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How EU Businesses Can Protect Their Data in the Era of Remote Work

11 January 2021, 17:32 CET

The remote work revolution has changed the way companies throughout the EU do business, from HR to meetings, collaboration to relationship building.

With the trend looking indefinite, if not permanent, companies are going to need to start planning for a world in which employees access all of the programs, files and data they need remotely. This poses unique and potentially grave cybersecurity threats. Below are some ways EU businesses can protect their data in the era of remote work.

Invest in Data Centre Storage

Many businesses, and especially small ones, make do with the security provided by the various cloud storage platforms they use. Some larger businesses have more robust in-house security maintained by a dedicated full-time team of IT specialists, and perhaps even supplementary in-house cybersecurity experts.

Another, more cost-effective option, however, available to businesses of all sizes, is to entrust sensitive data to a reputable data centre. Data centres are great ways to secure sensitive company data and do so in a hands-off way. Not only does housing your data in a data centre mitigate cybersecurity risks, but most are also insured against natural disasters, fires and other unforeseeable catastrophic events.

Educate Employees

Remote work means that most employees are going to be accessing company data and servers from their home while using personal devices. Unless remote employees have been given designated hardware for work-related use, this is a new risk that employers will have to address.

One of the first lines of defence for EU businesses should be targeted employee education that provides the necessary understanding of cybersecurity threats and best practices. This includes, among other things, informing employees what they are and aren’t allowed to download on personal devices, and how to spot phishing and malicious links. People almost always represent the biggest cybersecurity vulnerability in an organization.

Make Collaboration Apps as Secure as Possible

With the necessity and growth of remote work, collaboration applications such as Slack, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams have become essential tools for doing business. The problem is that these applications were never designed to be secure at the enterprise level--where not only the communication must be secured, but transmitted data must also remain safe on users’ devices. 

One way to fortify these apps against exploitation, misuse and accidents is to make sure the organization maintains firm control over who creates and administers communication channels. Another is to keep an eye on remote workers' use of these applications to guard against unauthorized data sharing.

Conclusion

While it looks like vaccine rollouts will have Europe on the path back to normalcy sometime during 2021, the remote work paradigm cannot and will not be reversed in the short term, and perhaps ever. People will continue to choose and be given the option to work from home long after a large scale return to the office becomes viable.

In order to plan for this indefinite world of remote work and the inevitable cybersecurity threats it presents, businesses need to make sure their data is safe, their employees are educated on the issues, and the organization maintains control of the transmission and storage of data at all levels.

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