Five Ways to Ensure Remote Workers Are Sharing and Accessing Files Securely

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Establish policies and educate

The fact that nearly three-quarters of employees believe that IT approves of their mishandling of data is unacceptable. Businesses need to invest time in developing and implementing clear policies concerning information security and file sharing – including BYOD and CYOD policies or those that ban inherently insecure devices altogether. At a high-level, develop a policy that covers all areas of data sharing, then drill down into specific areas IT foresees security being a concern. For example, one company may be concerned with the amount of company data stored on personal devices. Another organization may be concerned with employees using personal email accounts to transfer large files. In both cases, it’s up to IT to uncover the risky practice, and provide an alternative that enables the users to conduct their business with little to no interruption in their work flow. Additionally, once a policy is in place, employees should be thoroughly educated around the risks and consequences of operating outside of compliance. It's safe to assume that most employees don't understand what is and isn't considered compliant, or that sharing confidential files through Gmail or Yahoo or storing sensitive data on their smartphones is risky business.

Emphasize that regulation requirements are applicable to all matters concerning company data regardless of what is accessed onsite or at a location outside the network. It is also important to understand that the education needs to be short, clear and related to the end users' actual business activities so they are compelled to participate in enactment and enforcement of the policies.

Security is a hot button issue for businesses of all sizes and across every industry. IT administrators are attempting to plug leaks, update systems, and plan ahead for new threats – hackers, viruses, and even the NSA make the short list of priorities. Unfortunately, this often leads IT to overlook possible threats posed by internal forces, especially those caused by accidental incidents, particularly related to securing and sharing data outside the business' network.

The number of remote workers in the U.S. increased by more than 80 percent from 2005 to 2012, and it's predicted that the number of telecommuters will increase to 3.9 million by 2016, a 21 percent jump from the current level, according to Global Workplace Analytics. A second study by Globalscape found that more than 60 percent of employees knowingly take home confidential data, storing it on insecure devices and accounts – 75 percent believing IT approves of their behavior.

The increase in organizations encouraging or offering telecommuting programs demonstrates a strong, immediate need for secure remote access and file-sharing strategies for the enterprise. Here are five ways businesses can implement and support a secure remote work force, as identified by James Bindseil, president and CEO of GlobalSCAPE, Inc.

 

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