Homeworking and Data: Everything You Need To Know

The COVID pandemic has had a significant impact on the way people work both now and for the future. As organisations rushed to set up their employees at home when the first lockdown was announced in the UK in March, few could have foreseen that homeworking would become the ‘new normal’. Not many employees returned to their offices during the periods of lesser restrictions and now that we are back in lockdown homeworking is back in force. Remote working is here to stay.

Homeworking and the Implications for GDPR

While companies and employees have had time to establish proper working practices and familiarise themselves with a new way of life, many of the implications have taken time to manifest themselves. Data, how it is handled and the potential risks for breaches, has become even more of a cause for concern. With GDPR comes the threat of fines and penalties for non-compliance and breaches as well as the cost of interruption to business and the associated reputational risk. Having employees working from home only increases this risk, so it is vital to address any issues to minimise the chances of GDPR being compromised: if best practice can be proven to have been followed the sanctions may be more lenient.

A recent report by the insurer Allianz found that “exposures have been rising during the pandemic, given the increase in remote working and the likelihood that security safeguards may not be as robust in the home office.” It also notes that the intergovernmental police organisation INTERPOL has seen an increase of 50% in phishing, scams, and fraud, and of 30% in malware and ransomware incidents since the move to homeworking. This is not a problem that is going to go away. And with a 2019 ClickZ survey reporting that almost 42% of US marketers believe that data protection, privacy and regulations would be the biggest challenge to keep on top of, we can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to be, and to stay, GDPR compliant.

How to Stay on Top of Data with Remote Working

Human error accounts for a large proportion of data breaches and this is compounded by remote working. Employees are harder to monitor to check that the necessary precautions are being taken. Software may not get updated when necessary. Permissions may be given to people who don’t need them. Employees can make mistakes leading to a data breach, but if they are working from home it can be even harder to establish when and how it happened. By making sure robust processes are in place, issues can be minimised by using employee education, secure systems and the proper GDPR protocols.

It goes without saying that an organisation’s remote application systems need to be secure and GDPR compliant. Employers need to provide, and be confident that employees are following, policies, procedures and guidance that are clear and consistent. Ensuring that simple things like unique and complex passwords are used, that software updates are applied, and that only key staff have access to certain information are key. Employees should be using company technology wherever possible to minimise the risk of mixing company data with personal data, or accidentally keeping it. Printouts should be shredded when necessary and confidentiality considered when using screens and having work conversations at home.

GDPR Software to Reassure You and Your Clients

So how can you be sure your employees at home are following the correct protocols and that your organisation is, and remains, GDPR compliant? And don’t forget, it’s not just your company and the legislation that want to be assured of GDPR compliance; your customers want to be convinced too. 66% of customers claim they would not deal with a company that is not demonstrably GDPR compliant and with Brexit we do not expect this figure to go down!

You can manage your entire data protection process with one simple solution, iCaaS’s GDPR software. We can get you up and running with systems to prove and monitor your GDPR compliance in as little as 48 hours. You’ll get a data compliance rating across all elements of your business that can be published on your website so that counterparties can instantaneously see they can trust you. The software creates a body of evidence as proof and our ongoing monitoring process gives you alerts, reminders, or guidance necessary should your score drop. With homeworking here to stay, now is not the time to be complacent. Please get in touch to find out how we can help protect you and your employees from data breaches, costly fines and reputational risk in the new homeworking environment.

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