In a recent global analysis of remote work, 16 percent of businesses now hire only remote workers, according to OWL Labs. As more people make the move to working online and the remote business trend grows, there are still many cautions to heed when running a remote company.
When considering the handling of sensitive data, those who own and work for remote businesses should understand the dangers of storing information online and how easily that data can be stolen if the correct measures aren’t in place.
The data your company stores can be breached in several ways. Employees can accidentally or intentionally expose sensitive data. A worker rushing out to lunch could leave client data on his computer screen or could transmit information over an unsecured network. Stored data is also vulnerable to malware and viruses that may come from outside the company. And if the information is removed from a safe workplace, it runs the risk of being stolen or lost in transit, so any company that allows employees to take work home physically or virtually compounds the potential risk of compromise.
Although the reminders may seem endless and irritating, it is vital to keep any anti-virus and firewall protection current by installing each and every update that becomes available.
Web applications can be especially vulnerable when updates are ignored. One particular threat called the “injection attack” involves the insertion of malicious commands into what appears to be a valid information request, but once access to the system is gained, sensitive data is easily transferred from a company’s network into a hacker’s virtual hands. Ensuring that all security and applications are completely current is the surest means of preventing such threats from becoming reality.
Keeping the gates to your data secure is only part of the battle. Encryption is also necessary in the event that those guarded gates are penetrated. Encrypting financial accounts, personnel files, and product details will ensure that any hacker lucky enough to break into a business’ system does gain access to sensitive information will find that sensitive information to be indecipherable.
Any reputable business understands that it bears the responsibility for safeguarding credit and debit information. In order to keep it safe, using Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption when transmitting or receiving financial data ensures that the information is protected while in transit. Since Mastercard and Visa require online companies accepting their cards to verify that safety standards have been achieved, meeting their requirements likely means your online operation is at least moderately secure.
One of the most effective defenses against sensitive data theft is also one of the simplest – identity theft protection. For business owners, the sensitive data of both customers and remote employees is at risk, so both customers and employees alike can benefit from identity theft protection. Services like LifeLock use monitoring technology and alert systems to track an individual’s data, and if that data is stolen, provide assistance in restoring data.
The business world is becoming increasingly remote, which means companies must become increasingly vigilant about remote data theft and information security. By anticipating what is at risk, updating anti-virus protection and applications, encrypting all sensitive data, and defending the vital information your company stores, you can ensure your business will continue to thrive despite the threat of cybercrime.