Data Protection: Best Practices For Virtual Assistants
As a Virtual Assistant (VA), you’re known to be able to perform a wide variety of Virtual Assistant tasks. Some of those tasks—like those that revolve around administrative processes, customer support, and data entry, among others—deal with sensitive information. As such, data protection is expected to be among both your and your clients’ best interests.
Here are a few top practices you can follow as a VA:
Install Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware, and Anti-Ransomware Software
Viruses and malware can damage, delete, or steal your files. Meanwhile, ransomware can leave you unable to access your computer or any specific files it targets. It’s highly recommended that you educate yourself on the different types of viruses, malware, and ransomware. Then, choose the best software available that fits your requirements and install them. After all, as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
Establish a Data Breach Protocol
With the amount of sensitive information you handle as a VA, keep in mind that data breaches are one of your biggest enemies. While they aren’t welcome nor expected, it’s still best to establish a concrete protocol on addressing them if they come up. When you find yourself in the middle of a data breach, your first priority should be to immediately put an end to it. But what comes next when a VA has successfully done that?
Notify your clients immediately. You only process the data you have. You don’t fully control it. Therefore, you should consult with your clients on the steps they want to take in protecting their data in the future.
Use Cloud Services
Choose a trusted, safe, and secure cloud backup platform. Storing data online allows dedicated virtual assistants to keep less physical documents which may be lost more easily. On the other hand, when you’re getting rid of unnecessary data, remember to check the files and media stored online. After all, data protection also involves knowing how to properly dispose of data on your cloud backup service is just as important as overwriting data on your local drives and physically destroying hardware.
Enable Two Factor Authentication (2FA)
Single-factor authentication (SFA) methods have become the norm. Signing up for a new website or for a subscription service gives you a unique username and password. In this scenario, your account’s safety and security are solely dependent on the strength of your password. And while users are discouraged from using the same password across multiple platforms, they continue to do so in order to avoid forgetting them.
The practice has become so widespread that the narrative has shifted to promote the use of two-factor authentication instead. Contrary to SFA, this data protection method presents an additional security layer. In essence, the general idea is to make it more difficult to access your account in order to prevent data breaches from happening in the first place.
For instance, while using a desktop computer, you can request for a Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) while logging into your account. The platform will then send you a verification code to your mobile device via SMS. You will only be able to successfully log in once you input the correct code. 2FA is also often seen in the form of facial or fingerprint scans.
Secure your phone
As a VA, your phone can contain sensitive information as well, like messages with your clients and call logs, for example. More than simply minimizing the amount of data you store on your phone, you should also be critical of the wireless networks it connects to. Data protection measures for mobile devices can easily be overlooked when you’re focusing on building a secure system surrounding your computer and its connections.
Install a password manager
As an alternative precautionary measure to protect data, virtual assistants can also utilize a password manager. This way, you no longer have to reuse passwords and memorize every single one of them. Instead, whenever you need to log into any account, you can simply input your master password into your password manager and it logs you on the corresponding website.
Depending on the software you use, you may also gain additional security layers. These include features like encryption and decryption processes, analytics for your passwords’ strengths, automatic password changers, and more.
Maximize other data protection methods too
It’s worth noting that in order to secure sensitive information, VAs shouldn’t limit themselves to select data protection methods only. There will always be room for improvement.As a virtual assistant in the Philippines, make it a part of your responsibilities to get more information and details about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Remember to include similar and complementary laws regarding data protection in your country as well.
Limit file sharing. Read through the privacy policies of any services you may be using. Read reviews on any new software for virtual assistants, especially those you intend to use. Thoroughly evaluate updates—whether they’re from your operating system, software, website, themes, or plugins.
It’s worth noting that the data protection measures you’ll need as a VA also depends on the types of data you deal with and how frequently you work with them. It’s best to assess your current work system, processes, and protocols first. Then, structure your data protection strategy around what works best for you.