As a managed service provider (MSP), data is one of the many things we are responsible for. However, the shift to remote working, followed by partial staff returns to the office, with the possibility of workforces heading back home again shortly as flu season ramps up, is leading to an explosion of data sprawl. Employees are accessing sensitive information on their work computers, home laptops, tablets, phones, and more.

For example, at Omega Computer Services, we had a client that was working from home on an approved device who couldn’t find a file they were looking for on the device and ending up locating in on a personal laptop. This is just one simple example of the amount of data sprawl that is being seen from the remote working shift, and this is only expected to continue to grow.

Yet, with all this data all over the place it becomes harder to manage, not to mention it puts your client’s data at a higher risk for theft or compromise. Let’s take a look at some best practices for managing data sprawl.

Multilayered security

A good security system always has more than one component to it. Think about your home security. You lock your doors with a top and bottom lock, keep your bottom floor windows closed and locked at night, install home security cameras, have a security system provider, and so forth. Having multiple layers in place to protect data security should be no different. And I’m not just referring to two-factor authentication.

One examples is limiting access to those who only need the data by leveraging encryption systems, two-factor authentication, security monitoring services, and so forth. It is important to remember that limiting access to data goes further than your client’s employees. It includes vendors that work with that specific data, as well. Take a CRM for instance. What happens to all of that data when you switch platforms? Or if the platform goes down? Is their data just in the cloud? Or are your clients having to pay to get their data back when they want to switch platforms?

Fortunately, backing up your data will eliminate the need to pay for it. Whichever the case, it’s important to know where data is stored, who has access to it, and who owns it.

Data security policies

As always, policies play a very important role in security, management and efficiency. So, having data security policies to limit and maintain data sprawl is no different. These policies will determine how users handle, store and use data.

First of all, are users accessing sensitive information on an approved device? Next, are they sharing and sending files with authorized users only? Further, are they trained on the proper policies and procedures? These are some questions to ask to help manage not only the sprawl of data, but how secure the data is staying as well.

Secure all endpoints

As mentioned earlier, with many of our clients accessing data from multiple devices, it’s going to be very important to ensure all endpoints are secure with data is leaving the network from many different devices. This is especially true as mobile and remote devices are a favorite target for adversaries.

How can you ensure all endpoints are secure? One way it so utilize an endpoint security protection platform rather than a traditional antivirus solution that only does a fraction of the job by safeguarding single endpoints. An endpoint security platform enables you can quickly detect, inspect, block, and limit attacks when they happen.

Since we already manage our client’s data, many of the items outlined above are already in place. With more people accessing information on multiple devices, it is more important than ever to focus on controlling the spread of data. Not only do we want our client’s data to stay safe, but for the sake of our service techs, we want to make their jobs easier as well. Having a limited number of places to look for data can ensure quicker closed tickets and higher satisfaction rates on tickets as well.

Photo: Billion Photos / Shutterstock

Monica Gordon

Posted by Monica Gordon

Monica Gordon is the Marketing Specialist at Omega Computer Services (OCS), Michigan’s premier outsourced I.T. provider. OCS specializes in building custom I.T. solutions that align with your business goals, putting you at the heart of everything technology. You can read more from Monica on OCS’s Blog or check out the tech-y podcast she is a part of, The Geek Freaks Podcast.

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