Safely Protecting Data and Documents When You Work with Contractors

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It’s increasingly common for businesses to work with remote contractors. It provides the opportunity to get the best talent no matter where your business is located in the world, it offers more flexibility to the business and the contractor, and it can reduce your overhead costs.

Some of the best talent tends to prefer working as a contractor because it gives them freedom in how and where they work, and they’re not tied to one particular employer. It gives them a great deal more control over their work and their life in general.

With the benefits of contractors, however, do come some things to be aware of. One thing you have to consider is how you’ll protect your data, documents, intellectual property and the like when you’re working with a contractor.

You don’t have the control over a contractor that you do with in-house employees with it comes to data protection and security, so the following are tips and things to keep in mind.

Use a Virtual Data Room

If the idea of sending privileged information back and forth unprotected over email or another similar platform makes you nervous, it should. One option to use if you work with freelancers is a virtual data room. Virtual data rooms are often used in mergers and acquisitions and similar transactions that require the transmission of sensitive company information and a lot of data and paperwork.

A virtual data room is an online software tool that’s specifically designed to securely hold digital documents.

You can provide login credentials to authorized users, and they can then log in with their specific user name and password.

Many companies will put essentially every component of their business into a virtual data room if they’re participating in an M&A transaction. They’re used by potential buyers to gain a full picture of the business, but these virtual data rooms have other applications as well.

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What to Consider Before Working with a Contractor

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Before you hire a contractor, it’s a good idea to do an audit and determine what they need access to, how they’ll access it, and how their activity will be tracked once they’re logged into certain systems. You also need to have a finite and specific plan in place for how you’ll revoke access to all systems and applications once they’ve completed their work.

It’s a good idea before ever even hiring someone to start thinking about what a contractor will need to have access to and what they don’t need access to. You can create an outline of the work that will be done and their duties to help you.

A virtual desktop can be something you might have contractors use, which can eliminate the risk of a contractor exposing your network to a virus.

With a virtual desktop, then your in-house IT team can help control everything, including roles and permissions remotely.

The very idea of a contractor is that their work has a definite start and endpoint, which is why revoking access is something you should be thinking about from the start of a contract.

You will have to ensure that you have a clear idea of everything the contractor had access to revoke these credentials.

You’ll also have to find a way to make sure none of your data or documents have been saved to a contractor’s personal devices.

By starting this proactively at the beginning, you then have a clear plan of action so things are less likely to fall through the cracks.

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General Tips When Working with Contractors

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Other things to generally keep in mind if you hire contractors who interact with your data and documents include:

  • Have security monitoring capabilities in place
  • Go over compliance and regulatory requirements with contractors and make sure they sign off on their understanding of these policies
  • Depending on the nature of your business and the work a contractor is going to do, you may need to ensure they have cyber liability insurance

At the most foundational level, you should also have contractors sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and anything else that might be relevant to your business or their work.

A contractor confidentially agreement is something that legally prevents contractors from disclosing any protected information from your business.

Noncompetes are something you might also have them sign, and if a contractor violates any of these agreements he or she signs, it can have serious legal ramifications for them.

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