Now that summer is underway and employees are using their well-earned vacation time, it’s important that both employees and employers to update their devices, security software, and Internet connected equipment in advance to traveling or working remotely.
Between January 1st, 2005, and June 12th, 2017, just over 9,000 corporate data breaches exposed a collective total of roughly 1.1 billion records. Data breaches can be both physical or digital and vary in severity, ranging from stolen login credentials to identity theft.
Identity theft, as defined here, is often the result of a compromised Social Security number, government document, or financial statement. However, we can all take steps to help ensure the information of employees, employers, and clients is being protected.
Therefore, if you’re traveling this summer, or have employees scheduling time off, set aside a few minutes to discuss the importance of off-site security protocol and work device preparation strategies!
Information that needs defending
First of all, one needs to know exactly what kind of information is more prone to cyber hacking and therefore needs extra care. There are usually three types of such information:
- Employer Data — Includes intellectual property, administrator access and settings, finances and payroll information, tax documents, and employee PII.
- Employee Data — Includes personally identifiable information, also known as PII, such as SSNs, government and tax documents, and even personal finance information like bank account numbers.
- Client Data — Defending client information is essential, especially considering that almost all of the information a client would provide, could be desirable to a cyber criminal. This includes the clients PII, financial information, external accounts, intellectual property, and even their employee data.
Defensive cybersecurity strategies
Now let’s focus on how exactly to ensure data safety within your organization.
- Avoid public or unsecured networks. Remote or traveling employees should avoid public networks whenever possible, as they could be monitored by individuals seeking access to your information. VPNs, or virtual private networks, are a great option when you’re in a pinch, however, to guarantee the security of your data transfers, ask your network administrator what they would recommend.
- Update Devices and Security Software. Before your departure from a secure Wifi network, update your devices, software, and apps. Security software often requires regular updates in order to ensure they’re working properly. Conveniently, enabling automatic updates across devices and even network settings will make this process easier for businesses to manage while providing insights on past vulnerabilities. Remote or traveling employees should perform updates in advance to leaving, in order to help ensure the update package is authentic, and network connection is secure.
- Never Share or Leave Equipment Unattended. Physical theft of electronic devices and computers is very common, especially in tourist destinations. Therefore, enabling the option on your work devices for remote clearing is a great way to wipe the data in an emergency, however, this is only helpful if the device is protected by a password. If you must leave the device unattended, use a travel lock, or consider leaving it at home.
- Always Logout. Put simply, if it’s not in your pocket, lock it. Finger scanners and pins can go a long way, especially when protecting the device and applications from unauthorized access. So remember, once you’re done, lock it and pocket it.
- Utilize Cloud Security. Companies inevitably use all sorts of software to keep track and manage what happens every day. Opting for cloud-based software instead of on-site ones. These usually adopt a series of safety measures against cyber villains, from data encryption and password protection based on level of access, to SSL, which ensures any sensitive data is only seen and managed by only those who need to. What’s more, the systems automatically track data on any suspicious activity, which makes it easy to identify any data breach before it gets serious.
All in all
Employers should be aware of current threats, recent updates (an infographic by Telstra Ventures) and data protection strategies in order to keep all the sensitive data they create or simply manage safely. Whether they have to legally do this or not, it’s always best to implement an extra layer of protection from cyber criminals.
Lucy is a cybersecurity and fraud detection specialist whose advocacy efforts are directed towards raising public awareness to internet crimes and data privacy. She helps individuals educate and defend themselves against cybercriminals and identity thieves.