Working remotely is more popular than ever. While it can be an effective alternative to a traditional office setting, home-based work poses new challenges for maintaining data security and protecting customer privacy. Learn how companies and remote team members can ensure information remains private.
Table of Contents
1. Adequate Training for Employees
Starting off on the right foot is essential to maintain reliable cybersecurity practices. That means equipping employees with the tools they need from their first day on the team to their last.
When hiring new remote workers, ensure their onboarding sessions include the proper procedures for handling customer data. They should learn to use secure software and relevant systems, encrypt data as necessary, and identify phishing attacks or other social engineering scams.
Continue training throughout an employee’s tenure. Regular refresher courses ensure everyone is updated on the latest rules and processes, protecting customer data across the board.
2. Implement Access Controls
Another key to protecting customer data is limiting who has access to it, even within your organization. Limit it to a need-to-know basis depending on each individual’s role and responsibilities.
Remote work is largely based online, and working with so many files requires extra protection. Multifactor authentication (MFA) ensures that only approved users can access the information they need. Encryption and high-security passwords on all devices and accounts also deter unauthorized access.
3. Use Secure Remote Connections
Remote employees often work from home, but many opt to spend a few hours at the library or a local coffee shop each week. However, public Wi-Fi networks can pose a threat to customer data privacy. Anyone can hack into these systems and steal user information.
Remind employees to use secure networks at all times when handling sensitive data. Using VPNs and updating the software regularly ensures protected communications.
4. Strengthen Your Endpoint Security
Endpoints are any physical entryways into a network, such as computers, laptops, smartphones and servers. These devices offer bad actors access to your system if hacked, stolen or otherwise compromised.
Remote work means many devices connected to your system are out of the office and out of sight, making endpoint security even more important. A recent study showed nearly 25% of employees who work from home don’t know their machine’s security protocols. Don’t be part of that statistic — ensure everyone is familiar with the right processes in case of attacks.
Boost your remote security with antivirus software and anti-malware protections. Allow for automatic updates to prevent vulnerabilities wherever your employees are.
5. Collaborate on Secure Cloud Tools
Finding ways to work as a team is an essential part of remote work. Collaboration with teammates online requires specific precautions to protect customer privacy. Be sure to choose reputable service providers for communications and data storage in the cloud.
Always encrypt sensitive data before uploading it and limit permissions to reduce access on a need-to-know basis.
6. Frequently Encrypt and Back up Data
Data encryption helps guarantee private customer data stays private. Keep information — sensitive or otherwise — out of the wrong hands by encrypting it with reliable techniques and using regular backup procedures.
Test your processes regularly to ensure they work — you don’t want to learn about an issue with your backups after a server crashes.
7. Monitor and Control Access
If much of your team works remotely, they may be online at different times and on various networks. Keep track of who accesses your organization’s system. Detecting possible unauthorized intrusions can prevent minor leaks and major hacks.
Look for suspicious activity. Even if an authorized access attempt is unsuccessful, it can tell you who is trying to get into your system and what they’re looking for. Catching these intrusions early is a crucial preventive measure.
8. Conduct Regular Security Assessments
Just as you perform regular security checks in the office, conduct frequent remote security assessments. Look for vulnerabilities in your network software and physical endpoints, like the devices remote workers use daily.
Assess compliance among your team — make sure they’re following the proper security procedures. This vigilance allows you to remediate potential issues before they become serious threats.
9. Prepare Incident Response Plans
Be prepared for any scenario. If an incident does occur that puts customer data at risk, you don’t want your remote team to be scrambling. Define each employee’s responsibilities so they can take clear action immediately.
Regularly test and update your response plans for all scenarios. A little extra training goes a long way when customer privacy is on the line.
10. Stay Updated on the Latest Cybersecurity Developments
Privacy laws and security best practices change frequently as technology develops at a rapid pace. When customers provide an organization with their data, they trust you to stay updated on relevant risks and regulations. Remote workers have a responsibility to ensure compliance.
If you want to compete in the digital world, you’ll go above and beyond to reassure customers that you’re doing the best job possible to protect their data and privacy. Stay in the loop about the latest threats and security solutions.
11. Foster a Culture of Trust and Privacy
An organization doesn’t need a traditional office to develop a positive company culture. Fostering a secure environment while working remotely requires clear communication and goals. Remote work teams can successfully protect employee and customer data with the right safeguards in place.
Encourage open communication and cultivate a privacy-conscious mindset throughout the team. Get feedback from employees — and learn from it to improve best practices.
Maintain Customer Data Privacy With Remote Work
People have more expectations for their data privacy than ever before. While remote work poses new security challenges, taking the proper precautions will give loyal customers peace of mind and keep their information secure.