How to Keep Your Company Data Safe When Employees Are Working in Remote and Hybrid Work Environments


With 40% of Britons now working in some kind of remote or hybrid working environment, it is now the preferred way to work for many people. However, employers have to be aware of the increased risks of data breaches and cyber attacks when people are no longer working in secure office environments.

With laptops and documents now left around the house and in coffee shops, this poses huge risks for multi-million-pound firms who cannot afford to lose customer data or have this information in the hands of the general public. The potential outcome can be catastrophic, not just from a cost perspective but a larger financial and brand reputation status too.

Here are several key strategies to keep your company data safe when employees work remotely or in hybrid settings.

Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

One of the first steps to secure remote connections is to use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). A VPN creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between an employee’s device and the company’s network, protecting data from interception by unauthorized parties. Encourage employees to connect to the company network through a VPN, especially when using public Wi-Fi or accessing sensitive information from remote locations.

Implement Strong Password Policies

Strong passwords are essential to preventing unauthorized access to company systems. Encourage employees to create complex passwords that include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. 

Implement a policy that requires employees to change passwords regularly and avoid reusing passwords across different accounts. Cyber experts Jumpec talk about the importance of multi-factor authentication (MFA) and how this can provide an additional layer of security by requiring a secondary form of verification, such as a text message or authentication app.

Secure Laptops and Mobile Devices

Laptops and mobile devices used for remote work are at a higher risk of theft or loss, potentially exposing sensitive company data. Employees should never leave their laptops unattended in public places and they should always lock their devices when not in use. Encourage the use of encryption to protect data stored on these devices. Additionally, use remote wipe capabilities to erase data if a device is lost or stolen.

Establish Formal Training and Procedures

Proper training is essential to ensure employees understand the importance of data security and their role in maintaining it outside of a traditional office space in London or anywhere else in the country.

Conduct regular security training sessions to educate employees about best practices, common threats (such as phishing attacks) and company-specific security policies. Develop clear procedures for reporting security incidents and ensure employees know who to contact in case of a breach or suspicious activity.

Use Secure File Sharing and Collaboration Tools

When working remotely, employees often need to share files and collaborate on projects. Encourage the use of secure file-sharing platforms with encryption and access controls. Discourage employees from using personal email accounts or unauthorized cloud storage services to share company files. Consider implementing document tracking and audit trails to monitor file access and changes.

Regularly Update Software and Systems

Keeping software and systems updated is crucial for data security. Ensure that employees regularly update their operating systems, applications and security software to patch vulnerabilities and prevent exploits. Automated update processes can help ensure that all devices are running the latest security patches. Encourage employees to avoid installing unauthorized software, which could contain malware or compromise system security.

Monitor Remote Access and Activity

Monitoring remote access and activity can help detect suspicious behavior and prevent data breaches, explains The TechNational. Use tools that allow you to track login attempts, device usage, and data transfers. Implement access controls to limit employee access to sensitive information based on their roles and responsibilities. This principle of “least privilege” reduces the risk of unauthorized access to critical data.

Develop a Remote Work Security Policy

Finally, create a comprehensive remote work security policy that outlines the company’s expectations for data security. This policy should cover the use of VPNs, password requirements, device security, file-sharing practices, and procedures for reporting security incidents. Ensure that all employees read and understand the policy, and consider having them sign an acknowledgment of their responsibilities.

In summary, protecting company data in remote and hybrid work environments requires a multi-faceted approach that combines technology, training, and robust policies. By implementing these strategies, businesses can reduce the risks associated with remote work and ensure the security of their sensitive information.

Tech Digest Correspondent