Going Remote and Increased Vulnerabilities: How Companies can secure their Collaboration Platforms and Data

Now more than ever, the vulnerabilities to the data of many businesses are more pronounced. With more companies mandating telecommuting for their workers in recent times, monitoring employees’ activities on collaboration platforms is a difficult feat. While collaboration tools make sharing data among employees seamless, oversharing sensitive data can make a company’s security susceptible to hackers and their activities. Similarly, while internal traditional workers have access to IT staff who can rectify any issue encountered while trying to access collaborative platforms, remote workers are not afforded the same luxury. Therefore, when it comes to data security for remote workers, companies need to be proactive.

Train Employees on Security and Data Protection

While collaboration tools enhance employees’ productivity in the workplace, the difficulty in navigating the software can cause problems and irreversible damages in an organization. This would be a result of a lack of proper education on the use of the software and a simple tap or click can be detrimental to the security of a company. However, when remote workers like other workers in the organization are trained on security protocols, the risk of sharing confidential information and other essential information necessary for minimizing risks. Educating your on basic security steps like using strong passwords, avoiding sharing personal information via collaborative platforms, using encrypted devices will go a long way in reducing the susceptibility of your company to a data breach. 

Monitor your Remote Workers Activities

Although employees who work remotely are more or less given free access to a wide range of company’s data, they are hard to monitor. Some remote workers take advantage of collaboration platforms to access sites that are unsecured or share important data with unauthorized users. However, with virtual monitoring tools, you can track their activities on the platforms and ensure they stay focused. Furthermore, when employees feel they are being watched it deter them from engaging in unproductive activities. However, the difference between spying on your work-from-home workers and monitoring them is consent. Ensure that your employees fully consent to their activities being tracked by the company to avoid legal repercussions. 

Encrypt and Update your system

To prevent data loss, encrypting cannot be overemphasized. Communication among employees via collaborative platforms can contain sensitive information that should not be accessed by outsiders or a third party. Hence, encryption ensures that your data are securely protected. 

With encryption, users may be required to go through multi-factor authentication before they can access certain information on the platform. Also, you can provide authorization to few individuals at the top management level when it comes to certain files and folders to prevent compromise and leakage of data. It is not enough to encrypt your data; irregular update makes your data vulnerable to hackers. Avoid using outdated technologies so as not to be exposed to data risk. 

Mandate Employees to use the Company-given devices

 It is not uncommon for employees to be more comfortable with their personal devices enough that they use them for official purposes. Every day, people share confidential information through their personal emails. You might have given your employees an encrypted device but they may choose to use their personal computers and other devices to work especially when they are on the go. However, employees who use their personal devices create security loopholes for the company especially when it comes to data protection. Companies do not necessarily need to eradicate the Bring your own devices (BYOD) policy completely but they must ensure their employees adhere to the company’s protocols and follow the necessary precautions. 

Limit Barriers of Access to Collaborative Platforms

While it is important to encrypt your data, ensure authentication before access to sensitive information and track your telecommuting employees’ activities on collaborative platforms, it is important to prioritize ease over barriers. If your collaborative platform is too technical for your remote workers to understand, they may feel burdened. Since remote workers have no access to the IT department, the devices and tools to be given to them must be made easy to access and navigate. This should in no way reduce the security standard of the collaborative platform. Therefore, an ideal collaborative platform is easy for users to use but difficult to hack.

Telecommuting has come to stay so companies must be dynamic to ensure that while they cater for the communication needs of their in-house staff, they are also proactive and up-to-date with their diverse employees outside. Data protection is so crucial that its loss can be the downfall of any organization no matter how large it is.

Published 03/16/20