Hybrid working and reducing information risk

A lot of professionals who work with information are currently experiencing what some of us have already gone through – working from home. This transition comes with various difficulties, one of which is a significant concern we are all familiar with – the safety of data and the risks involved. Quickly changing the way we work and creating new systems and methods of operating only makes it more challenging to establish a secure work environment. 

There are almost as many possible hybrid working scenarios as there are readers of this blog post, but there are several factors that apply almost universally. 

The Data Security Chain’s Weakest Link Is Us 

It is important to remember that ensuring data security and minimizing data risks involves multiple aspects, including software technology, machinery, processes, and human behavior. However, the human element is typically the most vulnerable link in the chain. Even if there are other vulnerabilities to target, they often require the cooperation of a human to be successful. The failure of the human element alone can be enough to render all other precautions useless. 

Next, it’s important to note that data risk is not solely, or even primarily, a matter of security. Mitigating data risk requires having appropriate tools and systems in place to ensure that your data is of high quality and effectively managed, enabling your organization to make use of it efficiently. 

Considering these factors, let’s now consider what actions you should take: 

Unless you have taken on entirely new responsibilities due to the pandemic, you are likely still performing tasks that you were doing previously, just from a different location. It’s important to keep in mind that sensitive information, such as HR records, trade secrets, financial data, and research, still require protection, just as they always have. 

Collaboration with others will likely still be necessary to achieve your goals, and the need for complete and accurate data and records remains unchanged. To ensure these needs are met in a home office environment, you can approach the situation similarly to how you would in a traditional office space, with the understanding that your home office may not be as well-equipped or organized as your previous workspace. Nonetheless, to accomplish your objectives effectively, it’s crucial to focus on creating a functional and productive home office. 

Optimizing Your Experience Working Remotely 

Use a virtual private network (VPN): A VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the internet, preventing others from accessing your data. It’s an excellent tool for remote workers to ensure that their online activities are secure and protected from hackers. 

Implement a zero-trust security model: Zero-trust security means that no user or device is trusted by default, and every interaction is verified before access is granted. Implementing this model in your home office can help reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your data. 

Encrypt your data: Encrypting your data adds an extra layer of security, making it more challenging for hackers to access your information even if they manage to breach your security measures. Use encryption software to protect your files, emails, and other sensitive data. 

Use a separate device for work: Using a separate device for work can help keep your personal information separate from your work data, reducing the risk of a data breach. Consider using a work-issued laptop or tablet for work-related activities and keep personal activities on your personal device. 

Limit access to your home office: Limiting access to your home office can help prevent unauthorized access to your work-related data. Consider installing a lock on your office door or using a room divider to create a physical barrier between your workspace and the rest of your home. 

Use a physical firewall: A physical firewall is a device that sits between your internet connection and your devices, filtering incoming traffic and blocking potential threats. Using a physical firewall can help protect your devices from malicious attacks and reduce the risk of a data breach. 

Failing to implement fundamental measures to safeguard your data can result in dire consequences, as my vast personal experience attests. While it may appear rudimentary, many individuals still disregard the need for essential precautions such as securing their devices and disposing of confidential information correctly. 

Another solution to consider for remote workers looking to reduce their information risks is to utilize offsite storage providers that offer scanning on demand services for active files. 

Offsite storage providers can offer a range of secure storage options, including document storage, digital media storage, and backup storage solutions. By utilising these services, remote workers can store their physical documents in a secure location and access them when needed. This can help to reduce the risk of physical document loss or damage while also providing remote access to important information. 

Scanning on demand services from these providers offer a convenient solution for remote workers who need quick access to their physical documents. Instead of waiting for documents to be physically retrieved, scanned, and sent, remote workers can request scanning services for active files directly from their offsite storage provider. This allows remote workers to access important documents quickly and efficiently, without needing to worry about the logistics of physical document retrieval. 

As remote work becomes more common, it is crucial to take steps to reduce information risks and ensure the security of sensitive data. Implementing security measures such as using a VPN, implementing a zero-trust security model, encrypting data, using separate devices for work and personal use, limiting access to home offices, and using physical firewalls can help mitigate information risks. Additionally, utilising offsite storage providers that offer scanning on demand services can provide a convenient and secure solution for remote workers who need access to physical documents. 

Do not risk the loss of your data due to preventable incidents, such as mistakenly discarding sensitive documents. While it may not have the same intrigue as a cyber-attack from a foreign entity, the harm to your data can be equally devastating.