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How to Implement a Data Privacy and Protection Strategy for Remote Teams

  • Edward Nick 

In today’s digital world, data privacy and protection are increasingly important. Add in the complexity of remote teams, and you have a whole new ball game.

It’s undeniable that remote work is favored by employees and now employers too, with 97% of workers. So it’s essential to implement a data privacy and protection strategy that works for global teams.

When working in a remote environment you need to take steps to make sure that your team’s data is secure. The threats you face differ from those on-site teams and can be more difficult to anticipate and mitigate.

A data privacy policy helps protect your company from legal issues and accidental breaches, which could ruin your reputation. And once your reputation is tainted, it’s extremely challenging to rebuild.

We’ve outlined five simple steps for introducing a data privacyvstrategy to enhance your remote team’s security and safeguard your reputation.

Let’s dive in.

1. Establish a data culture

Data privacy is everyone’s responsibility and must be a company-wide effort. 

In other words, one employee isn’t responsible for handling your company’s data protection and privacy compliance. You need to have a culture of accountability from top to bottom.

Where every employee understands what’s required of them when protecting the information of customers,and vendors, or even test data.

And as a remote team, you must be extra careful about data privacy and protection.

Due to the nature of remote jobs, you’re not all physically located in the same place. That’s great for productivity and work-life balance.

but you need to put extra effort into training and teaching your employees how to handle data properly.

If you don’t establish a culture that holds data privacy to the standards at your company,

there’s a chance that employees will make mistakes with sensitive information — or worse, they’ll unknowingly share it with unauthorized people.

If you want to avoid these kinds of scenarios, then you need to establish a culture of data privacy

One of the best ways to do this is by educating everyone on the team.

How to handle this information with internal team members and with others outside the company.

How to Implement a Data Privacy and Protection Strategy for Remote Teams

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2. Understand the key risks

If you understand the main risks that you are likely to face,

it’s easier to incorporate them into your data privacy and protection strategy.

Here are the top three risks that come with working in a remote team:

  1. Unmonitored data sharing: When employees are in different locations (and using personal devices), it’s increasingly difficult to track when and if sensitive data is shared internally or externally.
  2. Undefined roles and responsibilities: Similarly, it can be hard to clearly define who has access to what data and who has the responsibility for protecting that data.These blurred lines can cause confusion and mistakes. Your team members might not even realize they’re doing anything wrong or how much damage they can cause.
  3. Poor policies and practices: Companies that work remotely often don’t invest in data protection, which can lead to data theft or loss in ransomware attacks.
How to Implement a Data Privacy and Protection Strategy for Remote Teams

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3. Create a data protection policy

Now that you’ve identified your largest threats to data privacy as a remote team, the next step is to develop a comprehensive data protection policy.

A data protection policy (DPP) is a set of rules that govern how your company handles personal information.

It’s a document that spells out how you plan to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the data you collect about your customers, employees, and anyone else who interacts with your business.

The policy should explain how long your company keeps data, why they keep it, who has access to the information, and what happens if someone leaves the company. Do they have to return company equipment? Are there non-disclosure agreements involved?

How to Implement a Data Privacy and Protection Strategy for Remote Teams

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A data protection policy protects your company and customers by listing prohibited actions with company data and what to do if there is a violation. For example, the DPP document should explain the consequences of violating security policies.

If an employee knows they’re breaking the policy, repercussions could include termination.

Remember that data protection is a never-ending process. Review and update the policy yearly to make sure you have covered any gaps that could occur as the company grows.

4. Use the proper technology

The best way to protect data on remote teams is to provide your team with the necessary technology and equipment they need to maintain data privacy and enhance data protection.

ActiveCampaign is an excellent example of a company focused on email marketing and automation tools that has a clear data protection strategy for their remote workers.

They provide every remote worker with a Mac computer and other essential tools for proper internet and security access. 

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Providing a separate work computer is the easiest way to help track employee communication and govern access to sensitive data.

You can also set up your employees’ computers with login credentials to access your remote servers located and protected in a colocation data center. This access mimics the same security measures that occur in a traditional office setting.

When it comes to data privacy, encryption is your best friend. Encryption is a process that lets you protect your data from prying eyes. There are two main types of encryption: symmetric encryption and asymmetric encryption.

  • Symmetric encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt information. This means that if you have a secret message that requires decryption, both parties need to know the key for it to work.
  • Asymmetric encryption uses different keys for encrypting and decrypting information. If a message is encrypted with one key, decryption is only possible with the other key.
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Data protection is considered the last line of defense

Consider investing in data replication software to enable efficient data protection and recovery in the case of a disaster.

Businesses can find them at a loss when hit with critical data source stoppages rendering their data unavailable

Replicating your data is a foolproof way to guarantee that you also have a backup whenever you need it.

5. Train your team on data policies and procedures

Train remote employees on data privacy and security protocols, so they know what to do to protect data and report incidents. 84% of security breaches are identity-related,

so it’s essential to provide the tools and training to your remote team to protect their identity online and avoid data breaches.

With remote teams, you sometimes have to get creative with presenting policies and instructions.

It’s often a good idea to create a video presentation detailing the policy and walk through any procedures that your remote team may need to be aware of.

You can use Quicktools by Picsart to create a quick and easy instructional video that your remote team can easily digest.

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After your training and briefing, establish an environment where people feel comfortable reporting breaches right away. You can do this by offering rewards for reporting incidents

creating an anonymous tip line, or implementing a formal program that provides incentives for reporting security breaches.

Make sure employees understand what makes up a breach so they know when to report it. If your organization doesn’t already have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place for responding to these incidents.

it’s crucial to create some.

When you put a comprehensive well-thought-out plan in place

you can help protect your customers’ sensitive information

keep it out of the hands of bad actors, and safeguard the integrity of your remote team’s work.

Wrapping up

There’s much to consider when designing a data protection strategy for remote teams.

The key is to remember that the most important thing is to take the time.

To protect user data, start by identifying risks and making a privacy policy to address them. Then, put technical and organizational controls in place. Lastly, have a plan to handle data incidents and conduct regular training with your employees.

Once your team understands online security risks and how it pertains to their jobs, you can implement tools and policies to keep your data safe. 

By taking a few key steps, remote teams can protect your company from potential liability and stay on the right side of GDPR compliance.

The EU’s new regulation has been met with much controversy, but it could be an opportunity for your remote organizations to address data privacy concerns head-on and lead the charge in this area. The last thing you want is a lawsuit on your hands. It’s better to be proactive than reactive.