Mastering Data Privacy Compliance During Remote Work

The business world is becoming increasingly information-driven — Statista estimates that global data creation will grow to over 180 zettabytes by 2025.

A significant factor driving the growth of worldwide data creation is the push for remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people worked or attended school virtually and became more dependent on home entertainment systems. 

Businesses with remote or hybrid employees face many challenges, including managing the volume of data produced on a home network. All types of companies, such as health care services, retailers, and educational and financial institutions, work with massive amounts of sensitive data that may fall under specific privacy laws.

How can companies protect themselves and their customers and remain compliant during this paradigm shift to remote work? Below are some specific tips businesses can refer to when mastering data privacy compliance in their industry.

1. Update Remote/BYOD Cybersecurity Policies

A cybersecurity policy for remote workers should include methods to keep sensitive business data safe. It does not have to be a long, complex document full of IT jargon.

Instead, it should use simple, plain language so all employees across the organization can understand it. Various online resources allow companies to access free cybersecurity policy templates for remote workers, which can be very helpful.

2. Leverage Data Encryption

Data encryption is a tried-and-tested cybersecurity method many organizations use, and it can help companies remain compliant with privacy laws. Remote teams often store information online so the entire company can access it freely. However, this can expand a company’s attack surface and increase its security vulnerabilities.

Encrypting data makes it inaccessible or incomprehensible to hackers. Only people with a decryption key can access it. Many types of encryption software can help organizations protect sensitive data.

3. Use VPNs and 2FA

Two other essential data protection measures for remote work are virtual private networks (VPNs) and two-factor authentication (2FA). VPNs send information through an encrypted tunnel and mask a user’s IP address to allow them to browse and use the internet anonymously.

2FA, as its name suggests, requires employees to use two authentication methods to log into online accounts. For example, a user may enter their username and password on a laptop. Their account will also require authentication by sending a code to their smartphone. The worker enters the code onto their computer to access their account. 2FA and VPNs are essential data protection methods in a remote work environment. 

4. Invest in Secure Password Managers for Employees

Password managers are responsible for storing login credentials for various online accounts or software applications employees use daily. 

Password managers encrypt login information and keep it safe. They also prevent employees from using the same password for every account, a common practice that increases cybersecurity risks. 

5. Educate Remote or Hybrid Employees

Educating employees about the importance of securing sensitive information is crucial. Many data breaches result from human error. Therefore, implementing comprehensive, thorough cybersecurity training can help reduce those errors. 

For example, employees need to understand how to remotely connect to the company network while also following the best security practices to protect themselves and the company. Remote workers may not understand how to practice good cybersecurity hygiene in the high-risk digital landscape. Training is becoming increasingly important for all organizations. 

6. Research Applicable Data Privacy Laws 

Lastly, a key to data compliance is researching existing privacy laws that apply to one’s organization or industry. Privacy laws will vary depending on the sector. Understanding what rules apply to the company is vital for mastering compliance.

For example, many businesses must secure customer credit card data and follow Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS). Organizations must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in a health care setting. Other significant privacy laws include the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Understanding these tips will help businesses master data privacy compliance in an ever-changing, high-risk cybersecurity landscape.

Prioritize Data Privacy Compliance

Modern companies may find it challenging to keep data secure and remain compliant with privacy laws in today’s new working environment. Businesses and remote or hybrid employees reap many benefits, but data protection and cybersecurity are major drawbacks of out-of-office work. However, keeping client or customer information secure is a top priority for businesses.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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