With a large portion of the world now working remotely, employees are now exposed to a huge range of potential security risks. This is due to many remote workers now being out of the security protocols found on company systems, as well as utilising new third-party communication and conferencing platforms, like Zoom, which SpaceX and Tesla’s Elon Musk is even weary of.
For this reason, individuals and businesses alike should be very conscious of how they share their data, especially when working from home on devices with sensitive business and personal information.
SA does have advanced legislation that covers how data may be used and what must be disclosed – one of the most important considerations is the Protection of Personal Information Act. However, scammers are known to strike at times of crisis, and this is usually when people and businesses are at their most vulnerable. It is, therefore, important for South Africans to not only rely on the law to protect their confidential information, as there are a number of unscrupulous operators out there and various ways in which data can be accessed or breached.
These are some of the precautions that businesses should be taking to manage cybersecurity:
- With the widespread use of online platforms to facilitate the ease of remote work, make employees aware of the types of information that they need to safeguard and how best to do this.
- With a proliferation of video conferencing services, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, make sure that employees only use secure services where the risk of hackers accessing data is reduced.
- Always download software updates for business devices such as; tablets, phone and PC as soon as they become available. These often contain patches for newly discovered security vulnerabilities.
- Make sure that all business electronic devices are equipped with spyware and malware protection, including PCs, tablets and cell phones. Never use any other devices to access business profiles, internet banking or any websites where business or personal credit card details are required.
- Businesses should prohibit the sharing of work electronic devices. When employees use their work devices at home, no third party should be using or have access to these devices. This reduces the risk of access to protected company information.
- Ensure that you password protect all company devices. If these are stolen or lost, it offers a level of protection against unauthorised persons gaining access to the stored information.
- As remote working becomes necessary, employees may be tempted to connect to free WiFi networks nearby. As many of these networks are unsecure, this can lead to significant security risks.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) assist in encrypting internet traffic, this is more often implemented when employees are connected to a public WiFi network. If your company has one in place, make sure employees exclusively use the VPN when working and when accessing company information systems remotely.
At the rate that IT conventions and digital technology is changing, it can be difficult as a business owner to stay up to date with all your digital information risks and responsibilities. Going back to the previous point – if you know you collect client information and want to know how it needs to be protected and what the potential dangers are, consult the legal and technical experts that can best advise you on what solutions will keep that information secure.
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