Big Data

How to keep data secure when working online

working online

Online security and privacy has become paramount in this increasingly digitally interconnected world. It’s of heightened importance to businesses in particular, who often have to deal with vast amounts of confidential or sensitive personal data every day.

But just as technology has become more advanced, so have the tactics of hackers trying to steal this information. Only last month, it was reported that a breach of payroll provider Zellis’ MOVEit file transfer tool resulted in tens of thousands of BBC, Boots and British Airways staff having their data compromised.

This growing problem has merely been exacerbated by the move towards remote working since the Covid-19 pandemic and the use of multiple devices across different locations, with 62% of employees aged 22 to 65 working remotely at least occasionally. Presented with a greater number of digital touchpoints, the criminals also have a larger attack surface to target.

The biggest issue is that because everyone is working on different devices with varying security levels, in some cases on their own personal machines, and with data held in many separate locations, they are more likely to be hacked. It makes it even harder to control security when people are working outside of the office and the protocols aren’t as stringent.

Secure online workspaces

The answer to the problem is to establish a centralised online workplace where all the data can be kept safe and secure in one location. One such solution is the online workspace.

While the primary function of these workspaces is to enable a more efficient way of working collaboratively online, they can also provide a greater degree of security. Most trusted and reliable online workspaces come with security features built in to protect their users’ data, including password protection, encryptions, multi-factor authentication, firewalls, and malware detection and prevention systems.

Password protection enables the user to set a password that is required if they want to access certain programs or data. The more complex the password, the less likely it will be hacked.

Data encryption uses a specific algorithm to make information unreadable to anyone who shouldn’t have access to it. It only allows authorised users to see the decoded versions of those files.

Multi-factor authentication requires the user to enter two or more codes or pieces of information into a security check before they are granted access to the file or system. These may include pin numbers, one-time passcodes or biometric fingerprinting.

Firewalls are set up as the first line of defence against cyberattacks. They protect systems and data from unauthorised access, while also stopping unwanted and malicious content from entering the online workspace.

Finally, malware detection and prevention are used to stop malware infections. Detection identifies, alerts and responds to such threats. It may come in the form of signature-based detection, checksumming (where a sequence of numbers and letters are used to check for data errors) and application allowlisting (which allows only trusted files, applications and processes to be run). Prevention typically takes the form of an anti-virus software and patching that stops malware from infecting a system.

Features to look for

As not every online workspace’s security is the same, it’s vital to choose one that provides the right level of protection. That requires doing some homework to see how they measure up.

The first feature to look for is the measures they have in place to protect against hackers. These include multi-factor authentication, complex passwords that are unique and contain at least 12 characters, and automatic sign-out.

It’s also key to look at what their customers say about them by reading reviews on their website and ratings and review sites. A quick online search can also reveal any stories in the press about them relating to their online safety and security record.

Being proactive

Once firms have put the right online workspace in place, it’s vital to maintain it. That means regularly checking current security protocols to make sure they are working as well as they can be and to keep upgrading them, as necessary.

To supplement this, companies need to continue to invest in training employees on the warning signs to look out for, and best practice for keeping the online workspace safe and secure. As more new risks and technologies come online, so they need to be kept updated of these too.

Given that 79% of workers already use collaboration tools such as online workspaces, according to Gartner, by not having one, businesses risk getting left behind. Not only will they be missing out on key efficiency gains, but also the ability to shore up their data security.

The fallout from a security breach can be devastating and take months or even years to recover from. But by having the right online workspace in place they can keep their personal data safe at all times.

Wayne Pope, Founder and CTO of award-winning Glasscubes, which specialises in enabling companies to collaborate with people inside or outside their organisation, using a rich set of tools from client portals, online workspaces, intranets and information gathering. Glasscubes helps well over 50,000 users in more than 100 countries to maximise their workforce’s potential through an online secure system. 

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