The Role of A DPO During Work From Home
No one predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic would last this long and yet here we are. Welcome to 2021: where most of every nation’s workforce work from home. And while this set-up offers a wide array of benefits– flexible schedules, less commute stress, to name a few; it also has, some degree of disadvantages.
Reports show that cyberattacks have risen 600% as a result of the pandemic. It would seem that cybercriminals prefer to WFH too in the new normal. With employees being removed from their company’s direct supervision and cybersecurity umbrella, the risk of them succumbing to scams and nefarious schemes increases. Therefore, as important as ever, the role of a DPO during work from home could not be more overemphasized.
1. Maintain data protection across all company assets
Naturally, whenever a company creates a new way of accessing its data, they put their information at a greater risk. This drawback is greatly intensified in remote working setup as it can be hard for the organization to determine when and how the data is breached on their WFH-employee’s end.
Thus, your company’s Data Protection Officer should develop a strategy wherein all company assets released to remotely-working staff are well-protected. This may be in the form of a tried and tested data security software and/or a regular vulnerability assessment on your devices and network.
Many breaches have occurred from documents being left on trains, USB sticks falling out of someone’s pocket or laptops being stolen. A DPO may also set strict access rights to the data storage to mitigate damage from such scenario. Should a cyber criminal get hold of the employee’s work device, they would only be able to view a portion of your organization’s data.
Also Read: The Top 4W’s of Ethical Hacking
2. Conduct Online employee training
A study of CybSafe revealed that human error caused 90% of cyber data breaches in 2019. This was before the onset of the pandemic. As WFH employees are taken out of company’s direct supervision, human error inevitably increases. The role of a DPO during work from home should expansive enough to cover this predicament.
DPOs need to continue to bolster holistic data security by training employees and providing them with the knowledge they need to navigate company servers safely. Likewise, they should emphasize the importance of robust data security awareness while encouraging your team to take these matters seriously.
A way of educating your employees is by conducting a once-in-a-week online seminar/training about cybersecurity and your company’s data protection policy. Other topics may include; social engineering, phishing scams, password management, etc.
3. Develop a secured data transfer protocol
With your team working miles apart from each other, online data transfer is the most feasible mode of data exchange and correspondence. This would put the role of a DPO during work from home at the forefront of your operations; how do you ensure that all data transfers are on-time and unintercepted?
To protect a transferred data from being leaked, consider pseudonymisation or encryption. In the context of GDPR, the method of pseudonymisation involves masking of data by replacing identifying information with artificial identifiers. And while this is central in data protection, it also has its limits; which is why encryption is also important.
Like pseudonymisation, encryption obscures information by replacing identifiers with something else; but while pseudonymisation allows anyone with access to the data to view part of the data set, encryption allows only approved users to access the full data set.
4. Ensure effective documentation
Finally, your organization can control remote work risks through effective documentation implemented by your DPO. This would necessarily include keeping everything done by your WFH employees in black and white for easier tracking and monitoring. While this is primarily designed to improve your overall business operation, it would have a large impact on vulnerability assessment and incident investigation should there be an event of data breach.
The role of a DPO during work from home set-up is extremely crucial in not just keeping your company’s data secured but also in ensuring your adherence to data protection regulations- which, in the new normal, were not just retained but also amplified.
Through proper expansion of a DPO’s scope of work, remote working set-up through the pandemic could be easily adopted by your organization. Efficiently and securely.
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