COVID-19: Are You Protecting Your Employees’ and Clients’ Data?

COVID-19: Are You Protecting Your Employees’ and Clients’ Data?

If your employees are working now from home full-time and you’ve established your team’s routine, congratulations – you’re already in better shape than most. It’s a huge accomplishment and you should be proud of that fact, but there’s still more to do. In many ways you’re more versatile, but at the same time there are security vulnerabilities you’ll need to be prepared to handle. You need to protect your employees and your client’s data, and that may call for more adjustments as you navigate COVID-19.

Here are 8 things you can do to help protect your employees and clients:

  1. Supply all the computers. Whilepersonal computers and other personal devices are convenient, they may not have best protection against cyber threats. By providing your employees with company-bought equipment, you can ensure everyone has the best anti-malware and other protection tools from the get-go.
  • Update your software often. As soon as your security software providers provide an update, waste no time and make sure that patch is installed globally. Verify with each employee that they receive the update and installed it. If possible, install the updates remotely and send an email to every employee reminding them that these updates are for them and your clients’ data protection.
  • Use a company phone number. Everyone has a cellphone. And like any computer, they can be hacked as well. You can mitigate that risk by using cellphones that you supply that have security software preinstalled. If your employees will be using personal cellphones, there are reputable third-party apps that will provide a secondary phone number so they don’t have to use on their own personal phone number for business. Likewise, you can set your phone lines up on a VoIP and within that system there are apps to download on your phones to use specifically for your business—and use WIFI and not cellular data services.
  • Test your security. You may have the best security assets money can buy and excellently laid out procedures, but complacency is not the same thing as confidence – the former can get you into trouble. Test, test, test. It’s truly the only way you’ll gain a real understanding of the capabilities of your tools and how your employees handle a realistic situation. This may sound harsh but really, it’s tough love – have a surprise test. It can be an effective eye-opener to possible vulnerabilities and a sober solution that prevents resting on your laurels.
  • Invest in a VPN. Virtual private networks (VPNs) encrypt your Internet data and conceal your online identity. They’ll give your employees protection, especially important if some of them need access to your internal network. This added layer of software protection will help instill more confidence in your staff who may have concerns about accessing sensitive company data from home.
  • Educate your team. A tool is only as good as its wielder. Make security tips and reminders part of your agenda at your daily or weekly meetings. Your employees are regular people and they all have A LOT on their minds right now. Just knowing that security is a regular agenda item will also serve as a helpful minder for employees to be mindful.
  • Communicate to your clients. Your customers and prospects are surely concerned about security. Let’s keep it real – they too are looking at themselves to see where they stand on security – so they’re definitely looking to you for action and guidance. Prepare a statement that details the steps you’ve been taking as it will serve two-fold: one: you’re giving them peace-of-mind knowing you’re protecting their data, and two: thought leadership via real solutions they can implement for their own security issues.
  • Don’t give up. Growing up in Texas, I was taught that no matter what—nevergive up. That principle can be applied in a variety of ways… but the end result is you ALWAYS intend to win. Teach your team to make it go right. They will be empowered to go the extra mile for all aspects of their lives… even your business.

I was recently quoted in RealLeaders magazine with tips to handle a remote workforce in a crisis—see if any of this helps you:

“As CEO of an international agency we piloted and pioneered a remote workforce 5 years ago, so many of the issues our clients and colleagues are presently experiencing, we are not. In times of crisis, a leader has to keep his/her team “in the present,” and that can be very hard to do without major structure and a strict production demand. I have developed a Crisis Org Board, outlining what “hat” each person will wear. Once everyone knows their “crisis role” we then determine what the major production will be for the business and how to go about it.  We don’t use the crisis to sit back and wait to be told what to do, we use it to proactively take action and keep our people industrious and helping others. We help the media tell real-time stories with data from our clients, so our purpose is to help get news out to millions of people. Giving our team a strong purpose keeps them in the moment.”

Crisis Is Our Wheelhouse. Working remotely is business as usual for us. We haven’t hit pause on anything. In fact, we’re going 24/7 right now, still getting out the news that will help people and our clients through this difficult time. We’ve got this. Do you?

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