While many bigger organizations have secured internal networks, that doesn’t mean the employees will follow all the rules and regulations. That’s especially true in the case of internal communication, where security and privacy are often sacrificed for the sake of speed and convenience.
Business-related info is often sent over unapproved channels, such as social media, messaging services, or personal email. While companies at least do something about secure internal communications, many employees feel too lax about keeping their personal information safe. This leads to irresponsible actions when dealing with the company’s data.
Below, you will find some tips on securing internal communication. Some apply to SMBs or enterprise-level companies, but most are essential for every business.
Nowadays, finding a company without people working remotely is becoming harder. This can be an issue if two co-workers are also friends on Facebook and decide to tackle some questions on Messenger. Therefore, your company must have one way of communicating that’s both safe and convenient.
Products oriented toward consumers are never a good option. You may have heard about WhatsApp and Facebook leaks and the damage they can do. Such services will always be a target for hackers because one successful penetration guarantees a big prize.
Using separate accounts for personal and business use is also a bad idea because switching between the two is far from convenient. Additionally, neither WhatsApp nor any other messaging service was built with business clients in mind, and you will get to find out the painful way.
Instead, consider B2B-optimized communication apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Not only are they more private, but these services can also be easily integrated with other tools, such as calendars or email. Additionally, they allow the creation of separate chat rooms for departments, sending scheduled messages, and so on.
While it would be great to copy-paste passwords on your B2B messaging service as part of internal communication, this data is extremely sensitive. Therefore, it requires special protection provided by password management apps. They offer a safe and convenient way to store and share login information.
After all, what other viable options do companies have? Having a password list on Google Docs, or worse, your computer, spells nothing but trouble. That’s not to mention that you should have a backup option, which, if not updated regularly, won’t do much.
Password managers have plenty of other useful features. You can store secret notes, credit cards, or personal info for auto-filling online forms. And most importantly, you won’t need to remember all passwords or use one for all accounts – one password to open the manager app will be enough.
There used to be times when only enterprise-level businesses used a Virtual Private Network or VPN. The primary purpose of this tool is to create a safe tunnel between the remote worker and the data in the main office. This is achieved by using traffic encryption, which secures internal communication, making it unreadable to third parties.
So if your employee works from home and can’t access office resources, he might ask the coworkers to send it to them. Not only is this inconvenient, but it also poses an increased risk. With a VPN, a remote employee can work as if she is sitting at her desk.
Furthermore, a reliable VPN gives privacy by hiding the real IP address, which can also be used to determine location. This way, it’s also much harder for cybercriminals to target employees. However, not all services can be trusted, so look for a reputable VPN with a strong no-logs policy. Consider exploring options like NordVPN with a free trial to assess its features and performance before committing to a subscription.
While most of us have Gmail for personal use, it might not be the best option for business. As a big company, it’s always on the hackers’ radars while doing its best to get as much information from its users as possible. A viable alternative for both small and large companies is secure email providers.
Even though most of the internal communication happens by using some form of B2B messenger, it’s still essential to have an email address that will be used for account setup and various notifications. And since email is the top target for phishing attacks, a safety-oriented option seems like a good idea.
Secure emails provide end-to-end encryption, meaning that only the sender and the receiver can read the message. They also support two-factor authentication (2FA), meaning if someone learns about your password, access without confirmation from your smartphone will remain impossible.
From a privacy perspective, secure emails also remove metadata headers from emails. Those often include device and browser information, which can help an attacker identify the sender. Most importantly, secure emails don’t check your inbox and don’t serve personalized ads.
While all the above options were related to tools and apps, in the end, it’s the people who need to use them properly. That’s why letting the employees know about the significance of safe communication is even more critical.
You should apply strict policies against discussing work-related information using third-party tools. Sharing passwords via internal messenger should also be prohibited. Naturally, this means introducing a password manager.
The staff should also always use a VPN, especially when working remotely. Next, they shouldn’t send business-related files to their personal emails. Finally, they should also address possible security risks to their managers.
Changing the mindset of the people is an arduous task, so you should lead by example when endorsing a secure internal communication culture. When people see that the same rules apply to everyone, it will be much easier to internalize them.
Having secure internal communication depends on more than just the software. While VPNs, password managers, and secure emails are all great and well-recommended tools, it is their employees that the companies should think of first.
Knowing how to communicate securely is a skill that most of us need to develop. And that’s where the emphasis should be in every office. After all, no tool will save your business if the employees continue sharing passwords on WhatsApp.