3 Ways to Increase Data Compliance Among Remote Teams

While remote employees’ productivity and job satisfaction have increased, according to experts with Information Services Group, their ability to maintain compliance with increasingly stringent data protection regulations has suffered. With remote workers often doubling as their own IT support (and security sometimes taking a backseat), it’s way easier for sensitive data to accidentally land in the wrong hands.

To prevent noncompliance from causing a costly data breach, organizations must actively strive to increase data protection compliance among remote teams by practicing the strategies described below.

How to Improve Remote Team Data Compliance

1. Update Your Cybersecurity Policy

If your cybersecurity policy comes from a time before the outbreak of COVID-19, then it’s likely that it assumes all your employees are working in the same building – just one hallway away from your servers.

This type of policy probably doesn’t address the daily cybersecurity challenges remote workers face. Which is why it needs to be updated as soon as possible.

Some issues that need to be addressed in every cybersecurity policy include:  

  • Where employees are permitted to work. 
  • What devices are employees allowed to use. 
  • How employees access and store data. 
  • The steps employees are required to take when they detect a breach. 
  • What employees are expected to do to ensure a safe and secure work environment. 

It’s crucial to keep in mind that a comprehensive cybersecurity policy alone isn’t enough.  

For it to be truly effective, employees must be formally required to familiarize themselves with the policy. Additionally, they should be regularly reminded of its key points during security training sessions.

2. Equip Remote Employees with Technological Solutions

Remote employees need the right tools to do their jobs and be productive. From team communication to project management to file sharing, many routine activities can be significantly streamlined by equipping employees with software applications, like:

  • Microsoft Teams 
  • Monday.com 
  • Google Drive 

However, productivity gains don’t mean much if compliance with data protection regulations cannot be maintained.

The good news is that many easy-to-implement technological solutions can go a long way in helping employees keep sensitive business data secure.

Employees should always use a VPN when connecting to remote storage locations and applications. Doing so will help prevent unauthorized third parties from tracking their online activity and potentially even stealing private information.

Encryption tools such as Microsoft’s BitLocker or Apple’s FileVault can encrypt data at rest to combat physical theft.

3. Supercharge Your Security Awareness Program

The rise in remote working arrangements has shifted the responsibility for safeguarding sensitive data and systems to remote employees – who have only a vague understanding of the threats they face whenever they connect to the internet.

Because human error is the number one cause of data breaches, it’s vital for organizations to train their employees in cybersecurity. Even when they can’t physically gather in the same conference room.

Fortunately, online security awareness training sessions can be just as effective as their in-person counterparts.

Here are some topics organizations need to include in their security awareness program to help remote employees defend themselves against the latest and most dangerous online threats:

Bonus: Encourage Anonymous Reporting of Compliance Issues

When employees work remotely, they are far more likely to ignore potential compliance issues that would otherwise likely reach the management’s attention through informal discussions in the break room or formal reports.

To bring these issues to light, it’s a good idea to encourage anonymous reporting and provide employees with multiple reporting channels with varying levels of formality.

Employees should feel reassured that their issues will be heard and addressed as soon as possible. Otherwise, they may feel discouraged and end up not reporting future issues.

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