The Olympics, remote working and information security issues

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Thursday August 2, 2012 at 10:00am
During the Olympic period many staff will be working away from the office or their usual place of work, attempting to watch Team GB compete with the best of them. If you can afford to provide this flexibility for your staff I’m sure they will appreciate it.

However, there are some important information and data security issues to be considered before you give the go ahead for home or remote working. These points might be a useful starting point:

  1. A domestic dwelling may not be the most appropriate place to conduct business conversations. Do you want business conversations conducted over the kitchen table with members of the family listening in?

  2. If the work involves processing sensitive data then care should be taken to ensure that adequate security measures are adopted, for both hard copy information and data held on disc or accessed by computer.

  3. If employees are working via remote access to business applications, it may be wise to ensure that friends and neighbours can’t view private work.

  4. Business papers and confidential data should be carefully stored, ideally in a locked cabinet or password protected file. Many businesses operate a ‘Clear Desk Policy’ to avoid leaving sensitive or confidential information on show. You need something similar for your home workers.

  5. If work related documents need to be disposed of, the bin at home may not be appropriate. Use of a cross-cut shredder or indeed company supplied confidential waste bags is far more secure. provided business waste is transferred back to an authorised secure document destruction provider.

  6. It may seem obvious but you may need to provide guidance for employees on the use of mobile phones in public spaces. The number of times I have heard rather business sensitive subjects being debated at full volume over a mobile phone on a train or whilst walking down the street – is staggering.

A simple logical ‘risk assessment’ should be performed to consider the key areas that your business may be exposed to when employees partake in ‘home-working’ activity. You can then capture all of the issues and lay down requirements for the information security measures you expect of employees in a Remote Working Policy to be shared with all of them.

Over the years working with organisations to implement sound information security policies and procedures for home working we’ve helped with many risk assessments and remote working policies to ensure data is kept safe, systems are not compromised and staff are free to take advantage of the many benefits that remote working can deliver.

If you haven’t fully considered the security implications of allowing employees to work away from the office and put the necessary measures in place to keep your data and your system secure you might be better served by putting a TV in the corner of the office and showing the BBC coverage at work.

Marcus Allen
Parker Management Consultants

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