Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft when Working Remotely

Apr 11, 2014

Executrade Protect

Eighty-seven percent of small business employees feel some risk about having their identity stolen when using work networks, according to a 2013 GFI Software survey. This finding correlates with a high incidence of working remotely on mobile devices and using work networks for personal purposes. Forty-three percent of respondents reported connecting remotely to work computers using a mobile device, and nearly all owners of employer-issued mobile devices reported using them for reasons unrelated to work, with 33 percent admitting to using social networks for personal reasons while on the job. These numbers put both employees and employers at risk of identity and data theft, making a good workplace security policy imperative for personal and business protection.

Guard against Data Loss

Seven percent of respondents to GFI’s survey reported losing a mobile device containing company data. When your device also contains personal data, it puts your own identity at risk if lost. Furthermore, a hack of your company’s network can compromise any personal data you have stored on the same device, and vice versa. Symantec Enterprise Mobility senior manager Brian Duckering says the best approach to managing such risks is to focus on protecting the data rather than the device itself. One way to do this is illustrated by BlackBerry’s Balance technology, which creates a virtual wall between business and private apps and data, so personal apps cannot access work information and employer data can’t be copied into personal applications or email. Subscribing to an identity theft protection service from a company like LifeLock can add another layer of data protection. Learn more about their services and offerings on their YouTube channel.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Despite years of widespread advice for employees and consumers to use stronger passwords, software provider SplashData found that in 2013 the most popular passwords were still obvious, easily-hacked permutations such as “123456” and “password.” Meanwhile, hacking software has gotten sophisticated enough to potentially crack passwords as long as 55 or even 64 characters in length, according to ZDNet. Security experts insist that passwords alone are no longer an adequate protective measure, and they recommend adopting two-factor authentication, a method which requires an independent identity verification in addition to a password, much as an ATM machine requires both a physical card and a PIN number. Strong password selection policies also still apply, with experts recommending you use at least 15 digits mixing capital and small letters, numbers and punctuation marks.

Beware Human Error

A 2013 Symantec study found that criminal attacks and human error cause more security breaches than technical problems. A common scenario occurs when an employee transfers employer data off the company network and doesn’t delete it. The best way to avoid many data breaches is to follow basic security policies such as not sharing passwords, opening suspicious emails or clicking unknown attachments.