How can secure hardware ensure data integrity in the era of hybrid working?

John Michael, CEO, iStorage explains how corporate storage must change to meet the needs of a new working culture, and how upgrading hardware can simplify employee administration.

The integrity of business data has never been more critical. Regulatory demands are growing, the amount of data we store and analyse is increasing, and the impact that lost, stolen or even improperly stored data could have on a business has never been more severe. HR departments know this. They have already faced the challenge of meeting GDPR requirements and have experienced how intimidating and complex such a task can be.

The responsibility for preventing data breaches is not simply an IT issue. It is a burden shared by the entire organisation – and when onboarding, training and offboarding employees who may manage sensitive data, it is up to HR to ensure the severity of such breaches is impressed upon those that could potentially cause them. Every possibility must be considered, and every preventative measure taken, to ensure data breaches do not happen.

The new data normal

Working practices have changed, and the potential for a breach is now greater than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic forced almost half of working adults to perform their jobs at home. Even with restrictions now lifted, 84% of those who worked remotely intend to continue doing so for a proportion of their working week[1]. Potential new employees may be enticed by the option of hybrid or home working, thus even probationary staff regularly access sensitive company data outside of the office. Hybrid working has changed the culture, and with it the rules. Data must go with a hybrid worker wherever they may be.

Careless and callous behaviour happens. A worker might decide to sit in a coffee shop to work, potentially using insecure Wi-Fi or leaving their laptop unattended around members of the public. Hybrid workers must commute with that data, potentially misplacing it on public transport and allowing it to fall into the wrong hands. An employee tempted to seek employment elsewhere may take sensitive company data with them.

From a data management perspective, any one of these situations presents a significant risk. And the common risks which existed prior to the pandemic – executives working on the train, reps making site visits, corporate espionage et al – have not gone away. For as much training as you can offer the workforce in safe data handling, mistakes can and do happen – but the right technology can help ensure that a mistake does not turn into a disaster.

The power of remote centralised data management

Equipping employees with encrypted storage is step one. Only those with the correct credentials can access data on an encrypted drive. Without the appropriate key, encrypted data is completely unreadable and functionally useless. Depending on the hardware, the drive itself may even be completely inaccessible without the credentials to unlock it. Data stored on such a drive is inherently secure.

Managing encryption does not necessarily mean issuing a simple password. The unlock method could be biometric, utilising your employees’ phone sensors or fingerprint reader to confirm their identity. It could, if you choose, use a passcode on a dedicated device. Crucially, neither the encryption nor unlock method need be left to an employee to manage. IT departments – and even HR departments – can issue and remotely administer such drives using a simple interface at a central location.

Central administration offers a surprising amount of power. Perhaps you’ve made an agreement with an employee about where, when and how they work. The right remote management solution can offer the tools to help make this happen. Geofencing, for example, prevents an employee unlocking such a drive if they are outside of a certain geographical radius – as large as a continent, country, or city, or as small as, say, their home and garden. Time limits can lock-down storage outside of working hours. An administrator could temporarily lock a drive, or offer a one-time relaxation of restrictions if, for example, an in-office employee has brought their drive to work but not the phone required to unlock it.

Mastering loss prevention

If an employee loses a drive, encryption is not the only line of defence. A remotely managed drive can be marked to be remotely wiped the next time it is inserted into a computer, and a new drive issued quickly using the credentials already present on a central system. Secure drives can also erase themselves should someone attempt to force entry or use an incorrect password too many times – meaning even a drive not yet reported as lost is inherently secure.

Remote management makes offboarding simple. An employee at the end of their contract can simply have their access removed. With one setting in a management tool – one that, in theory, should be simple enough for anyone to use – anything stored on a company drive can remain locked down forever, keeping it safe whether the employee returns the hardware or not.

It is not hard to see the potential that secure, remotely managed storage offers to streamline both data safety and employee administration in a new era of hybrid work. Backed by a consistent and well-considered security policy, the right hardware can vasty reduce the burden of administering the IT requirements of new and existing employees – and help to make data breaches a thing of the past in a work environment that’s moving towards the future.

Learn more about remote management to enhance data security:

John Michael, CEO, iStorage: After constantly reading about increasing data loss incidents, iStorage CEO and Founder, John Michael, saw this was clearly a growing problem with damaging consequences and identified a huge gap in the market to establish a business offering ultra-secure, easy-to-use and affordable data storage devices. Applying his 35 years’ worth of knowledge and experience within the data storage space enabled John to come up with ideas for products that would resolve such problems https://istorage-uk.com/product/datashur-bt-rmc/

About iStorage

iStorage is the trusted global leader of award-winning, PIN authenticated, hardware encrypted portable data storage & cloud encryption devices. iStorage offers the most innovative range of products to securely encrypt, store and protect data to military standards; safeguarding valuable and sensitive data to ensure compliance with stringent regulations and directives such as GDPR, HIPAA, SOX, NRC, GLB and DHS Initiatives. Today, iStorage products are used by government, military, multinational corporations as well as consumers in over 50 countries, with the mantra that encryption is an essential commodity required by all. Learn more at https://istorage-uk.com


[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/ishybridworkingheretostay/2022-05-23