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How Remote Work Affects IT Compliance and Data Security
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on June 27th, 2018

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How Remote Work Affects IT Compliance and Data Security

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Hiring remote employees is the easiest way to expand your talent pool, provide a perk your employees are sure to appreciate, and possibly increase security risks. If you don’t properly prepare to offer this perk or choose the right solutions, the data security risks could outweigh the benefits.

With a little work, maintaining compliance and keeping your data secure isn’t hard. You just need to know what concerns to address and look for the right tools to do so. Find out how to prepare your organization for working remote, and learn what features you need to promote remote work data security.

Is Your Organization Ready for Remote Work?

Unfortunately, you can’t just send an email to your employees to tell them they can start working from home. If only it was that easy! Instead, you have to do a little preparation before your organization is ready for remote work.

First, you need to start by increasing user awareness and educating your employees on the risks of remote. In many cases, a company’s greatest vulnerability is the lack of employee awareness about the risk of hackers. Employees don’t know to avoid clicking on suspicious links or they fail to follow password best practices. To keep data secure and prevent the threat of a hack, you need to talk to your employees about the risks you’re facing.

It’s important to communicate the following guidelines to employees:

  • Keep your machines updated
  • Keep software and programs updated
  • Keep their machine secure from viruses
  • Secure their home network and wifi
  • Never use public networks

Each of these guidelines strengthens security for remote work access. Machines and software need to be frequently updated to keep up with hackers’ advances methods. It’s also important to never use public networks, like Wi-Fi at a Starbucks or McDonalds, because they expose users to hackers, too.

These guidelines could have an impact on compliance, in addition to impacting your own security interests. You have to ensure that remote work is not only secure but also aligns with any compliance regulations your company is subject to. This could include HIPAA, ITAR, PCI-DSS, GLBA, SOX, or any others, depending on your industry.

Failing to align with these regulations could put your company at risk of noncompliance fines, loss of business, or even jail time. Make sure you choose solutions that accommodate secure, compliant remote work.

Next, it’s important to talk to your employees about the devices they use. For remote work, they probably have a company-issued computer. But today, many people use their own devices like a phone or tablet for work purposes, too. Do you have a BYOD (bring your own device) policy for your employees? If so, you need to ensure your guidelines promote secure behavior.

Make sure that the solutions your employees use on their own devices, like a file sharing solution, have secure logins. Devices are also easily lost or stolen. So, before any device is used by an employee, you need to verify that you can do a factory reset remotely if the device is lost.

Cyber attacks put 60% of small companies completely out of business!

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The Basic Enforcements and Restrictions Essential for Remote Work Security

When you’re choosing a file sharing solution that keeps data secure while still enabling remote work, there are a few enforcements or restrictions you should look for. These safeguards close common gaps hackers find in security protocols with remote workers. So, you don’t have to worry about data compromises.

    • End-User Permissions. One of the best ways to promote remote work data security is through end-user permissions. This safeguard allows administrators to set restrictions for how users can interact with files. You can determine which users have specific permissions like upload, download, delete, and more. This helps you ensure users only have access to data that they need to have access to, keeping other users out.
    • Strict password Enforcement. Following secure password best practices is crucial for keeping your data safe. Unfortunately for most companies that offer the option to work remote, you can never be sure that employees will follow these guidelines on their own. So, you need a secure file sharing solution that requires them to follow password policies. For example, look for a solution that requires employees to choose new passwords every six to eight weeks.
  • Country Access and User IP Address Restrictions. With remote workers, it’s hard to regulate exactly where your employees are working from. Whether they are at home, at a coffee shop, or on vacation, you need to know that your data is secure. Choose a cloud-based file sharing solution that has country access and user IP address restrictions. With these restrictions, you can block unwanted users are trying to access your solutions from other countries or unauthorized IP addresses.
  • Multiple Authentication Methods. Multiple authentication methods add a layer of security for remote workers. When a user attempts to log in, the solution will authenticate them using one of two methods – their password or an SSH (secure shell) key. With a top file sharing solution, administrators can limit a user to only password authentication, only SSH-key authentication, or allow either.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication. Not to be confused with multiple authentication methods, multi-factor authentication adds to remote work data security, too. This is the processes of using a second method of authentication to ensure the user attempting to log into an account is actually who they say they are. Most commonly, the user is authenticated using a code sent to their phone via an app like Google Authenticator, a text or their email address. With multi-factor authentication, you can be sure that even if a remote worker’s password has been compromised, their account can’t be access without the code sent directly to them.
  • Encryption Capabilities. Encryption is essential for remote work data security. This prevents hackers from gaining access to data exposed to the internet. So, when you remote workers are transferring data to and from other users via the internet, you don’t have to worry about hackers intercepting that data.

Enabling remote work in your company doesn't have to put your security at risk. When you prepare for remote work, educate your employees on best practices, and choose a file sharing solution with right safeguards in the place, you’ll be sure you have the needed level of remote work data security. And, you can offer your employees this perk without worrying about your data being compromised.

 

Data security plays an important role in choosing the right file sharing solution. Download this data security training guide to learn how to keep your files secure.

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About Martin Horan

Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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