Managing All Your Risks: How Subcontractors Can Manage Data Securely

Modern construction projects involve a lot of sensitive subcontractor data—from documentation to employees’ personal information, and more. Unfortunately, cybercrime is on the rise—and that subcontractor data is at risk now more than ever. If you think it can’t happen to you, think again: subcontractor data breaches hit organizations big and small—from the likes of Facebook, right down to the sole trader.

Eye-opening subcontractor data breach stats

  1. On April 3, 2021, the personal data of 533 million Facebook users was posted online for free in a low-level hacking forum. This data included users’ full names, biographical information, phone numbers, locations, and email addresses (IdentityForce).
  2. The average total cost of a ransomware breach is $4.62 million, slightly higher than the average data breach of $4.24 million (IBM). 
  3. An average of 4,800 websites a month are compromised with formjacking code (Symantec).

These stats show the importance of securing your company’s subcontractor data and managing the risk of a breach. Here are 8 ways subcontractors can secure their subcontractor data.

1. Encrypt company devices

One of the best ways to boost your cybersecurity is by encrypting your subcontractor data. If a device is encrypted, it will be useless to someone who tries to access its data without the right key or password.

There are several encryption methods available, but the most common are symmetric and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric encryption uses one key to encrypt and decrypt data, while asymmetric encryption uses a different key for each process.
A VPN, or virtual private network, is another way to create a secure connection over the internet. When you use a VPN, all of your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel, making it much harder to snoop on your data.

2. Ensure team members understand security best practices

subcontractor software
All security measures are futile if employees are circumventing your efforts with unsafe habits. So, make sure everyone on the team understands the security policies and best practices.
The best way to do this is by providing training and education on the topic. The more they know about how to stay safe online, the less likely they are to make careless mistakes. You can provide training in a variety of formats, such as online modules, in-person workshops, or even security awareness posters around the office.

3. Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication

Using strong passwords is one of the simplest and most effective ways to secure subcontractor data. A strong password should be at least 8 characters long and include a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

It’s a good idea to pair this with a password manager. A password manager is a software tool that helps you create and manage strong passwords. It stores all of your passwords in an encrypted database, so you only need to remember one master password. This can be an excellent tool when you have dozens of different accounts to keep track of.

Two-factor authentication makes your subcontractor data even safer by requiring confirmation of login identity through a second method, such as a one-time code sent to a smartphone.

4. Archive historical subcontractor data safely

Leaving old data unprotected is just as risky to your business as not securing your current data. Most businesses have an extensive asset inventory, filled with critical data about employees and subcontractors, projects, materials used in the construction process, past projects, and more. Securely storing this subcontractor data is paramount.

One way to do this is by using a secure project management tool specifically for contractors, which includes a document management system (DMS). A DMS is a software tool that helps you manage your documents. It stores all of your documents in an encrypted database so you can access them from any computer or mobile device. This makes it easy to find the data you need, when you need it.

5. Manage subcontractor data access policies and permissions

When it comes to data security, one of the most important steps is managing access permissions. This means establishing authorizations and appropriate levels of access for all stakeholders who will be using the system, including employees, subcontractors, and any other individuals who need access.
It’s also necessary to make sure that access is revoked for departing employees and subcontractors. This can be done manually, or you can use a tool that automates the process. If you’re taking the manual route, we recommend keeping track of access in a spreadsheet. This will help you stay organized and ensure that no one is left with access who shouldn’t have it.

6. Perform regular backups

Regular backups are one of the most important steps you can take to protect your data. If your primary data is lost or corrupted, you can restore it from your backup. This can be a lifesaver if you accidentally delete files or if your computer is infected with malware.
There are a variety of ways to perform backups, including online backup services, cloud storage services, and backup software. Choose a backup method that meets your needs and is compatible with your devices and operating system.

Alongside performing the backups, make sure you have a recovery protocol in place in case of failure. This means having a plan for how you will restore your subcontractor data if your backup is lost or corrupted.

7. Install security software

Security software protects your devices from malware, phishing attacks, and other online threats. Have security software installed on all devices that access your data, including computers, mobile devices, and tablets.
It’s critical that you discourage employees from using their personal devices for work tasks. If they must use their own devices, establish a clear understanding of the importance of installing security software and keeping it up to date.

8. Connect from trusted networks

Doing business online always comes with some level of risk. However, accessing critical systems through a public or unsecured network like a coffee shop or an “open” hotspot isn’t recommended for security reasons: these networks are easily hacked.
Make sure all your systems are connected via secure networks, either through a VPN or by using a private network. Also, remember to instruct employees on how to do the same when they’re working offsite.

How eSUB enhances the security posture of a construction project

eSUB is a secure, web-based application that enables subcontractors to submit, store, time stamp, and share encrypted documents online in real time. This allows subcontractors and project managers to have instant access to all project data and users, which helps reduce the risk of data breaches. With eSUB, you can be confident that your data is safe and secure.
If you want to create more efficient daily reports, schedule a demo to learn how eSUB can help.
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