Work From Home Data Security Checklist for Employees

For many employers and employees alike, the sudden migration to a work from home (WFH) setup was a sudden and unprecedented shift. Business processes needed to be updated, proper protocols needed to be put in place, and all home offices needed to be equipped with the best hardware and software tools to successfully work from home. 

The work from home setup is still new to many businesses and because there are numerous challenges relating to this shift, data security can be unintentionally overlooked. Cybercriminals are well aware that businesses, as well as individuals, are vulnerable while they are still adjusting to working from home. In fact, reports state that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there have been 4000 cyberattacks every day targeting all types of businesses. The types of cyberattacks pertaining to unsecured data, devices, and networks include unauthorized access, sharing, and alteration of data. 

So, how confident do you feel about your work from home data security? If you’re not sure or you feel it could use some improvement, then this comprehensive guide can help.

A small caution sign placed over the enter key of a laptop

What is Data Security and Why is It Important?

Data security best practices are there to ensure that data is protected from unauthorized access, modification, and corruption. Data security is essential for businesses to run smoothly and serve their customers well. No matter the size the business is or what industry it belongs to, data loss, data breach, and data corruption can bring operations to a grinding halt. 

If your business is left to reactively deal with a data breach, recovering from such incidents will cost you time, money, and can even lead to a loss of trust from the customers – something that very few businesses can afford or recover from.  

Why You Need Updated Data Security Policies for WFH

Data security policies are there to help implement data security best practices on a company-wide level. Data security policies typically cover points such as:

  • Company hardware standards
  • Password standards and management
  • Platforms and tools used for sharing and communication
  • Actions to take in case of a cyberattack or data breach

In the traditional workplace or office setting, employees were all in the same controlled environment. Therefore, employees were making use of standardized devices and connecting to a secure office network. Most of the responsibility for data security fell on IT personnel as they kept the network and devices secured.

In a work from home environment, however, all employees have personal accountability over the security of their device-usage and that of their home network. As your business adapts to the work from home setup, you may need to have new platforms for communication and collaboration and your policies will also need to define and limit how these platforms are used to ensure total work from home data security. This is precisely why updated data policies are necessary.

The following security checklist will cover some work from home data security best practices to help you get started:

Work From Home Data Security Checklist

1. Awareness Regarding Cyberattacks and Next Steps in Case of An Attack

One of the first lines of defence against cyberattacks is employee awareness. Organizing a training session regarding cyberattacks can go a long way. Make sure to cover the following points:

  • Sources and signs of cyberattacks
  • Different types of malware
  • How to avoid risky downloads and websites
  • How to avoid phishing scams

Furthermore, your data security policy must contain what next steps to take if a cyberattack or data breach is detected. Swift action in such cases can save your business from further loss. 

2. Minimum Password Requirements and/or Password Management

Implementing stronger passwords for work-related accounts can go a long way – especially because the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in brute-force attacks. In fact, in the United States alone, the number of brute force attacks jumped from 200,000 before the pandemic to 800,000 as the pandemic spread during mid-March 2020.  This hacking method uses every single password to eventually arrive at the correct one. Weak passwords are therefore at a heightened risk of being cracked. 

As an added password security measure, you can look into tried-and-tested password managers. Password management software gives added security by securely generating and saving passwords for use across multiple devices. Some password management software, like LastPass, even features a security dashboard that can give alerts regarding weak passwords and dark web monitoring which watches all accounts related to an email address and alerts for any breach activity.

re that employees are working on standard company-approved devices instead of doing work on their personal devices. As an employer, you have no control over how personal devices are used, what is downloaded on them, and what websites it visits. This can open up the device to malware threats which will then leave company data compromised if stored in the said device. 

An employee working from home in her living room

3. Company-Approved Devices with Secure Settings

Make sure that employees are working on standard company-approved devices instead of doing work on their personal devices. As an employer, you have no control over how personal devices are used, what is downloaded on them, and what websites it visits. This can open up the device to malware threats which will then leave company data compromised if stored in the said device.

Company-approved devices should have the following settings for better security:

  • A strong password
  • Antivirus software
  • Should run on an updated, supported operating system
  • Should have a short timeout period which locks the device immediately when idl

4. Secure Home Networks 

As part of your data security policies, discourage employees from using public Wi-Fi when using a company device or when accessing a work-related account. These networks are extremely prone to hacking. If the use of public Wi-Fi hotspots cannot be avoided, top-notch enterprise-level VPNs like NordVPN Teams, Perimeter81, and Torguard can provide security.  

However, home Wi-Fi connections are not automatically secure. Make sure that all employees have changed the default Wi-Fi password on their router and are using a new, stronger password. 

5. Secure Channels for Communication and Sharing

Establishing effective communication processes and tools is one of the most common challenges when adapting to a work from home setup. Additional platforms for meetings and collaborations may be introduced.

Though these platforms may be secure for meetings, they are not automatically safe for document sharing – in fact, they may have a “potential security vulnerability.” This is the very reason why one of the most trusted and popular meeting platforms, Zoom, disabled the file-sharing feature. With this in mind, encourage employees to be wary of file-sharing features on other similar meeting platforms. Instead, stick to using services intended for file sharing – such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box

6. Consider Getting 24/7 Managed IT Services

Looking for an added layer of data security for your business? Then the comprehensive Managed IT Services offered by Integr8 is the solution for you! Managed IT Services gives your business access to highly-experienced IT experts who can help you in refining your data security. Additionally, you will also have access to updated tools that will enable your business to detect and respond to any kind of malicious threat faster.

With Managed IT Services, you will have access to round-the-clock expert IT assistants. Any time an employee encounters an issue, you can rest assured that they will get the support they need. 

If you would like to learn more about Managed IT services and what it can do for your business in the work from home or office setup contact us today!

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