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Remote Work Challenges: Keeping Company Data Safe

by Kiara

Many companies have employees working from home or other remote locations these days. While remote work has quite a few benefits, it also creates data safety challenges. Companies need to make sure important information stays protected, even when workers use home Wi-Fi and personal devices. 

Using Public Wi-Fi Networks

Employees often connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots when working remotely at coffee shops or other locations. However, public networks are easier for hackers to access. They may try to steal usernames, passwords, company files, and other private data. Workers should avoid doing any sensitive work or logging into company systems over public Wi-Fi. According to the good folk over at Hillstone Networks, things such as turning on firewalls, using a virtual private network (VPN), and sticking to company-provided hotspots to help keep data safer.

Sharing Sensitive Data Over Email

Working at home makes it very convenient to share company information over email. Nevertheless, email messages are not always secure. Hackers can access accounts and read exchanged emails. Employees should be incredibly careful about the type of company data sent over email. Confidential customer records, unpublished financial statements, and upcoming product designs should not be shared over email where possible. Using a company intranet or cloud storage instead can help reduce risks.

Using Personal Devices 

Many remote employees use their own phones, tablets, and computers to do work. Personal gadgets likely do not have the same security controls as company-owned devices. They may be missing antivirus software, encryption, and firewall protections needed to keep company applications and files safe. Workers connecting personal devices to home Wi-Fi and public hotspots also face hacking risks. Companies should have clear “Bring Your Own Device” policies outlining expected security precautions for those working remotely. 

Allowing Family Device Use

Employees working from home often share computer equipment with family members. Spouses may borrow work laptops, while children use home desktops also used for remote learning. This makes company data vulnerable. Family members may accidentally introduce malware, access sensitive files, or leave accounts logged in. Employees should aim to have separate equipment for company vs. personal usage whenever possible. Strong password policies and firewalls also help protect against unauthorized use.

Neglecting Software Updates  

Hackers look for vulnerabilities in outdated programs and operating systems. Failing to regularly update software gives them an opening to steal remote worker data. Companies must make sure computers, mobile devices, applications, and security tools used by remote staff stay updated. Regular software patches and upgrades are essential for identifying and fixing known weaknesses before criminals can penetrate systems. 

The Importance of Regular Software Updates

Of all the cybersecurity precautions companies can take, consistent software updating might be the most vital for remote worker protection. Failing to patch known system vulnerabilities leaves an open door for criminals to walk right in and steal data. Just one outdated program can compromise company information across connected networks and devices. Workers may incorrectly assume that software updates just add new features. However, most patches actually address identified weaknesses that hackers could exploit. 

Additionally, keeping operating systems current better positions remote infrastructure to manage modern cyber threats. Employees may delay software updates because of long installation times. But the temporary slowdown of systems while upgrading is a small price to pay for drastically improved data security. 

Conclusion

While remote work is productive, it also exposes company data to cybersecurity risks. However, there are clear precautions companies can implement to help protect sensitive information. Promoting good security habits means companies can realize the benefits of a flexible, mobile workforce without sacrificing data protection.

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