Remote workforce? Stay secure while preventing data leaks

5 min read
Working remotely

Working remotely

Businesses worldwide rapidly shifted to a remote workforce in 2020, in response to social distancing measures introduced to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While many governments initially announced measures lasting up to several weeks, it quickly became clear that this would continue for a prolonged period. So how did companies handle this sudden change?

The unplanned move to a remote workforce meant that many organizations had to adapt quickly and explore new ways of working. Some of these changes optimize business efficiency but ideally also relieve pressure or reduce stress among staff, which is especially key now. 

The nature of the CISO or CIO role can at times seem very reactive, especially when companies have transitioned suddenly to remote working. Your IT department has probably already secured enough VPN connections, arranged equipment for staff and sent out company-wide reminders about best practices for cybersecurity hygiene. 

That’s great and also ticks a number of necessary boxes. Now what?

A proactive approach to email security

Most organizations will experience a data leak this year, while many will incur multiple incidents. You’ve likely already encountered data leaks in your role and know the frustration it can cause for all involved. The good news is that there are steps you can take to tackle this issue proactively and make data leaks at your organization largely a thing of the past. 

Data leak prevention in 5 steps

We have compiled some work from home security tips for office workers, which you can read here, but it is even more important to have a strong IT security foundation in place. Below are actions we recommend organizations should take to improve their outbound communication security.

Develop a clear security policy: this is fundamental in order to provide guidelines for everyone to follow. This should cover everything from basic rules such as locking your laptop, to how to handle customer data.

Ensure devices and passwords are secure: many people confess to using their personal devices to access work emails even when it’s not allowed, presenting its own set of security challenges.

Regularly raise security awareness among staff: educating staff on best practices is not a one-off exercise, it must be done regularly to be most effective. We have compiled some tips here on how your organization can establish a culture of security awareness.

Comply with privacy-related legislation such as GDPR: in effect now since May 2018, it’s hard to justify not being compliant these days, and seemingly the authorities feel the same. Enforcement of GDPR is increasing, both in terms of the fines issued to offenders and the monitoring of potential violations.

Choose the right secure communication platform: with so many of us now working from home, tools designed to catch mistakes before they are made can play a key role in improving business efficiency. The right security platform can help you simultaneously protect data as well as people. It’s a quick win that yields long term benefits.

Hybrid and remote working distractions can vary

With a robust secure communication platform, you can help boost efficiency while drastically reducing the possibility of an unintended data leak. And let’s face it, many people have plenty of reasons to be distracted while working from home right now. Here are just a few.

  • Kids are home all day (hopefully they are not trying to play around with your laptop, that’s a potential breach right there) 

  • fretting if your dog has been exercised enough, so that he won’t start barking while you’re on a Zoom call with your boss

  • all the extra home deliveries for anything from food to Amazon orders, and not always at an ideal time

Distractions cause temporary lapses in concentration. This is true whether you are a surgeon in the operating room or a customer service agent now working remotely. These interruptions can naturally impact the quality of work that’s done, potentially causing mistakes that could’ve been easily avoided. 

Protect against insider and outsider data security threats

Research has shown that in 2020, workers handled on average nearly 130 emails per day. This volume of correspondence naturally increases the odds of an occasional mishap. People may even fall prey to malicious hackers using the pandemic as a means to exploit potential weaknesses in your company’s security. Sophisticated actors can occasionally trick even security savvy people. Look no further than the 2018 attack on Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, after he clicked on a malicious file sent to him via Whatsapp. 

These types of security threats are important to address, but actually account for a lower proportion of breaches overall. Most data breaches are mistakes caused by employees. In fact, according to figures from the ICO in the UK, more than 14,000 accidental data leaks occurred in 2019. That’s 14,000 stressful situations that could have largely been prevented, not to mention the GDPR fines incurred as a result.

Empower staff to catch and correct their mistakes

The most common errors when emailing include attaching the wrong document, improper use of CC when BCC should be applied, or simply sending the communication to the wrong person. These incidents are so common because practically everyone’s done it before, with varying degrees of frequency (and embarrassment level) of course. 

While these mistakes can be relatively harmless between colleagues, other incidents must be reported to the national privacy authorities as a data leak under the GDPR. This depends on the content inadvertently shared and with whom.

Zivver’s secure communication platform helps to prevent stressful situations by empowering users with real-time visual prompts using smart technology. This technology gently alerts the user about potential mistakes in their email communication before they hit the send button. And we don’t mean pointing out innocuous typos. 

An error-prevention solution your staff will actually want to use

Zivver’s user-friendly service has been sophisticatedly designed to secure each stage of an email or file transfer’s journey (before, during and after the communication is sent). It’s what we call ‘’Triple Safe Technology’’.

The secure communication platform also integrates seamlessly with popular email clients such as Outlook, OWA, and Gmail, so your colleagues can use what they are already comfortable with. It’s intuitive for users while being extremely effective. 

There’s truly no reason to be causing data leaks anymore. Doing so is more consequential than ever under the GDPR, plus it takes up valuable time and energy that could be spent elsewhere.

With Zivver, you’ll benefit from the peace of mind of knowing that employees can communicate securely and efficiently, while preventing stressful and costly situations involving data mishandling. 

After all, we could all use one less thing to worry about these days. 




Written by

Kate O'Neill

Originally published on April 20, 2020

Last update on July 29, 2021