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Keeping your data safe at home

One of the potential risk areas of working at home is the compromising of sensitive data. Kay Hill looks at the risks and the remedies, offering tips for keeping your workplace data safe at home.

There are two relevant kinds of data that someone working from home might access.

Personal Data

Firstly, the data that is covered by the GDPR regulations: “personal data” that can identify an individual, such as name, address, National Insurance number, passport number or IP address; and “sensitive personal data” which includes things like health, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religious or political beliefs. There are large fines for companies that don’t look after this information correctly.

Sensitive Business Information

The second type of data is sensitive business information – ie anything that could damage a company if it became public knowledge or was shared with competitors.

As far as GDPR is concerned, personal data must only be shared under set circumstances, so measures to ensure physical and virtual security need to be put in place. Information should not be seen by other members of the family (even children), so the computer screen should not be visible to others at home and must be shut down when not in use.  Phones and computers should have strong passwords to prevent unauthorised use, and papers should be tidied away at the end of the day into a locked cabinet. Avoid putting company data on to memory sticks or portable hard drives as these can easily be mislaid.

 

If employees are temporarily using a shared family computer, work files shouldn’t be saved on to the hard drive, but on the company’s remote server or password-protected cloud storage. If anything has to be stored on a home computer, the files themselves should be password protected.

 

A work-owned and supplied laptop provides better security, but if home equipment is used it should have up-to-date software, a firewall and virus protection in place. Where possible, continue using company email addresses accessed online rather than moving to personal addresses like Hotmail/Gmail that are more vulnerable to hackers.

 

Finally, remember that confidentiality during phone calls can also be an issue – any call involving personal or sensitive business information should be made away from other family members, and not discussed afterwards, however fascinating.

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