holiday mall

Are Seasonal Workers Putting Your Business Data at Risk?

The influx of temporary workers can often threaten data security for retailers. But it doesn't have to.

Heading into the holidays, it's predicted that companies are on pace to hire hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers in the final quarter of the year.

Traditional retailers are not the only ones preparing to bring on these temporary workers. Many traditional enterprises, such as professional services companies, will also bring on short-term contract workers over the next few months to meet heightened demands in Q4.

While businesses consider the benefits of bringing on temporary workers to help wrap-up year-end priorities, this influx of new workers also raises important questions related to data security. Do short-term workers receive the same security onboarding and training? What type of proprietary information will they be accessing? What control mechanisms are in place for those workers – especially for those who might be working offsite?

Before this year’s seasonal workers walk through the doors and step into their daily roles and responsibilities, organizations should reassess their internal processes to ensure seasonal workers have both the knowledge and resources necessary to help protect business data. Below are a few considerations.

Get a full picture of potential threats

Even with a strong security framework in place to help safeguard data from external hackers and threats, an influx of new employees during the busiest time of year can open the door to new vulnerabilities right within the walls of an organization. Internal threats are a rising security concern among IT professionals, as Canon’s recent Office of the Future survey revealed that malicious insiders (30%) and human error (25%) are viewed as the top two cyber threats across the enterprise today.

Understanding that most threats start from the inside is helpful for all employees who interact closely with short-term workers, as it’s a reminder to be intentional and err on the side of caution when it comes to the amount of data shared with them – not just to their personal devices, but also shared workflow collaboration tools and connected devices, such as printers.

Invest in thorough training and ongoing education

For many seasonal employees, security is an afterthought, simply given the nature of their short-term commitment to the organization. An important part of equipping contract workers to meet security and compliance standards is to ensure that they understand their role across the broader network.

Providing a clear overview of how each individual plays a role in either contributing to or preventing cyber threats in their position can help to create accountability among employees. Whether it’s simply addressing these blind spots or walking seasonal employees through the built-in security features of each device in the office, ongoing education can go a long way.

Address the learning curve

Seasonal hires often have varied backgrounds and skillsets when it comes to adopting and leveraging new technologies, so there’s no one-size-fits-all for cybersecurity training. Many employees can confidently navigate the digital workplace, while others may require more time and training to adapt. While proactively addressing this learning curve is a great first step, it is important for companies to take equal responsibility for their security strategies by meeting these seasonal workers halfway.

In addition to training, one way that organizations can mitigate challenges related to technological competency is utilizing intuitive technology that include security features.

For example, companies can adopt integrated solutions and printing devices that include security features, device authentication and visibility into how data is being accessed on multi-function printers (MFPs) across the office. These capabilities, similar to those of Canon’s uniFLOW solution, can help make devices and technologies more approachable for new, seasonal workers by keeping up with the pace of the digital workforce and providing the back-end support to meet the needs of employees.

Create a second line of defense

At the end of the day, unintentional errors from both full-time employees and seasonal workers will happen, whether that’s accessing an unprotected network or accidentally opening a phishing email. By investing in office devices with built-in security features that can help users encrypt data or automatically delete a print job when it’s complete for example, organizations can have a second line of defense that will help limit some potential cyber threats.

While ensuring your organization is prepared for the busy Q4 with the latest technologies and security frameworks in place, heading into a successful holiday season with the help of temporary employees requires a fresh perspective on what it means to equip and empower short-term workers. It’s when all employees can confidently protect business data at each touchpoint across the enterprise that an organization can effectively operate.

About the Author

Mike Betsko is the director of Solutions Sales & Marketing for Canon U.S.A.

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