By Zach Tarvin, Creative Technologist
The ideal situation: We’ll all work from home, finding comfort, community and productivity in the team video calls, the group chats, and the shared documents. The reality: Moving an entire organization to remote work overnight is tough. COVID-19 has caused us to change the way we work in ways that may never resemble the old idea of “normal” again. But just as we’re all staying safe at home, we need to take steps to ensure we’re being safe at work.
Many of us might not be working as secure as we should be—and we might not even know. You may have figured out that your home Internet can’t sustain the family’s “Tiger King” binge, your video conference call and the download of a large presentation at the same time. But while you’re getting to know the capabilities of your connection speed, it’s a good idea to get to know the capabilities of your security. Here’s a few tips to ensure your documents, conversations and ideas are safe:
Tip 1: For sensitive work, stick to the approved tool
Sensitive, privileged and confidential information doesn’t like an audience. While there’s a lot of great camaraderie that comes from a team Zoom call, choose your IT team’s approved tools when working on projects and talking with external partners. They might not always have the interface you like, but they’ve been battle tested by your team for your team and should be best designed to weather outages, breaches, and other worst-case scenarios.
Tip 2: Be like Beyoncé: If it’s private, you shoulda put a PIN on it
OK, maybe “Single Ladies” wasn’t about passwords and pin codes. But the gist applies. Passwords and pin codes are annoying, but effective. Take that extra step to make sure your private conversation stays private. If it’s a small number of people talking, it probably doesn’t need to be a video conference and can just take place over the phone. It may be less convenient, but it’s safer.
Tip 3: Separate “work” and “personal” while at home
Separating work and home life is hard right now, but doing so digitally isn’t just easier, it’s essential. While it can be tempting to use a tool or service you’re comfortable using in your personal life (like Google Docs) for work, you’re putting your professional work at risk.
While many of these services are great for personal and academic use, when a service is free, that probably means your data is part of the business exchange. Many times, the sharing of documents on these services occurs over public links, meaning all it takes is one misplaced URL, one breach of a personal account, and your whole organization is on the hook for some severe breach of privacy. Don’t let things like passwords and business plans get exposed. Use the tools your IT team has approved.
While the isolation we’re living with is a challenge, it’s thankfully never been easier to securely and digitally collaborate—while you’re trying to strategize whether you’ll be doing your best work at the kitchen table or on the couch.
* If you have questions or are seeking counsel, please reach out to Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org.