re comfortable with). Being open and clear about how you’re protecting their data while you work from home will not only put you in their good books, but will also limit your accountability if you have proof you were using best practice should anything happen.

Not Protecting Yourself

As we said before, even following all these steps may not be enough to ward off the most persistent hackers – huge companies with the highest quality security can still get hacked, after all. If you’re really worried, or you just don’t want to take any chances, you can always take out a digital insurance policy. Rather than insuring your hardware, digital insurance is there to protect you in the event of lost files or cyber attack, and can be instrumental in mitigating the financial effects of a breach.

If you have any other data security tips to share, we’d love to hear them. Please drop us a line via our contact form and we’ll add them to this guide.