Data security and the pandemic meant that back in March 2020 IT support teams had to quickly move systems from data accessed mainly from within the office to almost exclusively from outside of the office. The perfect scenario for this would have been months of planning and testing – obviously, this wasn’t the case. The hunt for laptops for home working resulted in highly inflated prices due to basic supply and demand principles. Because of this lots of users were asked to use their own PC’s and laptops at home – a nightmare scenario for employers and IT Support alike.
Whatever devices are being used, company owned or personal, the best solution for home workers is for these devices to simply act as terminals so that all data is accessed from within the business network using a VPN (virtual private network). However, with the growing significance of the cloud this isn’t always possible or the most efficient use of staff resources. This also takes time, a luxury that data security and the pandemic didn’t give us.
What should Employers do as a minimum for when staff have to work from home?
- Ensure all devices are protected by end point tools such as Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware – and that these tools are up-to date
- Not easy to enforce for personal devices but is a necessity. A lot of devices at home will be used by other members of the household and there is no way to know what they are being used for.
- Ensure all internal security systems are updated constantly
- Should be standard practice with or without the pandemic
- Train staff in good Data Protection methods
- Data security is a combination of human efforts and technology products and services. Therefore one of the strongest ways to protect data is to train staff in best practices when it comes to accessing and sharing data, both in the office and remotely.
- Insist on the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) where possible
- This ensures all data being accessed is solely within the company IT network and not external
- Review or adopt a robust IT Security Policy and a Remote Access Policy
What should staff do to help with data protection when working from home?
- Follow same procedures for handling data as if working in the office
- Make sure the software on your devices is up to date (AntiVirus / Windows updates)
- Use secure passwords
- Encrypt your devices and documents
- Be more vigilant
- Email phising scams have seen a huge rise since the beginning of lockdown
- Ask for help
- Just because your colleagues aren’t in the same room doesn’t mean they aren’t there to help you.
What should employers do if a member of staff has been made redundant?
- It’s shutting the stable door after the horse is bolted but a robust IT policy always pays dividends in this scenario
- Change the password to each and every system the user had access to
- Insist on a return of all business owned devices used remotely.
- Insist on a signed confirmation that all business data held on a personal device has been removed – if possible be granted access to the device so IT Support can confirm this.
As IT Security threats such as hacking become ever more sophisticated, maintaining security of information and personal data have arguably never been more relevant or important than they are now. To this end it’s critical that organisations review their existing IT security and other such policies. Adapting these where necessary ensures a balance between adopting a more flexible approach to working in these unprecedented times while maintaining appropriate security levels when it comes to data.
Tony Swain, Managing Director of IT@93 in Rawtenstall writes this guest blog for Metis HR Ltd . If you’re looking for technical help with data security and the pandemic Tony and his team will help you https://it93.co.uk/
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.