How Open as App Can Help You with Data Security During Remote Work

Repost from Open as App | 29 April 2020

Remote work can be great for productivity and efficiency, especially if you have the right tools. But when employees shift to working remotely, they frequently do not have the same means or backing by the IT department to properly secure their data. Remote work can then, unfortunately, increase data and systems vulnerability.


Moreover, working outside of the usual company IT environment, employees may also see themselves challenged to find the best way of communicating and sharing data with colleagues and clients. This is particularly valid with the use of personal devices and unsecured WiFi networks, as well as the proliferation of all sorts of online scams, particularly at a time of social disturbances. Apart from #security, this also negatively impacts #productivity.

When employees are forced to work outside of the usual company IT, they must be provided with tools that allow them to continue their work with as little disturbance as possible.

Keep reading for a few suggestions about how you can ensure the security of your systems and data, and how Open as App can help you in this process!


Cybersecurity and remote work


In the wake of the increase in remote work, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the European cybersecurity agency ENISA have come up with a series of suggestions about how companies should address the situation. Most of these recommendations are addressed at employers and the technical measures they can take. Some of them also address employees and the types of routines they should adopt in order to avoid stumbling into any security threats.


Employer recommendations

Both the NCSC and ENISA recommend that employers institute a number of different procedures, in order to assist employees, as well as introduce various technical measures. Here are some of their recommendations.


  • Create written guidelines for any new tools that employees will be using or for alternative uses of already existing tools.

  • Provide procedures and feedback on how to react when problems arise – i.e. who to contact for support, how to determine the severity of an issue, and what to do in a security emergency situation.

  • Institute and prioritise the use of remote access software.

  • Introduce virtual solutions such as electronic signatures and online approval of workflows to ensure that work can go on uninterrupted.

  • Implement greater access restrictions to sensitive and valuable systems.

  • Set up devices with the help of mobile device management (MDM) tools. Such software also allows you to remotely lock a device, retrieve a backup, and/or delete data from a stolen device.

  • Enable data encryption on all devices. This will protect the data if a device gets lost or is stolen.

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), but make sure they are up to date and patched, to ensure proper security of organisational resources.


Employee recommendations

Both agencies also detail a number of measures that employees can take to ensure that they do not compromise the safety of their devices or data. These include:


  • Check the security of your Wi-Fi connection. Older systems may compromise the security of your traffic.

  • Install and keep anti-virus, security software (privacy tools, add-ons, etc.), and encryption tools updated regularly.

  • Use password managers and two-factor authentication (2FA) for all your logins.

  • Back your important data up regularly.

  • Lock your computer if you work in a public space.

  • Separate work and leisure activities on different devices.

  • Be suspicious of emails from people you do not know, asking you to open a link or attachment or messages from people you know that sound strange and include unusual requests. Double-check any messages from people you know by phone.


Since data sharing is such an important part of everyday work, the NCSC also recommends that companies introduce new collaboration tools that allow employees to securely share information.

Open as App can help you address issues of data sharing in a secure way by providing you with the capability to create apps from your data.


How Open as App can help you with remote work


The Open as App platform is a tool to create apps from structured data (i.e. data in spreadsheets). Using an app allows you to share structured data securely, while at the same time maximising your productivity in the process.


This app creation process is very easy to set up and does not require any IT support. It works for businesses of all sizes, from self-employed freelancers to big enterprises, and is instantly ready to use.


Here’s how Open as App can help you with data sharing and security when you and your team are working remotely.


Share data in a controlled and secure way

When you create an app with the platform, you have full control over what kind and amount of data you want to make visible in the app. In this way, you can hide sensitive company data from view while your app retains the logic of your spreadsheet such as formulas and connections between fields. In other words, you can only make those fields visible which end-users require, without revealing the logic behind them.


For example, if you use Excel to create financial reports, you can reveal important financial information, but hide sensitive information such as customer data and contacts. Users have no way of going around this limitation since the app does not contain the data in the first place.


Guarantee data privacy

Open as App allows you to easily manage who has access to the app and to what extent. You can limit access to the app to specific people, making sure that nobody else can use the app.


To guarantee data privacy, Open as App is backed by Microsoft Azure Europe. This is where your data is stored when you upload and save your data to openasapp.com. When you create your app based on data you host in another cloud-like OneDrive, Google Sheets or Dropbox, the spreadsheet is only processed for a couple of seconds during the app creation process but is not stored, nor viewed by Open as App.


But if you’re concerned about your data during the app creation process, you can avoid the interaction between your original data and the Open as App cloud altogether. The important thing for the creation of your app is the logic of the spreadsheet. So if you want, you can substitute your original data with “dummy data”.


You then link your spreadsheet via a cloud service you are using and create the app. Once your app is ready, you can substitute the dummy data in the spreadsheet with the original data. This will then show up in your app, without any contact between your data and the Open as App platform.


Regardless of how you create your app, your data cannot be accessed by anyone, neither Open as App nor third parties, which means that at all times your data is only accessible to you. On your mobile device, any data of your app is securely stored in encrypted storage, protected by your credentials and the Microsoft Data Protection API (DPAPI).


Furthermore, companies who are using Mobile Device Management systems like MobileIron or Microsoft Intune can integrate Open as App into their mobile security settings.


Connect to the cloud provider of your choice

You don’t need to have the file stored on your own device. If instead, you have your files stored on a cloud provider, you can connect to these directly through Open as App. These include Dropbox, SharePoint, OneDrive, Google Drive, and others.


Given that such cloud providers are already set up securely, you can be sure that your data will not be compromised in any way.


Use in Microsoft Teams

Open as App can also be used with Microsoft Teams. You can add an app to a tab in any of your MS Teams hubs. In this way, you do not need to share your app separately with other users but can do so within the environment you already use for collaboration.



How to set up Open as App quickly for remote work


Setting up Open as App for remote work is fast and quite easy.


Once you’ve turned your spreadsheet into an app, you can proceed with creating teams, granting access to other users, such as team members or guests, creating and managing user groups, etc. Creating groups allows you to share apps only with specific teams, such as Sales or Marketing, though you can also grant users access to several groups at once.


And if you have an Enterprise license, you are granted two further roles, creator and admin, that allow you to make your remote work even more efficient. In this setup, admins can assign app creation tasks to creators. The latter then create an app that is approved by team admins before it is rolled out. This way, you can streamline your app creation process and roll out all the apps you need in a very short amount of time.


Working remotely can feel like a stretch initially, and it also presents a variety of productivity and security challenges that need to be addressed. By implementing security recommendations across the company, you are significantly less likely to suffer any damages or losses to your data. Open as App can also assist you in this situation by providing you with a service to share data securely while making it more accessible and useful.


Are you curious to give it a try? Try our Free version and create your first app right away!