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Why You Need to Secure Your Files and Sensitive Data Post Covid-19

Why You Need to Secure Your Files and Sensitive Data Post Covid-19

For many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to come up with new strategies and new ways of working that were totally unforeseen at the beginning of the year. Many organizations are now adopting looser working schedules when it comes to time in the office, with many employees working from home, there was, and still is, an increasing reliance on the internet. This means that more and more, we depend on the internet to store our correspondences, our work schedules, and critical client or personal information.

In a post COVID-19 world, cyber security should be at the forefront of every business’s strategy. As organizations rush to ensure that “regular” business operations are maintained, employees and CEOs alike jump from one digital storage platform to another, juggling a newly remote workplace. So, why do you need to secure your files and sensitive data post-COVID?

The Importance of Using A Centralized Management Tool

Using a centralised management software to manage and access sensitive data is something that should be at the forefront of every business’s data security protocols. Because of the increase in sensitive data being stored and made accessible on online or cloud-based systems, implementing a system wherein this data is protected but accessible provides an extra layer of security.

Not only this, but transferring over to a centralized management tool means that sensitive data is still accessible from home, which is critical in this “new-normal” working environment where employees are either still working from home or dependent on remote working. Plus, businesses can achieve streamlined communications by using an overarching system which offers unique data management, administrative tools, and login portals.

Using a system which at its heart fully integrates data management, communications, and streamlined administration means that data is protected and day-to-day operations are made much easier because of the nature of using a centralized system. Everyone wins.

The Risks of Online or Cloud-Based Storage

Many organizations are storing client information on cloud-based storage platforms out of sheer necessity. With the sudden transition to remote working, businesses were left scrambling to ensure that employees could access the information they needed to carry out daily tasks. This meant that more and more businesses began relying on platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox to name just a couple. This can present concerns for businesses because of the following reasons:

●       Employees who are not IT admins possess a high level of access and control over data that would usually be restricted.

●       There is a higher number of technology options used to secure and manage user access and authentication.

●       Employee or contractor actions– whether intentional and accidental– could compromise the data security compliance of an organization.

Storing sensitive information on a platform like Dropbox has little to no regulation with regards to which users can access, edit and distribute data.

The first step to creating secure files on cloud-based and online storage platforms is to identify your sources, Dropbox, Office 365, Google, etc, the type of sensitive data that you’re handling, and the risk involved. Securing your files on these remote storage platforms can be as simple as understanding what employee needs access to which files and making sure to set those access levels on particular files. Distribution can be regulated by placing restrictions on the sharing options available to employees.

Your staff needs to be introduced to a classification scheme, that is actively enforced, regulated, and is consistent. Ideally, any work your employees do will be in accordance to the accessibility regulations you put in place. While this seems quite simple, it’s only the first step in ensuring that your files are protected in this increasingly digital working environment that we find ourselves in.

One Critical Thing to Understand

It is impossible to pin down and create security policies for every single piece of sensitive data that you have within your organization, but the foundations of conventional data security are based on the ability of your security teams being able to identify where all your sensitive data is, classify this data, and set policies, rules, or admin-defined parameters to block this data from leaving the organization.

Of course, working remotely has ensured that these founding principles of traditional data security are just not possible. Working remotely means that it’s nigh on impossible for your security team, if you have one, to know where all your sensitive data is. Plus, working from home means you can’t control what tools your employees are using in their day to day working tasks. It also means you don’t necessarily know when an event occurs that endangers compliance.

According to a recent survey, 37% of employees use “unsanctioned” tools on a weekly basis to get their work done. Therefore, the way that we consider data security needs to shift in order to create new strategies for securing our sensitive data. Working from home isn’t going anywhere, and conventional methods of ensuring, that data loss prevention doesn’t happen are now mostly obsolete.

Though, with this in mind, there are some “must haves” for companies operating “as usual” while using online or cloud-based storage.

●       System Security Updates– anti-malware and standard security systems should be maintained and in place across all employee devices.

●       Network Limitations– where possible network limitations can be placed on your network (if you do have limited office time) to avoid websites that invite lessened security.

●       IT Expertise– security experts should be in place within the team to handle new challenges.

●       Vetting Vendors– all third party service providers should be checked before being enlisted.

Today’s workforce is mobile, self-sufficient, and here to stay. So, it’s important to keep up to date and conscious of how this is changing conventional data security procedures.

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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.