Nearly a quarter of people currently working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic do not consider data protection when sharing data, according to data discovery software platform Exonar.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many people have had to make the switch to remote working, with some companies such as Twitter announcing that employees will permanently have the option of working from home. This means that an increasing volume of sensitive sensitive data is being accessed outside of the usual office environment, raising concerns over data security.

Exonar surveyed 2,000 UK adults currently working from home as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak in May 2020 in partnership with OnePoll, and it revealed that 24% ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ consider data protection policies when sharing information with colleagues.

The worst offenders were those over 55, with 33% admitting that they do not consider data protection policies and regulations when sharing information, or only consider it rarely.

Furthermore, 14% said they had little to no understanding of their company’s data protection policies or other data regulations such as GDPR.

This is despite 72% of those surveyed saying that they need to access and share sensitive customer information as part of their job.

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The survey also revealed that only 53% of people using a home computer to work remotely believe it is very well protected by a firewall or virus detection, with 36% admitting to downloading unapproved software.

Poor data protection during remote working can be a serious problem for businesses

Danny Reeves, CEO of Exonar, comments that handling data incorrectly could create significant issues for organisations.

“The results of the research cause huge concern because today, every company is effectively a data company. Every enterprise holds sensitive information about its customers that could do massive reputational damage if handled incorrectly,” he said.

“Right now, employees are needing to access and work with customer data from home, which increases the risk of sensitive information not being protected properly, especially if people are not following data protection principles. It only takes one mistake by one employee to create a data breach situation.”

He believes that the handling of data is done securely should be a priority for businesses.

“The business landscape has changed beyond recognition, and data management is now absolutely essential for businesses operating a world of home working. Putting privacy at the heart of a data management strategy is no longer optional,” said Reeves.

“The problem is that in almost every case, businesses simply do not know what data they’ve got, where it is, and therefore how to secure it. There’s a dangerous lack of visibility across data estates.
Being able to discover data at speed, scale and depth empowers organisations to protect and power the people they serve. The onus is also on businesses to identify the individuals handling and sharing data, and to upskill them in data protection principles so as to retain the trust of all the stakeholders.”

Read more: DPOs face “melting pot” of pandemic subject access requests.