Data Privacy and Remote Work: Three Things Businesses Need to Know

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large-scale and abrupt shift in employee work habits from in-office to home-based work produced unforeseen dangers to data privacy in addition to logistical and cybersecurity issues for enterprises. It’s crucial for organizations to reduce the data privacy threats that could harm their operations as they concentrate on being effective and lucrative. Here are three measures that businesses can take right away to strengthen data security and support remote workers.

1. Take IoT Devices Out of the Office

Smart speakers and other IoT devices are gadgets that are constantly listening, even when users are not directly interacting with them. These devices have IP addresses and are connected to the internet. When an employee discusses sensitive or secret material at work from home, it is crucial that they are not being heard or recorded by IoT devices. The creators of these gadgets may not hold these audio records in confidence as they use them for training and other analyses. Since the use of these listening devices is optional, the user’s consent is taken for granted in terms of data privacy.

The conversations that listening devices overhear become the property of the business offering the IoT service, and neither the employer nor the employee has any control over them. Employees should disconnect or move these IoT devices when working from home to keep them away from areas where sensitive information is being discussed. As a result, there will be less chance of data being accidentally recorded or intercepted.

2. Be Wary of BYOD Regulations

Even before COVID-19, “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies at the workplace were a major source of conflict between businesses that desired better control over the data in their organizations while also recognizing that BYOD policies save money for the company because it need not make the hardware investment. Many businesses have made it possible for even more workers to access company resources via their desktops, laptops, mobile phones and tablets because they need to quickly ramp up work-from-home solutions.

Sensitive company data may be copied or kept on employees’ personal devices when they use their own equipment, which results in a loss of control by the firm over its data. Best practices must be established by businesses to enable BYOD while reducing privacy issues. Companies should create workflows whenever they can to stop company data from being saved to or kept on the devices of employees. To do this, businesses can deploy VPN access to networks, create dedicated spaces for employees to work together and preserve papers, limit the printing of sensitive or secret materials, and create procedures for removing sensitive data from employee devices as necessary.

3. Limit the Gathering and Storage of Employee Health Information

Companies that are concerned about the health of their employees during the COVID-19 public health crisis are now able to gather employee health-related data that was previously only shared in a doctor-patient medical environment. Employer health inquiries and the preservation of employees’ health information can pose a special data privacy concern even for remote workers.

An employee’s privacy rights could be violated, for instance, if other employees learn about their health situation. If employees are unclear about how their data is used and when the company should remove it, tracking wellness and other data via applications by employers can likewise compromise employee privacy. Companies should be open with their employees about how their health data will be used and how long it will be kept if they are required to collect it. It’s crucial to have the option to reduce data collection and erase data that is no longer required.

Proactive Measures to Lower Data Privacy Risks

It can be difficult to find solutions for the unintended data privacy risks that result from employees working from home, but companies can take proactive measures to address IoT devices, BYOD hardware usage, and the retention of employee health data right now to lower the risk of data privacy issues.

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Adrian Knapp

Adrian Knapp is the Founder and CEO of Aparavi Software. He has been Chairman of NovaStor Software for over 10 years. Before that, he was the founder and served as the Chief Executive Officer, President, and Member of the Management Board at Mount10 Holding AG. Mount10 went public on Neuer Markt in 2001. Mr. Knapp served as Exec. VP and Chairman of COPE Inc., which he co-founded. COPE was the first fully data storage-focused consulting and system integration firm in Europe and was listed on Nasdaq in 1999. 1991, he was also co-founder of Dicom AG, an international IT company that became DICOM PLC and went public on AIM London in 1995. Mr. Knapp holds a Degree in Business economics from GSBA Zurich.

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