Staying Safe While Collaborating Online

Collaboration is key. It doesn’t matter what industry you are working in – it doesn’t matter what project you are working on – you need to collaborate to accomplish tasks quickly and well. Fortunately, there is an overwhelming number of collaboration tools available online, so you can connect to clients and team members easily and efficiently. Unfortunately, not all these collaboration solutions are secure.

Security should be a top priority for freelancers and business owners, again regardless of industry, project, size and scope. If you are concerned about how you and your business can stay safe while utilizing the best web collaboration tools, read on.

Utilize Reliable Collaboration Tools

There are hundreds of collaboration tools online, from simple messenger programs to comprehensive suites that facilitate project development. Some collaboration tools are free, some can be purchased and some require a monthly subscription. Most important of all, the web offers a few trustworthy, safe collaboration tools – and a very many unreliable, potentially dangerous ones.

Before you download any software online, you should do some research to verify that it not only provides the features you need but also that it is not compromised by malware. Reviews on different services should provide enough information about which ones aren’t quite trustworthy and which will satisfy your collaboration needs.

Establish Security Policies

It doesn’t matter whether you are a lone freelancer or a medium-sized business owner; you need to have security policies in place to keep your devices and data safe. Not only will this help provide uniform security across your organization, regardless of project or team, but it will attract more clients, who prefer to work with organizations that are security-forward.

Your security policy will explain exactly how you plan to maintain the security of your assets, to include devices and data. To do this effectively, you should review your assets, speak with your team and develop a personalized policy that permits productivity while keeping information and machines safe. No member of your organization should be exempt from these policies, and noncompliance with the policies should result in swift and strict punishment. Because any minor mistake can cause a calamitous data breach, you must be willing to enforce your policy if it is going to have any positive effect.

Employ Strong Security Software

A significant portion of your security policy should address the types of security software your organization will have in place. This software should be present on every device connected to the network and any device that manages business-related data – which is to say any device connected through collaboration tools. Some of the most important security tools include:

  • Identity management. Identity-level security is foundational for protecting access to sensitive information. An identity management tool controls shared credentials and controls admin privileges.
  • Intrusion prevention. Like advanced antivirus, intrusion prevention systems look for threats while monitoring networks and devices in real time.
  • Security analytics. Big Data is especially useful in understanding the effectiveness of an existing security plan. Analytics tools provide insight into organization’s security strategy and responses and offer improvements.

Promote Safe Online Behaviors

Hygiene is swiftly becoming an InfoSec buzzword. The term cyber- or security hygiene refers to a user’s habits of maintaining the health and security of devices and data. Users are the number-one cause of insecurity because they are more likely to be lazy or deceived than machines. Some examples of positive behaviors include:

  • Developing strong, unique passwords for each account
  • Backing up data frequently to an offline external hard drive or a secure cloud service
  • Updating all software, including collaboration tools, as soon as patches are available
  • Maintaining an inventory of all equipment and programs

You might consider enrolling in a course that teaches best security practices to ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest habits for keeping your business and clients safe.

Know the Risks

Finally, whenever you collaborate online, you should be aware of the risks. The media throws around unfamiliar and intimidating terms to describe data breaches, but by understanding exactly how other businesses succumbed to attack, you might be better equipped to keep your organization safe. Either by enrolling in a cybersecurity course or staying informed through InfoSec industry news, you should be aware of what threats plague online collaborators and how you can best avoid those risks yourself.