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How to stay safe when working remotely

As technology has advanced, so have the opportunities for working remotely, using mobile devices

Now, people work from home, hotel rooms, conferences or even cafes. Wherever there are telephony and internet options, work is possible. However, this kind of flexible working can generate instances where data leaks can occur, and cybersecurity can be breached. Working remotely can put a business’s IT systems at risk, but there are ways to minimise these risks.

Those responsible for cybersecurity need to examine any risks that may be associated with working remotely. The first step when addressing data breaches is to understand how and where these may occur. Raising awareness of cybersecurity is important, and staff should be educated on these issues. If employees all understand how to protect IT security and can take the necessary steps to do so when working from locations outside the office, then this will help to keep data safe.

As part of your business’s cybersecurity protocol, your IT team can devise guidelines for safe working practices, along with an action plan to be put into effect should a member of staff have reason to think that they have exposed the business’s IT systems to a security threat.

There are also a number of basic precautions to take to keep IT systems and data safe. Having an effective and up-to-date antivirus security system in place will prove to be extremely worthwhile in protecting data and software. Make sure that there is a system in place to maintain security on all devices that includes strong firewalls, encryption and web filtering.

Passwords for all devices, especially mobile ones, are also critical. Make sure that passwords are updated regularly and cannot be easily guessed. If staff are using their own devices when working remotely, then check that this hardware has adequate protection in the form of antivirus software, encryption and firewalls so that they do not present a weak link for hackers or viruses to exploit.

Overseeing security on devices that staff own can present tricky issues in the area of privacy, so a business may need a policy governing what kind of business-related activities can be carried out on privately-owned devices, and these devices may need security measures installed that are approved by the IT department. Staff should also be aware of keeping all devices safe, including USB sticks and other storage hardware.

Public wifi can be vulnerable to cyber attack, presenting opportunities to breach systems and poach data. Avoiding public wifi where possible is a good idea, although in practice, this is not always feasible.

Trusted networks are always preferred, and it may be sensible to prohibit carrying out tasks involving sensitive data on public networks. If you develop an IT protocol, it could include a list of work-related activities that are not suitable to be carried out using public wifi or any computer in a public place.

Email can present many opportunities for the cybercriminal to gain access to critical data. Correspondence should be protected by encryption software and staff should be made aware of how to work safely using corporate email.

Prevention is better than dealing with a security breach. Robust systems and safe working practices will help protect your business and its data.

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