As the U.S. economy and educational system adapt to work and life at home, it is important to remember that cybersecurity (and related privacy) risks remain and are evolving. Remembering to think through measures that are in place to protect personal information, proprietary information, confidential information, and information needed for ongoing operations can help businesses avoid and mitigate these risks. Appropriate protective measures are specific to changing circumstances, but fortunately, guidance and helpful resources have quickly emerged. We have set forth below some important considerations in assessing administrative, technical, and contractual cybersecurity safeguards in virtual business and educational settings.
New tools bring new vulnerabilities
Many entities whose employees are now working from home for the first time are implementing new, sometimes expensive, tools to help their employees collaborate and maintain business operations. These new tools include videoconferencing, file-sharing, and other communication platforms. Even if the employer does not provide the tools, employees may find and use their own.
There are good reasons for implementing these tools at the business level, including consistent-use practices in the entity’s system, a process for regular software patches and updates, and discounted pricing. When selecting and implementing these tools, or modifying the manner and extent by which these tools will be used, it can be easy to overlook or minimize better practices for use of third-party information technology services: reasonable and appropriate diligence, contractual protections, and ongoing oversight and validation.
In addition, it is important to remember that the cybersecurity posture of many (if not most) online tools can vary widely depending on how the tool is configured, maintained, and used. This means considering whether the right virtual-IT skill set has been engaged and applied, and helping ensure that users have the information they need to make better privacy and data security decisions. Addressing these issues effectively can be especially challenging as work and learning environments change radically.