Remember back in the day where the only place you really got to do focused work was on screen were in your home or at work itself. But the world has changed and we blame coffee shops. Starbucks made it their mission to create a “third place” that was neither home nor work, but gave you the comforts and the ability to do all the things you’d do in either of those. And now, that third place is everywhere. You are probably able to do work as effectively from home, at a coffee shop, in an airport, even in an airplane at 35,000 feet as you do while you’re in the office.
But just because we may not be at the office doesn’t mean your work security concerns change. All of the same PII, privacy, and data protection issues still exist; in fact, some of them become more important to think about when working remotely.
Imagine you’re in a local café working remotely. While you’re sitting in the shop, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, you’re steadily working on some reports that are due in a few days. While concentrating and working away, you even begin to lose notice of the rest of the coffee shop around you. That type of concentration isn’t a problem when you’re in your regular office place, however, as you’re surrounded by trusted fellow employees. Unfortunately for us, these “third places” are very good at getting us to let our guard down.
These are all examples of considerations that need to be addressed when working remotely.
- In your concentration, do you notice where you’re sitting in relation to everyone else?
- Can someone read your work data over your shoulder?
- Is someone reading over your shoulder?
- Did you leave your laptop at your table while you went to the washroom?
The solutions to the additional problems are easy:
- When working in a public place, sit at a seat where your back is against the wall of the establishment. It makes it impossible for someone to read over your shoulder from behind you. Simple as that.
- Never leave any of your devices alone. Laptops, phones, and tablets today are light and portable. This means that they’re easy to carry with you as you get up from your seat. This also makes them incredibly easy for thieves to steal. Whether you’re getting another cup of coffee, or going to the washroom, if you leave your seat then the devices should leave with you. This completely eliminates any chance someone can look through, or even steal, your devices while you are away.
- Keep all of your security controls up-to-date, and in place. This is something you sometimes don’t have to worry about when at the office. Most of these things are controlled by your security team. But just because you’re not at the office doesn’t mean security is any different than when you are. Rather, it’s more likely the case that there is a greater importance placed on maintaining and monitoring the security measures that exist on your work devices. This means making sure any security software is in place and up to date. Make sure you’re using secured browsing, and that your browsers and operating systems are up to date.
- Begin to really think about what type of work you’re doing when in public spaces. Even with security controls in place, it can be easy for an attacker to hijack your network connection while at a café.
All it takes is a few moments of self-awareness as we apply the responsibility of working remotely.
This is an excerpt from the Global Knowledge white paper, Human Vulnerabilities in Our Current Threat Landscape.