Why Protecting Employee IT Security Is A Remote Priority

The importance of IT security has never been greater in an age when firms can be threatened not just by malevolent individuals or organised crooks, but by state-backed operators. All this is happening when many staff are using company devices outside the controlled environment of the office.

Marrying up the need for more security in an age of hybrid working may sound challenging, but with the right IT support it need not be. Writing for The HR Director, CEO of security firm iStorage John Michael said while companies had to be in charge of the hardware and software, it was far from impossible to keep things safe.

He added: “And with a mix of compassionate policymaking and computer hardware, which can be remotely and securely administered, employees can enjoy the benefits of remote work without causing a security risk.”

Location-based access control was one example of the sort of software that can increase security, he noted, pointing to the fact that in addition to the 1,000-plus breaches of data revealed by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2022, there were over 600 cases of paperwork left in insecure locations, such as coffee shops or on public transport.

Using location-based access control means limits can be set on where staff can work. If they are out of the office, they may work at home or somewhere like a co-working space, but bosses can stop them from accessing work tools in other places, which also makes them less likely to go to such places while carrying paperwork.

Another suggestion was to use encrypted data so that if hardware such as a laptop was stolen, the thieves would not have the opportunity to access it.

Perhaps more novel was the notion of digital disconnection software. This would turn off devices at a certain time to stop staff working outside their prescribed hours.

Mr Michael said this has proved popular in France, where not working beyond the allotted hours is a key worker demand. Whether that would apply in the UK or hamper flexible working is another matter.

Remote data erasure is another facility the expert suggested, which means everything held on a device can be wiped from a remote location if it falls into the wrong hands through loss or theft, or simply the employee failing to return it when they leave the company.

All this, he concluded, can help maintain security and help firms become fully reconciled to the reality that hybrid working is here to stay.

This large-scale shift is, of course, the result of workers in many countries discovering a new way of working during the pandemic in 2020. That year saw Verizon publish its Business Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), which revealed that the year saw a huge rise in data threats and breaches.

However, the DBIR report also noted that 22 per cent of breaches were the result of human error. That may be a significant figure; the remote security you could have in place may provide an extra layer of protection for your business, not against deliberate attempts by any of your staff to do something wrong, but simple, unintended accidents and ignorance.

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