Signing confidential documents has become a major obstacle since many people started working from home more often. These documents have usually been printed out and signed manually. How would it be possible to confirm confidential documents and contracts digitally? Is it secure? In this blog post, I would like to share my tips on secure electronic communication in remote work.
Tip 1: Develop a remote working strategy
Throughout the years, I have helped various companies to develop their information management practices, but based on my experience, not all organizations know how to incorporate remote work or what tools for remote work to use.
Many companies have basic tools for electronic communication and these tools enable remote work quite well. However, there are some processes that are always done in the office. For example, printing contracts and approvals, signing them, sharing confidential data, and filing.
Now that many employees are working remotely, it would be worth identifying what has changed regarding handling confidential information. The crucial question to ask is: do the changed practices or possibly a quickly deployed new tool support a secure and efficient manner of working? So possible information security risks and inefficiencies can be identified.
It is very understandable that mistakes happen when working remotely because many of us are concentrating on surviving during this weird crisis. However, I believe that this crisis is a great possibility for your organization to develop remote working and preparedness strategies.
Tip 2: Identify confidential information & manage information security risks
Huge amounts of data are being transferred electronically at the moment. As far as I understand, the amount of sensitive data has increased during the crisis, while organizations are having conversations about personnel, finance, and security, for instance. If you did not speak about these matters in a public café, the information would be potentially confidential. This kind of information should be identified at least.
Confidential information is not a risk itself, but the possibility of it ending in the wrong person’s hands is a risk. As an indicator of confidentiality, you can ask a simple question: on a scale of 1-10, how much of an inconvenience it would cause to your operations if the message ended up with the wrong customer or partner?
If your answer is high on the scale, you should consider secure communication tools which ensure that only the intended recipient receives the message and cannot accidentally forward the message. For example, unprotected email or chat does not in principle provide the necessary information security. Appropriate tools for secure communication exist though. Your organization should pay attention to data protection and understand where data is located.
Tip 3: Maintain and improve processes with the right electronic tools
As more processes need to be handled digitally, the importance of information security and appropriate electronic tools increases and will further increase. As a starting point, it would be recommendable to consider remote work and information handling as a whole process. Based on that, map which solutions support your company’s operations the best.
For example, concerning confidential documents, data can be processed and shared in a secure environment. Then the documents can be sent to a recipient via an encrypted email, and the recipient can sign the document electronically and securely via an electronic signature service. Finally, the documents need to be saved in a secure environment.
With appropriate and secure tools, your organization is not solely building continuity, but also, communicating reliability to your stakeholders. Therefore, secure processes can help to build trust during times of uncertainty, when people’s physical contact is limited. Of course, most of the trust is built by humane collaboration and there is a lot of demand for it, especially during these times. Let’s build security together.
Tips on securing and appropriating remote working by SSH's specialist in electronic communication and information security:
- Evaluate changed practices and develop a remote working strategy.
- Identify sensitive and confidential information and its location within your organization.
- Outline the processes of handling confidential information and manage risks throughout the process.
- Invest in appropriate and secure tools and build trust.
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