Coronavirus Blog Series:
Data Protection while working remotely
Published 9 April 2020
In response to governmental guidance, all UK individuals who can work from home have been instructed to do so. For companies whose systems were built around agile working and who have embraced remote technology, this was possible with little to no disruption. Those who were less fortunate have been forced to adapt quickly in order to protect the safety of their employees and continue to be able to serve their clients and customers.
While data protection may not be at the forefront of our minds at the moment, it is important that we work collaboratively and continue to take steps to minimise any unnecessary risks.
What is data?
The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into effect in May 2018. In response to the European regulation, the UK enacted the Data Protection Act 2018. GDPR applies to ‘Personal Data’. The Information Commissioner’s Office defines Personal Data as “any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier”. These personal identifiers can include information such as an individual’s name, identification number, location data or online information.
The Information Commissioner’s Office have said they recognise that amid the Coronavirus pandemic, finances or people may be diverted away from usual compliance or information governance work. While we will all need some time to adapt to our new ways of working, it is vital that we protect the data of our clients and those for whom we hold personal data.
Here are MKB Law’s tips for protecting data while working remotely:
1. Ensure that your computer and internet connection are secure
2. Review your operating system – many older operating systems such as Windows 2007 are no longer supported by Microsoft and as a result are not GDPR compliant.
3. Ensure all work and email traffic goes through the normal communication channels within the business’s servers.
5. Lock your screen while away from your desk, whether working from home or in the office.
6. Avoid leaving any paper documents lying around and dispose of all paper confidentially.
7. Avoid printing or bringing paper from the office to home – instead, scan the document and work off a softcopy.
8. If in doubt, seek the advice of your company’s Data Protection Officer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but following this guidance and adapting these simple habits will go a long way to ensuring that data is kept secure.
At MKB Law, we are fortunate that all our IT systems are in a hosted environment and we will continue to offer full services to our clients throughout this period. The firm also made the decision to move to a paperless environment over 12 months ago, which means that, while working from home, our solicitors, legal executives and staff have access to all necessary files and documents remotely.
This article is for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional legal advice.