Ensuring Document Security While You’re Away From the Office

Document security is one of the most important considerations a business has to be aware of at the best of times.

Now that SMBs all over the country are sending their employees to work from home, there is added pressure on organizations to protect their data.

The reason for this is two-fold:

  • Firstly, a remote workforce means that you now have any number of people connecting to your internal network from a wide variety of devices using connections that are unverified
  • Secondly, cybercriminals take advantage of large events and crises in order to breach companies and steal their data

Because of this, it’s absolutely necessary that business leaders and decision makers are taking the correct precautions to be certain that they’re protecting their data as best they can.

Today, we’ll be looking at how you can look after your data even while your workforce is OOO.

The Document Security Risks of Working From Home

One of the defining characteristics of the current work-from-home environment that many of us find ourselves in is the preparedness of organizations across the country.

Security risks breaches are not to be underestimated, and there are a number of factors that work against SMBs attempting to prevent them.

These factors are namely:

  • A lack of security preparation to defend against an attack
  • Employees’ unfamiliarity with cyberattack methods, leaving them susceptible to being taken advantage of by criminals

When a Company Is Breached

When companies are breached and their data is stolen, it can be devastating.

This is particularly the case with SMBs, which often lack the capital to be able to withstand even a single breach and get back on their feet.

Without a proper plan for looking after your data, the consequences can be fatal.

93% of companies without a disaster recovery plan who suffer a major data disaster are out of business within one year

Related Post: Why a Disaster Recovery Plan Is Vital for SMBs

How to Ensure Your Document Security Is Satisfactory

Protecting Your Internal Network

As we just mentioned, having a remote workforce brings with it a number of security challenges.

The first and most obvious is that you have employees accessing data and documents from outside your office, which means they’re not using your established (and presumably more secure) network.

They will instead be accessing the network from their homes, coffee shops, libraries, and so on.

After their own homes, the second-most common place for employees to conduct remote work is in coffee shops, with 37% of respondents indicating they use them

The point being, you know nothing about their security protocols and there’s no assurance that the networks they’re using are providing the necessary security.

The second point is that many workers will be using their own devices.

While of course, this will save on overheads, there’s the crucial disadvantage that you cannot control the software that’s installed on them—namely antivirus; particularly next-gen antivirus, the standard option for a lot of businesses that have implemented a cloud solution for their security.

components of next gen antivirus graphic

The end result is that you have workers accessing your company’s internal documents and you can’t be certain that their devices are secured, or that they’re using secure networks.

The best way to mitigate this is by investing in a VPN for your business.

A virtual private network works by establishing a secure connection between your workers and your network at the office.

Data that passes through it is encrypted and it cannot be “seen” by others unless they have the correct credentials.

Using a VPN is an easy and secure way of ensuring that sensitive documents that have to be accessed by remote employees are kept safe.

Educating Your Employees

In times of crisis, cybercriminals prey on people’s anxieties in order to exploit their company’s data.

With all of your workers out of the office, they will be left to their own devices (so to speak) and will make for easy pickings for criminals.

This is without even considering that cyberattacks are increasing on SMBs and recent events have prompted a massive influx of attacks on businesses.

Related Post: Coronavirus Scams: Q&A With Impact’s Director of MIT Security Services

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that all your staff are aware about the importance of cyber hygiene and understand how crucial document security is.

There are a number of programs that offer expertise and help with best practices for employees.

At Impact, for example, we offer clients KnowBe4 security awareness training, to give businesses a strong first line of defense by giving employees the skillset and knowledge to sniff out a scam and not be taken advantage of.

Strongly consider implementing a training program to help your remote employees and avoid having a remote workforce that hemorrhages data because of a simple (and avoidable) lack of awareness.

security awareness graphic

Have a Clear Policy for Remote Work

Both of these points tie nicely into our final point: businesses should have a clear policy when it comes to the practices of their remote workers.

While many businesses may already be comfortable with remote workers—perhaps they already have people on staff who telecommute—there are a substantial number of companies that have no formal policy in place for employees working outside the office.

63% of company departments have at least one person who works remotely for a significant amount of time, but 57% of businesses have no formal work-from-home policy

With over half of businesses not having an existing set of procedures in place for the current scenario we find ourselves in, there’s a lot of organizations which now find themselves particularly vulnerable to a data breach.

The reason for this is quite simply that workers have no rules to follow and are seemingly left to deal with important data as they see fit—not a great strategy for document security.

Outline a clear policy for remote work. Employees should understand exactly what is expected of them with regards to data protection, confidentiality, and code of conduct.

42% of remote workers plan to work remotely more frequently than they currently do in the next 5 years, and more than half of on-site workers want to start working remotely

Establishing a policy is important, not just for the immediate future, but long-term too.

After all, remote work is increasing, and is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.

Takeaways

  • A remote workforce brings with it several security concerns
  • A VPN goes a long way to ensuring document security between your business and remote workers
  • Make sure the employees have the knowhow to be able to avoid being scammed
  • Create a clear policy for remote work that employees can rely on when operating outside the office

In light of recent events, many organizations have found themselves playing catchup, trying to implement makeshift solutions to ensure that their data is secure when using a remote workforce.

Impact Networking has been in the business of helping SMBs for over 20 years, and our cybersecurity service utilizes best-in-class solutions to ensure our customers safety. Discover more by taking a look at what we offer in our Managed Cybersecurity package.