Your data is one of your most valuable assets, and you need to keep it secure. When a majority of your staff is working remotely, that can seemingly complicate things. How can you ensure that your remote team is following best practices? The solution is training and having best practices in place.
Do You Know Where Your Organization’s Data Is?
If you lose control of your data, you can lose control of your business. Let’s look at a theoretical, yet highly-possible scenario:
Let’s say you have a team member who builds proposals every day. They work in Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign, and then export the proposal as a PDF to send to the client. When this person was working in the office, they would store the editable Publisher/InDesign document on the server in the appropriate customer folder, along with the PDF. That way, if something were to happen, anyone with access could edit or work on that proposal.
Let’s now assume that this person is working remotely on their own PC. You may have granted them the ability to use a VPN (or virtual private network) to remotely access the network, but either they weren’t trained properly, or they decided it wasn’t necessary. Either way, they are now storing the documents on their own personal laptop. Suddenly, you don’t control that data. You don’t back it up. You aren’t ensuring that it is safe. That’s pretty scary, right?
Okay, let’s not assume this team member is a total knucklehead, and they use their own Dropbox or Google Drive account to store these proposals in the cloud. That’s one step in the right direction, but two steps backwards. Now your data is stuck in a cloud account that your business doesn’t control. It’s probably safe there, but that really depends on how secure that account is, who has access to it, and a number of other variables.
Either way, it’s outside of your sphere of influence.
Oh, and if that team member takes a vacation, nobody can access the files. If that team member quits, nobody can access the files. They are as good as gone.
Ensuring that your staff has the ability to securely VPN into the network and work with files and applications in your environment is only half the battle. The other half is training and enforcing it.
How to Ensure Your Remote Workforce is Working on the Network
Depending on your business, and what your people need to do, there are several different ways remote workers will stay connected. If an employee just needs access to email and VoIP, you might not have them remote into your network. If they work with sensitive information and applications that you run in-house, they may need to connect to the VPN to work remotely. Either way, expectations need to be clear, and training needs to be provided.
It’s also important to acknowledge any grievances or issues your staff runs into. If remoting in is too laggy, employees are going to make their own workarounds, and it might not be what you want. It’s better to address the issues with lagging than deal with the headache that a workaround can cause.
It’s a Good Idea to Review the Integrity of Your IT
Chances are, your business has made some changes over the last couple of years. Whether you are still in flux or you feel like your company has settled in, it’s a good time to take a look at your IT and review things with a fine-toothed comb.
The most important step you can take to protect your data is to ensure that you maintain a safe and secure environment and the best way to do so is to keep your data separate. Reviewing permissions, who has access to what, and working to restrict access is a good first step. Ensure that your team understands the importance of following procedures and help guide them when there are missteps.
Don’t Neglect Your Backup
Backing up your data and ensuring that you can recover from a major data loss event is more important than ever. If you aren’t backing up that data, having a backup will do little good. Reviewing your backup and ensuring that your staff can survive off the data in the backup is a good exercise.
If Your Detroit Business has Embraced Remote Work, It’s a Good Time to Audit Your IT
Offering staff the ability to work remotely has been a huge boon for many Michigan businesses, but that doesn’t mean the responsibility to secure your data and provide an effective IT infrastructure for employees to work on goes out the window. If you need help reviewing your IT, or just want a second opinion, we’re happy to help. Give us a call today at 248.545.0800 to schedule an appointment to learn more about protecting your data and developing a backup and recovery plan you can depend on.