When employees work from home, whether with a laptop or smartphone, it’s important for them to remember they’re just as responsible for sensitive corporate data as if they were in the office. The theft of intellectual property (IP), trade secrets, customer or donor information, personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive data can still cost the company millions — and employees their jobs.
The simplest and safest thing is not taking sensitive corporate information home with you at all. But realistically, working from home involves work which can typically involve important company data. So, employees need to be careful what they do with it — especially when it comes to how they share files.
Many organizations do not support the use of public file-sharing applications like Dropbox, Box.net, YouSendIt, OwnCloud, Minbox, JungleDisk, etc. For many companies, this applies not only to work-from-home scenarios but also to working in the office. Of course, this is a corporate policy decision. But for more secure communications, alternatives such as VPNs or secure shared drives should be used if possible.
If employees use home systems for work, they need to be sure they’re aware of what their kids, spouses and guests are also doing on the system. For example, applications from storefronts and music or video downloads all have the potential to infect a system with malware. Friends and family may unknowingly or accidentally expose a system to malware — and the employee wouldn’t know until it’s too late. (To avoid unknowingly downloading malware, it’s a good idea to educate employees on recognizing a phishing email.)