You’ve crossed every t and dotted every i when it comes to setting up your remote company. Having carefully implemented policies and procedures to attract top-tier telecommuting talent, your team is thriving, productive, and happy. Everything is going well…until one day one of your lead employees loses his laptop—and opens a wormhole to your company’s most sensitive data. If you want to avoid a similar fate, consider the below tips for distributed teams about data security.
Data security is one of those hot button topics for every organization, but particularly so for remote companies. After all, with employees spread out all over the world, working in various locations and time zones, it leaves a lot of room for company data to be mistakenly leaked.
Make sure that your company’s data security is safe and sound by following these five tips for distributed teams:
1. Get on the cloud.
Many companies utilize the cloud in one way or another in order to conduct business. This is even more important for remote companies who stand to gain a lot by having their employees use the cloud and cloud collaboration tools. Why? No matter what type of flexible job your employees have, they can always access any and all information if your company uses the cloud. If your company is still on the fence about using the cloud, think about it this way: there is a much greater likelihood that an employee could lose sensitive data due to only having his work live locally on his computer—and his computer alone. Plus, it’s much easier for hackers to get into a personal computer (and access the files on it), than to attempt to hack into a company’s cloud-based content.
2. Think twice about internal servers.
Some companies want to avoid the cloud and use internal servers instead. But the costs of utilizing internal servers can be quite high, in which case cloud-based solutions might be your only option. In the FlexJobs article, “The Cloud: Data Storage Tips for Distributed Teams,” Sanjib Sahoo, chief technical officer at TradeMonster and AITP’s CIO of the year, puts it plainly: “The key is productivity and making sure you are getting value out of your resources. Is it creating business value, reducing operating costs, increasing collaboration, and accelerating project timelines? These are your key performance indicators.”
3. Implement new strategies.
There are ways for employees to reduce the risk of data breaches. Two-factor authentication is becoming more and more popular with many companies. It requires not only a username and password, but an extra layer of security that only the user would know. In more high tech situations, two-factor authentication might include a voice prompt, a fingerprint swipe, the scanning of the user’s iris, or even the patterns in typing. The two-factor authentication can help protect a company’s data should there be an attempted breach or data leak.
4. Reconsider your company’s BYOD policy.
If an employee is using a company’s laptop, you can help protect sensitive data by loading it with proper firewall configurations, anti-virus programs, current security updates, and even security incident reporting requirements. You can make it a rule that employees can’t put personal information on their computer, nor can they remove data from your company’s computer and transfer it to their own.
If your remote company does allow BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), then you have to keep in mind that you’re potentially opening yourself up to a whole host of security risks. If your employee loses his computer, forgets to wipe it clean if he donates or tosses it, or doesn’t have an anti-virus and firewall program set up, your company’s data can be easily intercepted.
5. Speak with your employees.
While many remote workers prefer to use their own devices, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure that you treat their equipment as if it were your own and configure it accordingly. Likewise, employees who use their own devices must also work hard to protect sensitive data. And as part of the hiring process, you should speak with remote employees about the importance of data security, and keep it as an open conversation to consistently remind them about it.
Data security is critical to the success of any organization. By training your remote workers from the start about this issue (and how to avoid telecommuting security risks), you can hopefully keep your company’s most critical information right where it needs to be—and safe and sound.