Security Overtime: How to Protect Company Data in the Era of Full-Time Work

In the so-called ‘new normal’, we’re finding ourselves tethered to our digital devices more than ever. Every day, we’re bombarded with emails, meetings, and loads of data that could make your company vulnerable if not handled properly.

The more we shift towards full-time work, the more our data security measures need to work overtime, too. But how do you keep your company’s data safe when your employees are working round-the-clock, often from remote locations?

Strengthening your data protection strategies can mean avoiding the catastrophic consequences of potential data breaches. 

In the forthcoming sections, we’ll dissect various strategies to help you solidify your data security, ensuring your company’s information remains confidential and secure.

 

Tip 1: Begin with a strong security policy

In the face of growing cybersecurity threats, it’s crucial for your company to begin with a robust security policy, laying the foundation for all other data protection strategies. This policy ought to be a comprehensive document detailing how your organization will safeguard its data and IT systems.

Crafting this policy is not as difficult as it may appear. Begin by identifying the data that requires protection, then determine who has access to this data, how it is stored, and the risks it may face. Your policy should also address the use of personal devices and public networks, which are common flaws in a security system.

But, don’t stop there. Cyber threats evolve rapidly, and your policy needs to keep pace. Regularly revisit and revise your policy, adapting it to address new threats and incorporate new technologies.

Top 2: Adopt cloud technology

Embracing cloud technology is a smart move for your company’s data protection strategy, as it offers a flexible and robust approach to cybersecurity. As we live in an era where full-time work is the norm, the need for secure, accessible, and efficient data storage and management is paramount.

There is more to cloud computing than just offsite data storage. It involves identifying threats in real time and taking swift action by utilizing sophisticated algorithms and machine learning. Ensuring that the security of your data is not jeopardized while granting your team access to data and applications from any location is crucial.

Benefits of embracing cloud technology include:

  • Scalability: You can simply scale your storage requirements up or down based on your business’s needs thanks to cloud services.  This flexibility saves you from investing in storage capacity that you may not use
  • Cost-effectiveness: With cloud technology, you only pay for the storage you use, eliminating the need for substantial upfront investment in hardware
  • Data protection: Cloud providers offer advanced security features such as encryption, multi-factor authentication, and regular backups, ensuring your data is well-protected
  • Availability: Cloud technology ensures that your data is always available, regardless of any local hardware failures

Tip 3: Anonymize the data you do need

While considering the right service provider for cloud technology is crucial, it’s equally important to focus on the kind of data you’re storing – specifically, you should aim to anonymize the sensitive data your company needs.

Start by pinpointing the data that’s necessary for your business’s operations. Anything beyond that, particularly personal and sensitive data, should be minimized. Remember, you can’t lose what you don’t have.

Once you’ve determined the crucial data, it’s time to anonymize it. There are several methods you can use, such as pseudonymization, where you replace sensitive data with artificial identifiers, or data masking, where you hide data with randomized characters or values.

Tip 4: Don’t send sensitive information in emails or online messages

Avoiding the transmission of sensitive information through emails or online messages is a cornerstone of data security in today’s digital work environment. This practice is critical because emails and messages can be intercepted, hacked, or even mistakenly sent to the wrong recipient.

As part of your security strategy, it’s crucial to consider the following points:

  • Never send private information over unprotected channels:  Like postcards, unencrypted emails and messages are readable by anybody. When sending sensitive data, use secure channels like secure file transfer protocols (SFTP) or encrypted emails.
  • Be cautious with attachments: Malware can be embedded in seemingly innocent documents. Ensure your antivirus is up to date and consider using a secure file preview feature
  • Beware of phishing scams: Cybercriminals are experts at crafting legitimate-looking emails that trick you into revealing sensitive information. Always verify the sender and never click on suspicious links

Tip 5: Never download unapproved software

Downloading software from unapproved or unknown sources is risky and can jeopardize the sensitive data of your business when it comes to maintaining a secure work environment. It is not only about trust; it is also about keeping your company’s network secure and intact.

Unapproved software can be riddled with malware or other security threats that can infiltrate your company’s system, allowing cybercriminals to access confidential data or even take control of your network. It’s not a risk worth taking. You should always stick to using approved software that’s been vetted by your IT department.

Tip 6: Follow security best practices for application passwords

The overall security of the data in your company can be greatly impacted by the strength of your passwords. Strong passwords can shield your data from potential threats, but weak passwords make hackers easy targets.

Here are some best practices for application passwords that you should consider:

  • Create strong and complex passwords: Your passwords should contain a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numerals, and special characters. Because of its complexity, hackers find it difficult to figure out
  • Avoid using personal information in your passwords: Information that can be easily found or guessed, like your birth date or pet’s name, shouldn’t be used in your passwords
  • Change your passwords regularly: Regular password changes can prevent unauthorized access. Make it a habit to change your passwords every three to six months
  • Use a password manager: Remembering numerous complicated passwords can be difficult. Password managers can securely store and autofill passwords, making it simpler to keep strong, unique passwords for each application

Tip 7: Ensure your connection is secure if doing work from home

Just as you’ve fortified your application passwords, it’s equally crucial to secure your connection when working from home, as this creates an additional layer of protection for your company’s data. It’s not enough to simply log on to your home Wi-Fi and start working. You need to ensure that your home network is as secure as the one at your office.

Firstly, make sure your Wi-Fi network is password-protected using a strong, unique password that can’t be easily guessed. Change this password regularly, and never share it with anyone outside your household. Also, ensure your router has the latest security updates, as outdated software can be a vulnerability that hackers exploit.

Secondly, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when accessing company data. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, making it harder for cybercriminals to intercept and steal your information. Your company may provide a VPN, but if not, there are several reliable and secure options available.

Thirdly, stay away from using public Wi-Fi networks for business. These networks can serve as a hub for cybercrime activity and are frequently insecure. If you have no choice but to use public WiFi, protect your connection with a VPN.

Finally, set up and maintain antivirus software on every device you use for work. This can assist in identifying and getting rid of any malicious software that could endanger your data.

Conclusion

In closing, keeping your company’s data secure is non-negotiable in this era of full-time work. Surprisingly, 95% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error.

In addition to enforcing rigorous security policies, incorporating secure cloud technology, anonymizing data, and cultivating a culture of security awareness, it’s equally vital to calculate hourly pay for employees involved in maintaining these security protocols. 

Recognizing and appropriately compensating those dedicated to safeguarding your digital infrastructure is a strategic investment in fortifying your defenses.

Remember, a single misstep can lead to significant data loss. So, stay vigilant, adapt, and fortify your defenses to keep your company’s valuable information safe.