Companies must ensure that data security is at the top of their boardroom agenda as they prepare to operate in a hybrid working environment permanently. They must also ensure that their security policy and data management best practises are effectively communicated.
Prior to the pandemic, IBM’s 2020 ‘ Work from Home Study’ found that more than 80% of respondents either rarely or never worked remotely. The tendency has now shifted in the opposite direction. More than half of the same respondents are now working remotely, with the majority utilizing corporate IT equipment, though some are using personal devices. This shift frequently occurs without new security rules, guidelines or tools in place to assist employees in properly securing their devices and understanding which protocols to follow for protecting sensitive data.
Employers are concerned about the increasing risks of data breaches connected with the specific vulnerabilities of a scattered workforce as a result of this shift in working patterns.
This trend toward remote working is likely to continue. So, what can businesses do to improve their security posture in a hybrid working environment?
Tracking IT Assets to Protect Data
The attack surface has grown due to a lack of employee supervision and training, data sharing between personal and corporate IT assets, and security policies that aren’t up to date or conveyed effectively.
To meet this new normal, all companies concerned with data privacy and security must acknowledge the need to adapt data management methods and security policies. Data policies and processes should be changed to better meet the prevailing circumstances, given the heightened risk in a remote context.
Tracking all IT assets that process or store company or customer data or PII is an often forgotten aspect. Any IT asset that holds sensitive data, whether it’s a personal or company-owned device, is a potential risk. When it comes to securely sanitizing the data on it, keeping track of all IT assets implies that all traces of that data can be accounted for.
Tracking the data
Companies should implement a data retention strategy to limit how long data is held and how data is handled at end-of-life to make tracking IT assets and data more efficient. These two points should be effectively communicated to all staff.
The popular belief is that all data generated is valuable and should be saved; nevertheless, retaining data beyond its intended lifecycle raises the risk. Organizations must actively analyze data lifecycles because of data beyond retention terms, data processed in remote offices, temporary copies, and poorly managed data centres, to name a few.
Organizations face new difficulties as the world shifts to a permanent hybrid working environment, such as employees accessing sensitive data externally from a storage unit or core server. The odds of sensitive data falling into the wrong hands are greatly decreased with asset monitoring and a regulated data retention period in place.
Managing Data at the End of Life
A thorough data retention strategy must include a regulatory-compliant data sanitization procedure for redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT) data, as well as auditable methods. Bad actors cannot rebuild or access information that has been properly and completely destroyed. Data security is a journey with many vital components, but active data sanitization is a must.
Data management and sanitization can be complicated by the distinction between local and remote storage. Remote erasure solutions, as well as frequent corporate data audits, tracking, and accounting for all data shared between a remote workforce, can help to reduce the risk of data breaches.
Human error is the most common cause of data breaches, so all employees should be familiar with the company’s data management policy. Second, companies should verify that assets and data are tracked with a thorough audit trail when using a combination of personal and professional IT equipment. Finally, establishing a data retention policy that includes controlled data sanitization at end-of-life is critical to safeguarding sensitive data.
Companies that do not update their security policies to reflect these changes risk permanently damaging their reputation, brand, and bottom line.
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