Working remotely? Keep your business’ data secure with ISO 27001

Information security breaches have become a major concern for businesses, and recent events have highlighted the seriousness of the issue.

During the initial three months of 2023, a staggering 41.6 million accounts were compromised globally due to data breaches. However, what makes this revelation even more alarming is that it’s on the lower side of what we’ve seen recently and represents a significant 49% decrease compared to the last quarter of 2022.

Chances are, if you haven’t been affected by a data breach yourself, you probably know someone who has had their sensitive information compromised – and it might have happened more than once.

These breaches have made headlines, with news outlets inundated with stories of companies falling victim to cyberattacks and losing sensitive data.

One such example is Optus, which had to spend $140 million to cover the costs of managing the aftermath of a massive data breach. The breach resulted in the theft of confidential personal client information, leading to severe reputational damage for the company.

The impact of data breaches has not gone unnoticed by the government either. In response to serious incidents like the ones experienced by Optus and Medibank, the Australian government has introduced legislation aimed at holding companies accountable for safeguarding customer information. Under these laws, businesses face the possibility of hefty fines, potentially upwards of $50 million, for serious or repeated breaches of customer data.

These developments show how crucial it is for businesses to focus on keeping information safe and invest in strong cybersecurity. Data breaches can happen anytime, and it’s vital for companies to take action before it’s too late.

By taking steps to protect sensitive data, businesses can earn and keep their customers’ trust, which is essential for their reputation and financial success.

Remote work, data security and ISO 27001 compliance

Remote work has evolved from being an option primarily utilised by freelancers and cost-cutting companies to a widespread preference among employees.

Now, around 50% of workers would choose to quit rather than return to the office full-time. While this shift towards remote work brings numerous benefits, such as improved work-life balance and saving on the expenses and time associated with daily commuting, it also raises concerns about data security.

When employees work from the office, they rely on the company’s systems and infrastructure, which are usually well-protected. However, remote workers operate outside of this controlled environment, potentially exposing vulnerabilities.

Remote workers may inadvertently engage in risky behaviours that put sensitive data at risk. These practices could include accessing sensitive data using unsafe Wi-Fi networks, using personal devices for work purposes, using weak passwords sharing files without encryption, and overlooking physical security precautions in public places. For example, they might be talking loudly on the phone while in public or viewing confidential information on their laptop screen in a busy café, making it susceptible to prying eyes.

These security gaps leave companies at risk of unauthorised access, data breaches, and potential modifications or destruction of critical information. This is where ISO 27001 compliance can be incredibly beneficial, providing a structured and thorough approach to keeping data secure when employees are working remotely.

ISO 27001 is a framework for information security management systems that helps businesses implement effective security controls and practices to safeguard sensitive data, even in remote work scenarios. Achieving ISO 27001 certification enables companies to improve their approach to information security and build robust systems for managing both present and future risks.

Whether operating in a local office or in dispersed remote settings, ISO 27001 compliance allows companies to effectively mitigate the specific risks associated with remote work and uphold the safety and confidentiality of their valuable data.

How does ISO 27001 certification protect cyber security for remote workers?

1. Improved risk management

Improved risk management is a key benefit of implementing ISO 27001, as the standard emphasises the need for proactive risk identification and determining opportunities for improvement.

By diligently examining potential vulnerabilities, the likelihood of overlooking risks is significantly reduced. This is particularly relevant in the context of remote work scenarios, where the early detection of issues is crucial in preventing their escalation into data breaches.

ISO 27001 encourages organisations to establish and maintain a vigilant approach, fostering a robust security framework that effectively safeguards sensitive data and strengthens overall risk mitigation efforts.

2. Clear guidelines

Clear guidelines are essential when it comes to the security measures for remote work. Any ambiguity in these guidelines must be eliminated to ensure a robust and foolproof system.

Equally important is providing comprehensive training to all employees, which empowers them with the knowledge and understanding of the exact measures they need to implement.

By combining clear guidelines and thorough training, companies can establish a secure remote work environment where employees are well-prepared to safeguard sensitive information and prevent potential security breaches.

