Spring Clean Your Workplace

Now, we don’t mean getting out the Clorox wipes and scrubbing down the top of your desks, we really mean making sure your office and workers stations are “Clean” against possible security gaps.

Here are a few ways for businesses to protect themselves against a data breach

For businesses large and small, misplacing documents, files, and electronic devices remains one of the key causes of security breaches, across the board. According to an information security breaches survey, 90% of large organizations and 74% of SMEs reported a security breach, leading to an estimated total of $1.4Billion in regulatory fines and or loss of potential new revenue.  Remember, word travels very fast on social media and if your company has fallen victim to a data breach, it could take you a very long time to earn back the trust of your clients.

It’s more important than ever for businesses to take stock of their information security processes. If data breaches remain at 2015/16 levels, it’s possible that we could see a nearly 90-fold increase in fines paid to regulators. And this does NOT add in the loss of customer trust that always affects your bottom line.

Disposing of old documents and electronic devices could save you and your organization from falling victim to costly data breaches, fraud, and reputational damage. Loose papers lingering around your desks and yellowing old documents stuffed into cabinet drawers could contain personal and confidential information which could put you and your business at risk.

Businesses should securely dispose of old files, papers, and electronic devices to help protect such confidential information from insider fraud or security breaches caused by human error.

Here are Shred-it’s five top tips for a secure workplace spring clean:

Declutter your workspace.  It is really worth the time to assess whether your business is getting the information security basics right.

Although decluttering desk space may seem like an obvious solution, too many companies still fall short when it comes to getting the fundamentals in order. Ensure employees remove all papers and non-essential items from their desks that may contain confidential information. Implementing a Clean Desk Policy, which requires employees to clear their desks when they are away from them and at the end of each working day, eliminates the risk of documents, files and even sticky notes containing sensitive information from going astray.

If you don’t already have one in place, implement a comprehensive document storage system, given that many businesses are required by law to retain confidential employee and client information as well as company data for a stipulated period of time, it’s vital businesses have a secure document-retention policy in place.

Implement a companywide policy that not only determines which documents need to be kept and for how long, but which also places a limit on the number and type of personnel that has access to storage facilities passwords and files.

Ensure confidential information is securely disposed of – take the time to review how securely your business disposes of confidential information. Disposing of material in open recycling or waste bins could pose a serious threat to the information of your company and clients. Instead, consider partnering with an information destruction services expert, to professionally manage your whole document disposal and recycling process, including hard drive and electronic media destruction.

Secure your data, both in and out of the office – carrying out a spring clean should by no means be restricted just to the office, or to physical documents or files. All electronic devices used in the office and by employees on the move should be encrypted and password protected. Additionally, businesses should remind their employees to be fully aware of their surroundings when working from home or in a public setting, ensuring confidential information is not left lying around or visible to onlookers.  This will be the topic of another post in the near future.

Equip your workplace for random spot checks from security watchdog organizations. Businesses can get ahead of the curve by ensuring that they adhere to the new regulatory standards, for example by appointing a designated employee from your server staff as the data protection officer and adopting specific rules that everyone is aware of and making it mandatory that they follow them explicitly.  Then make sure your data protection officer knows the steps needed to be followed in the event that there is a data breach.

Workplace security is paramount more so today than ever.  We have all seen this with multiple hacking incidents that are taking place not only in brand name companies but also in the government.

So, take the steps now to make sure your workplace environment is clean and sterile of any customer or corporate information that is laying around so you don’t leave your business open to an embarrassing, social media exposé!