Telecommuting’s Rise Causing Privacy and Security Headaches

To protect company information from being exposed outside the office, policies on downloading non-company approved software and using peer-to-peer file sharing applications do exist for telecommuting employees. However, the use of certain tools such as firewalls to enforce such policies are only applicable when employees are connected to the internal office network.

Organizations can also help protect sensitive information by conducting tailored, periodic background checks for all employees based their role, location and level of exposure to confidential information. Although more than 75% of respondents perform such activities (including background checks and drug tests) prior to employment and 15% continue these initiatives periodically (as appropriate), the types of activities being done do not seem to vary based on whether or not the employee is a telecommuter or resides in the main office.

The report also addresses the protection of hard-copy files, the use of privacy enhancing technologies, the adoption of biometric technology and limitations on the use of email, in addition to monitoring of telecommuter activity by employers.

About The Survey

A diverse group of 73 corporate and government organizations representing 10 industries in the US, Canada and Europe participated in the study. About half the survey respondents hold a Fortune designation, including 20% of the Fortune 100 companies, and range in size from over 100,000 to under 100 employees.

The average number of employees from all organizations in the sample was approximately 50,000. Participating organizations submitted one completed survey, but answers could come from more than one individual. The Web-based survey was conducted between December 2007 and January 2008.