3. Continual improvement

Continual improvement is a fundamental aspect of ISO 27001. The standard emphasises the importance of consistent and proactive monitoring of systems. This ongoing, proactive performance evaluation is crucial to prevent information security systems from becoming outdated and vulnerable to cybercrime.

By continuously adapting to meet current needs, companies can avoid the pitfall of “setting and forgetting” their security measures. ISO 27001 compliance ensures that data security remains a top priority across all levels of the company, even when employees are working remotely.

To achieve and maintain ISO 27001 certification while having remote employees, follow these tips to ensure robust data protection practices.

Get and stay ISO 27001 certified when you have remote employees

To get and stay ISO 27001 certified when you have remote employees, follow these key steps:

  • Regularly audit your information security system to identify and address potential vulnerabilities;
  • Make ISO 27001 a part of “the way things are done” at your company, regardless of whether employees work in the office or remotely;
  • Monitor how ISO 27001 aligns with all your overall security efforts to maintain a comprehensive security posture;
  • Thoroughly document all relevant actions and changes, ensuring documentation remains up to date;
  • Correct any identified issues promptly to prevent security breaches;
  • Keep senior management well-informed and actively engaged with the systems;
  • Continue to communicate regularly with employees about any concerns, opportunities, or improvements related to ISO 27001 management.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively ensure ISO 27001 compliance and maintain a robust security posture even in a remote work setting.

ISO 27001 compliance with cloud-based systems

Cloud-based systems are a paperless way to effectively manage various aspects of a company’s operations, processes, and compliance requirements. When systems are hosted on the cloud, it means that the software, data, and applications are all stored and accessed over the internet, rather than on-premises servers.

A cloud-based approach for establishing and maintaining information security management systems offers several advantages:

  1. Accessibility: Cloud-based systems allow authorised users to access the system from anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection. This flexibility is particularly valuable for organisations with remote employees or multiple locations, as it enables seamless collaboration and access to critical information.
  2. Scalability: Cloud-based systems can easily scale resources up or down based on the organisation’s needs, accommodating growth or fluctuations in usage for optimal cost efficiency.
  3. Cost-effectiveness: Cloud-based systems eliminate the need for investing in and maintaining on-premises infrastructure, reducing hardware and IT maintenance costs.
  4. Automation: Cloud-based systems make it possible to seamlessly automate workflows. Real-time notifications keep stakeholders informed, reducing delays and enhancing collaboration. Automation reduces manual tasks, saving time and costs, while faster processing times improve overall efficiency. Accurate reporting is facilitated with easy access to real-time analytics, supporting data-driven decision-making.
  5. Collaboration: Cloud-based systems promote collaboration among teams by providing real-time access to shared documents and data. This facilitates efficient communication and teamwork, streamlining processes and improving productivity.
  6. Data backup and recovery: Cloud services often include robust data backup and recovery mechanisms. This ensures that data is regularly backed up and can be easily restored in case of data loss or system failures, enhancing data safety and business continuity.
  7. Security: Reputable cloud providers implement advanced security measures to protect data and ensure compliance with industry standards. Features like data encryption, access controls, and regular security updates help safeguard sensitive information, giving organisations peace of mind regarding data security and privacy.

Integrated Compliance Solutions offers a paperless solution called Digital IMS+, a cloud-based integrated management system that streamlines operations, enables real-time monitoring, and helps businesses achieve and maintain compliance with standards like ISO 27001.

The system can be integrated with existing platforms, facilitates hybrid and remote work, and is fully customised to meet your specific requirements – we do not use templates. It automates workflows, improves communication, provides real-time reporting, and offers end-to-end consulting for a hassle-free ISO compliance experience, ensuring a strong foundation for business success.

Contact us about ISO 27001 certification

Get in touch with our team of consultants across Australia for assistance getting ISO 27001:2022 compliant, whether you haven’t been certified with this standard before or need to transition from the 2013 version. We help businesses in a wide range of industries develop lean, low-burden systems.

Alternatively, ask about our auditlegislative updates, or integrated management system development services.

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