9 Data Privacy Risks for Home Workers (and How to Fix Them)

As a growing number of employees begin working from home, data privacy is once again a major concern for organisations in both the public and private sectors. Here, we take a look at nine different digital threats faced by home workers and provide a secure solution for each and every one.

  1. Unsecured WiFi networks

Problem: Unsecured WiFi networks allow malicious actors to view your network activity, collect sensitive data and access files. While most home WiFi networks are password secured, many public or shared networks (such as those in libraries or cafes) aren’t. This exposes remote workers to all kinds of dangers.

Solution: Employees need to be educated on network security and the difference between a secured and unsecured network should be explained. Employees must know how to distinguish one from the other and understand that no work should ever be carried out on an unsecured WiFi network.

9 Data Privacy Risks for Home Workers (and How to Fix Them)

  1. Remote working scams

Problem: As more and more organisations establish home working systems, the number of malicious actors running phishing and whaling scams is likely to increase. These scams aim to trick employees into revealing sensitive data or providing access to important networks.

Solution: Training on how to spot remote working scams should be provided to all employees working from home. Additionally, organisations should stay up to date with the latest scams and provide staff with communication guidelines. These guidelines will detail the things a member of staff should never reveal via digital communication channels.

  1. Dangerous software

Problem: Some pieces of software simply aren’t designed to be as secure as others. This may be due to design faults or it may be because the software designer has an interest in harvesting valuable data.

Solution: Organisations should aim to only utilise software that has an excellent reputation for security and that meets all established internal security recommendations.

9 Data Privacy Risks for Home Workers (and How to Fix Them)

  1. Real-world, physical security breaches

Problem: It’s not just cyber-attacks you’ve got to be aware of, we still work and operate in the real world – even if it is remotely. This means that you need to understand how you’re vulnerable in a non-digital sense, too.

Solution: When printing, it’s vital that you don’t leave sensitive documents lying around and that your papers aren’t picked up by anyone else. Similarly, try not to commit sensitive information, such as passwords or PINs, to paper. While a post-it note may seem harmless, it can provide a malicious actor with all they need to compromise your digital systems.

  1. Non-encrypted chat software

Problem: As employees make the switch to home working, many will start to use new chat apps for the first time. In some instances, they’re an excellent organisational and collaborative tool. However, not all chat apps are equal, with some designed for personal use and others designed for professional environments. The key difference is whether they are end-to-end encrypted or not.

Solution: In a professional context, you should, under no circumstances, communicate via a chat app that is not end-to-end encrypted. If they’re not encrypted, your messages can be intercepted and read. On some unencrypted chat platforms, every message sent is dredged for valuable data, making it a remarkably insecure means of communication.

9 Data Privacy Risks for Home Workers (and How to Fix Them)

  1. Compromised passwords

Problem: Remote working is highly dependent on cloud technology for access to key files. The vast majority of these file sharing applications are protected by passwords that, were they to be cracked, would give hackers access to all of the organisation’s internal documents and data.

Solution: Practice intelligent password management. Never use the same password twice, as all a hacker has to do is crack your Instagram password and they have access to all of your work documents and communications. If you’re unable to keep track of all those passwords, a password manager like LastPass is a great option.

  1. Data loss

Problem: Now more than ever, data is stored digitally, without a physical backup. This means that data loss can be a big issue. If your files are deleted in a ransomware attack, accidentally, or through physical damage to your hardware, you could lose everything.

Solution: The solution to this problem is to back up your data on a regular basis. You can do this in two ways – either backup the data on your computer or backup to the cloud. Both types of backup are secure, though the latter is becoming increasingly popular due to the associated access benefits.

9 Data Privacy Risks for Home Workers (and How to Fix Them)

  1. Viruses and malware

Problem: Since the advent of the internet, viruses and malware have been a serious problem. As more people log on to carry out sensitive work tasks, we can expect to see an explosion in the number of threatening viruses circulating across the internet.

Solution: The most efficient form of defence in this situation is antivirus software. In the vast majority of cases, employers will provide respected antivirus software as part of their remote working package. If they don’t, employees should raise the issue. Another important defence mechanism against viruses and malware is ensuring you regularly update your software. Developers often release updates to protect their software from the latest viruses, so keep your systems up to date.

  1. Privacy concerns for employers who monitor

Finally, employers need to be aware of the way their digital technology impacts on employees, too. The COVID-19 crisis has seen record numbers of people working from home, many of which are now subject to monitoring by corporate productivity software.

While this technology provides unprecedented access to employees’ lives and helps organisations ensure that their staff members are working as desired, there are also likely to be legal battles in the future over its legitimacy. Currently, monitoring software is unregulated and extremely useful. However, organisations must be aware that this may not always be the case and that they should not rely solely on this type of technology, as its future is uncertain.

9 Data Privacy Risks for Home Workers (and How to Fix Them)

What Next?

As you can see, digital security in the home working context is both complex and challenging to manage. However, as long as you ensure that you’re working alongside digital security specialists who understand the risks, there’s no reason why you can’t implement a secure and safe home working system at a relatively low cost.

Our expert team have been providing customer self-service solutions for over 25 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line to find out more.