Information Security for Managing Remote Projects

Today’s technology allows project managers to enjoy some of the greatest benefits of working remotely. Remote teams bring people from different locations and even countries together without the need for them to physically be in the same place.

While this is undoubtedly great as it lets a company make use of the experience and knowledge of people from different cultures, remote work also has some inherent threats to the project’s integrity and, first and foremost, data security.

It is the responsibility of the project manager as well as every team member to keep business information safe. These several tips will help you do that!

1. Encrypt the work-related data

Being able to work from one’s favorite café is just one of the great things about remote working and many employees use this opportunity to the fullest.

However, it often leads to employees losing their devices or having them stolen. If such a thing occurs, sensitive business data may fall into the wrong hands and be used in nefarious purposes.

To protect the company’s data from it, you can either fasten the device to the worker’s wrist with handcuffs – which isn’t an option in most workplaces – or tackle the problem from a different direction. Namely, encrypting the data on that device so that it can only be accessed by providing a password is a practically fail-proof solution.

If the sensitive data is protected this way, it will be of no use to whoever finds or steals a device because they won’t have the password. Of course, the password must not be stored in a text file on the home screen. Which brings us to the next point.

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2. Ensure password best practices

Weak and repeating passwords are a true bane of company and personal cybersecurity. If an employee uses the same password for several accounts and writes it down on a piece of paper attached to their monitor, it is a very serious security risk because anyone can notice it and use it break into the system.

It’s necessary to ensure that such a thing doesn’t happen. First of all, a good password should:

·         Be at least 8 characters long

·         Contain lower and uppercase letters, digits, and special symbols.

No employee must ever share their passwords with anyone including other workers of the same company to prevent data leaks. Writing passwords down is also a bad idea, especially when working remotely. A password manager should be used instead.

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3. Secure the network

One of the biggest threats to a company’s cybersecurity is man-in-the-middle attacks. This type of cyberattack is carried out when a hacker gets between the two or more parties communicating over the internet and spies on the information they exchange.

It’s not hard to guess where the danger lies in such a case. The hackers can disclose sensitive data they acquire this way, harming the company’s reputation. For example, if the bad actor gets a hold on your client’s personal information and uses it for identity theft or similar malevolent purpose, your prospective customers will have second thoughts about choosing your services.

Additionally, the exchanged data can be altered by the hacker in the middle of a conversation and sent to the recipient. This can result in misinformation and further disruption of the business operations due to it.

Remote projects are especially vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks. Since the participants are not in the same place, their communication has to happen via several networks: e.g., including the Wi-Fi network, one of the employees is using while working at home. It creates more opportunities for hackers to inject themselves into the conversation.

Therefore, protective measures must be taken in such an environment. Any remote project requires the use of a corporate virtual private network (VPN). This technology secures the connection between the worker’s device and the business network via the means of end-to-end encryption.

4. Require the use of company-issued devices

BYOD or bring your own device is an increasingly popular approach is business. It removes the stress of having to worry about losing two devices instead of just one for workers as well as keeps the costs down for the company as it doesn’t need to provide the employees with additional gadgets.

Indeed, the benefits of BYOD are quite considerable. However, this practice makes it harder for the management to control how tight a given employee’s security is.

Recommended article: BYOD in the Workplace: Benefits, Risks and Insurance Implications

While not without its flaws, issuing separate devices to your remote team can mitigate some of the security risks. Of course, it shouldn’t be done just to check the box – the devices must be thoroughly protected not to allow any security issues.

By doing it, a company can ensure that the passwords an employee uses are strong enough, that the encryption and VPN work as intended, and make sure that nothing is out of order more easily.

What other ideas for securing the workflow in remote projects have you tried? Be sure to let us know!

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