The year 2020 has provided quite a few lessons on the topic of information security, and most of them have been related to the coronavirus pandemic. As the United States prepared to hold Thanksgiving Day celebrations in isolation, a second wave of infections swept through Europe and many countries across the Americas; for this reason, many companies urged their employees to continue working from home until hospitalizations could be brought under control, or until the first vaccination programs were rolled out.
What many job market analysts are predicting is that working from home (WFH) is a practice that will persist around the world in 2021 even if we experience success in terms of herd immunity through vaccination. Cybercrime groups and malicious hackers are certainly happy with this development because it will allow them to continue plying their wicked trade unless information security is tightened. According to a Reuters news report from April 2020, the number of cybercrime incidents in the U.S. doubled just a few weeks after companies adopted WFH policies in light of the first wave of SARS-CoV-2 cases.
Many information security analysts feel that the time to strengthen WFH data integrity and connectivity is now. A survey conducted by 451 Research in October showed that 67% of American employers intend to prolong their WFH for reasons that may not necessarily be related to the pandemic. To be fair to some of these companies, many employees are enjoying the WFH trend because of its perceived convenience, and this translates into higher morale and productivity.
There is no question that IT security must be reviewed as we head into 2021, which will likely be the second year of the pandemic. One interesting piece of advice that security experts are giving to executive boards consists of getting remote workers directly involved in the IT security process, and one way of doing so is to remind them that their personal data could be at risk.
An unfortunate reality of the American workplace is that many companies are stuck in the Theory X of personnel management, which incorrectly implies that workers will do the absolute minimum in expectation of getting a paycheck. On the opposite end of the personnel management spectrum we find Theory Y, which correctly assumes workers can positively contribute to organizations if they are given the chance and incentives to do so.
Theory Y is a trend that can be conducive to information security during the new WFH era. If you read this primer on protecting your online data, you will notice that it is pretty sophisticated, but it subtly addresses personal data security. The idea behind teaching employees to safeguard their own digital devices, networks, and personal data is that they will do the same with regard to their work assignments; to this effect, there should be some material rewards and recognition for those who contribute to information security.
In the end, the enterprise data security trend we would love to see in 2021 is seeing WFH employees become thoroughly aware and knowledgeable about security risks. Teaching workers about how they can help their teammates and employers to stay safe online should become a new standard of information security.