How to Keep Crucial Data Well Protected When Utilizing Freelancers
Working with freelancers has many benefits, among them: you eliminate many overhead costs, you get to hire specific experts, and they are usually available to hire immediately. It is no wonder that the freelancing workforce has been growing at a very fast rate since 2014.
While employing remote workers has its advantages, their freedom to work just about anywhere and use any type device and software can pose challenges to data security. Without enough control and management, these devices can be exposed to malware that can corrupt the company’s data center, and laptops can get stolen or lost which can lead to data leaks. While a data recovery service may be able to restore vital company data after an attack or disaster, a data breach is another story. Once data is compromised, it may be rendered useless and worse damage company reputation.
There are steps, however, that a business can take to ensure that their crucial data is well protected while benefiting from the expertise of freelance workers.
Categorize the project according to the level of data risk
A well-organized data classification should be at the forefront of your data loss prevention strategy. A data risk classification scheme helps identify the amount of regulatory requirement and access control.
Remote workers involved in HR payroll administrative work, for example, will handle sensitive and restricted data which are high-risk information such as social security numbers and personal health information (PHI). When these data are mishandled, it may put the company at legal and financial risks.
On the other hand, workers involved in web analytics may need access to confidential data, such as contracts with vendors or manufacturing methods. These type of data may affect operations if disclosed to the public.
Some data, however, may be freely disclosed or distributed to the public since they bear no risk to the company such as data needed by graphic designers to create marketing materials.
Set limits to access privileges
Depending on the level of associated risk, access privileges should also be controlled. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and/or complete background check may be needed before awarding a project to a freelancer that will require granting access to sensitive data.
Limiting access will ensure that your workers gain entry only to information that are relevant to their task. Your organization may also set up a dedicated folder where your team can upload their files.
Also, implement an effective password policy that should be enforced and policed. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) advises the use of multi-factor authentication and use of phrase with multiple words that which you can picture in your head; protect your most important accounts, such as the banking and primary email, with a unique passphrase; and the use of a password manager to manage passwords to multiple accounts.
Moreover, all access granted to a freelancer should be immediately disabled once the project ends. When you set appropriate measures and protocols, you not only secure your company's crucial data, but your remote worker becomes more effective with their job as you make it less complicated for them to access data relevant to their tasks.
Utilize the power of the cloud
Cloud is a convenient and cost-effective way of providing your remote workers access to data anytime and anywhere. Cloud service providers take data security and privacy very seriously. Cloud service providers implement authentication, encryption, and other measures to ensure data confidentiality and integrity, as well as data recoverability.
In choosing the right cloud storage providers, make sure that their services include continuous monitoring of all interactions with the data, automatic encryption of sensitive data, and effective alert and reporting system.
Consider using VPN
As much as possible, the use of public WiFi should not be encouraged, as it can expose your data to hackers. However, there may be situations such as a power outage, that may force your remote worker to use a nearby public WiFi. Your organization may invest in a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure the connection is always encrypted while using a public WiFI, working in a cafe, or even at home.
The threat of data loss and data breach is ever present, especially when working with freelancers. It should not prevent companies, however, from taking advantage of the benefits that these remote workers bring to a business, as long as enough data safety measures and protocols are put in place.