Employees new to working from home will need extra guidance to ensure information security.
As governments start to loosen restrictions on quarantine and the world begins to go back to 'normal' we may start to notice that more and more employees (and employers even) prefer the benefits of working from home. Initially seen as a perk for remote employees or as something working parents did as a practical solution due to childcare responsibilities, working from home is now fast becoming are more acceptable way to work.
In fact, recent studies have shown that benefits such as increased work/life balance (time for a run or a yoga class in the morning!) and less time wasted commuting is actually contributing to increased employee productivity. Not surprising really.
What was once thought of as a luxury is now seen as a productivity driver and a cultural trend that may well be one of the positive legacies of the pandemic. However, with this change it's critical to ensure that your employees are guided in information and data security while working from their home office or kitchen table.
1. Securely store sensitive files, digital data, and hard copies.
Taking digital or printed hard copy files home? If there's a legitimate business need to keep confidential information in hard copy format keep it out of sight and under lock and key. If you have your own home office lock the door or keep files in a locked filing cabinet.
With regards to digital data, ensure that access to your computer's desktop is protected by a password and turns on automatically after a few minutes just in case you forget to shut your computer down. Keep your security software up to date. Ensure that backups are performed daily to the cloud. If your computer is every stolen or the kids spill their cereal on it, your data will be safe.
Finding it hard to track all of those passwords? If your company doesn't offer a single sign-on functionality on your computer, consider using a password manager such as 1Password or similar. That way you'll only have to remember the one password to access all your files. And it goes without saying that you should never leave a written list of passwords anywhere in your office or hard paper files.
2. Destroy printed documents by shredding securely.
When you're finished with a printed document don't just throw it in the rubbish or home recycling bin. Make sure you shred it securely. Printed documents thrown into home recycling can be treasure to identity thieves if they include confidential information about your company, clients, or employees.
A cheap home office shredder is NOT recommended for secure document destruction. Most of these machines are cheaply made and use a fairly basic kind of shredding called 'strip cut shredding' that may be easily hacked. We recommend using a 'crosscut' shredding method that is used by accredited and secure shredding services.
Bag-N-Shred is an affordable and environmentally-friendly way to shred and destroy your confidential documents. It's affordable (only $24.90 for up to 5 kgs of documents) and uses the crosscut method mentioned above. Read more about how Bag-N-Shred works here.
3. Keep your physical workspace and devices secure.
"Think about who can see your screen, who can hear your conversations, says Mike Bahr, security training and awareness analyst at Zendesk. "Be vigilant - especially if it's employee data, customer data, or other proprietary information that should not be shared."
Here are a few ways to shore up your physical security while working from home:
- Try to create a 'home office' area of the house even if you don't have access to a separate room. Avoid working from the kitchen table or high-traffic area.
- Who can see your screen? If you live with a housemate or young children, be sure you lock your computer if you leave the desk. Same goes for your other work-related devices such as smart phones and tablets.
- If you can't carve out a separate work space in your home, be sure to collect your devices at the end of your workday and store them someplace safe and out of sight. This will also help separating your work life from your home life which can be a challenge for those new to working from home.
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