As homes expand to accommodate office space, traditional office spaces will shrink to include probably just a conference room for in-person meetings. While this makes perfect sense, there’s something here that you can’t ignore: Data security.
The WFH model raises several questions from the data security perspective which makes it imperative that you have mechanisms in place to mitigate possible data loss, leak, or misuse.
Establishing data security best practices is challenging in a WFH environment, but not impossible.
Restrictions on installing firewalls, antivirus, system/software updates, and security patches
When your employees are in the office physically and using your computers, you can install
firewalls and access control mechanisms. For example, you can block non-work-related sites or
sites with 3rd party cookies, or set up password policies for them to follow when using the device,
etc. But, if they are working from home and using their own devices, there’s no way you can install
firewalls or have access restrictions like that in place at the system level. Similarly, you can ensure
your work computers are up-to-date in terms of security patches, system updates, and software
upgrades, but you can’t force an employee to install security patches or antivirus on their PC
Keeping your data safe after an employee quits
When your employees are working from home using their own devices, how can you be sure you
recovered all your data and erased them permanently from your former employee’s devices? How
do you ensure they don’t have a copy of the sensitive information stored somewhere that could be
misused intentionally or unintentionally cause a data breach.
Safeguarding access to your data in case of unexpected events such a device theft or breakdown
If your employee is using their personal device for work and it gets stolen, how do you handle the
data loss and any data compromise that could possibly follow. Similarly, if something goes wrong
with their device, how do you ensure your data is not lost and your work is not stalled? Also, if the
device goes into repair, how can you be sure of the security of your data then?
Challenges brought on by device sharing
If your employees are using their own devices for work purposes, you can’t stop them from sharing
their devices with friends and family. But, device sharing can put your data at risk of being stolen.
Remember WFH is not necessarily just WFH
When we use the term, WFH, the first image that comes to mind is of a person sitting in their living
room or home office desk and working on a laptop. But, remember that’s not necessarily true.
When you follow the WFH model, it enables your employees to work from anywhere! The recent
‘workation’ (work+vacation) trend that’s catching on is a testimonial to this fact. For all you know,
your employee may be working from the Starbucks two states away, or they may be at the airport
sending that last report in before they take off for a vacation, or they may dial into that important
meeting from the resort they are staying at–all instances where they may be using public Wi-Fi
networks, compounding the risk to your data from cybercriminals.
Let’s face it! The WFH environment coupled with the BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) makes
organizations much more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats than the traditional office setup.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s no solution. As a company, you can still put various
mechanisms in place to ensure the safety and security of your data. You should also train your
employees on how to safeguard themselves and your data from cybercriminals. A managed service
provider (MSP) specializing in cybersecurity, data backup, and recover can help you with both of
these. They would know what tools you can use to keep your data secure even in the WFH scenario
and they will also be able to train your employees on the common mistakes that people make
unwittingly which often leads to major data breaches.