WASHINGTON, October 17, 2013 — Until about four years ago, I only worked at an office, which required commuting to work daily. Even though many of us knew people who worked from home some of the time, or remotely from some other location, it just wasn’t something we had to do.
Everything changed the moment I got an internet job that required me to work with teams of people stationed around the country at different offices. Soon, I was working from home, the office, coffee shops and even from friends’ offices. The ensuing years would find me at a myriad of new jobs, each with their own offices and work-from-home rules. I am now so attached to working on the go that it’s easy to forget all that time once spent chained to an office.
Millions of people all over the world are experiencing this change in where they work. People are now communicating with their coworkers and managers through personal smartphones and tablets. They’re using cloud storage to hold and back up their work files and their personal music collections together.
According to a 2012 survey, 74 percent of businesses now allow workers to use their own device in order to access corporate information. This “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” trend is giving rise to incredible freedom for workers in terms of accessing information through the cloud, but is also giving rise to security threats. As a mobile worker, you have to be on guard for malware, phishing scams and hackers while performing your day-to-day work.
1. Cloud Access and Storage Must Be Secure
Millions of mobile workers are looking for a secure place to store their work and personal documents, pictures, movies and more in the cloud. People aren’t going to trust a company to store their data without a guarantee they’ll be able to access their own files wherever and whenever they want. More importantly, they have to trust that they are the only ones who can access their files — after all, these are their files.
Companies like Box and Bitcasa allow users to securely move gigabytes of data from their mobile devices to the cloud. They secure your files through the use of encryption technology. This means they use a complex algorithm to encode and disguise your files to keep them private. Bitcasa also offers an specific encryption technology called client-side encryption that encrypts all your files before they leave your computer. This means your files are never exposed on the Internet, even when you’re working over a coffee shop wifi.
2. It Must Be Available on Any Device, Even Offline
In order to pick up new customers, cloud storage companies are working diligently to make their services available on operating systems compatible with almost any device. The best services provide Web browser access to manage and view your cloud files since pretty much every device these days comes with a browser. Sugarsync and Box are available on any operating system except for Linux.
Some services aren’t yet available for Blackberry or Windows phones. It goes without saying that whatever service you choose, make sure it’s available on all your devices if possible.
It’s also a great idea to enable offline access for your cloud storage app. Simply put, this feature gives you access even when you’re without an internet connection. This is highly important for those of us working on the go. If you’re taking a flight to attend a conference or meet a client, offline access helps you review files on the plane. This same feature can be very useful even in everyday situations when your Internet connection is spotty or unavailable.
3. Does it Synch?
Mobile workers are getting more and more sophisticated when it comes to cloud storage. We’re long past the days of carrying around an external hard drive that wasn’t designed to connect to your phone.
The future of storage is in the cloud where your files are available anywhere, anytime. Bitcasa for instance let’s you move everything into their “Infinite Drive” without synching, which means you can move your big files there and free up space on all your devices. Dropbox and others let you synch all your files to each of the devices you use.
All these things essentially serve as automatic backup, providing peace of mind in knowing that your files are safe even if your computer crashes or the company database goes down. Also, most of these services let you share your files via social media, or privately via email.
4. It’s All About Security
There’s a lot more that people can do to complement the security that cloud storage services already have in place. The September Mobile Workforce Report from iPass surveyed mobile workers and discovered that 73 percent of them were required by their IT departments to have some sort of security program in place in order to access corporate data from a smartphone. Most are now requiring that people lock their mobile devices.
The report also found that 76 percent of mobile workers are required to have a lock on their smartphones. Many companies are also educating their employees on the risks of public WiFi networks. Workers may want to adjust their online behavior depending on what kind of network they are using to access their company’s information.
Incorporating those tips and some “must haves” from cloud storage, you will soon be on your way to moving safely and securely through your day-to-day workload.
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