January 26, 2023

Data Privacy Day: Seven Tips to Stronger Data Protection

Data Privacy Day is January 28 and is part of the “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.” campaign by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). Globally at the end of last year, data breaches rose by 70%. Identifying and implementing effective strategies and policies is instrumental for maintaining strong data security - not just on Data Privacy Day - but every day.

Below are seven tips to help maintain data privacy.

1. Understand your types of data.

To protect data effectively, you need to understand what information you create, collect, use, store, and share. You should know where your business keeps data and whether a third party is involved with its data. By answering these questions, companies can get clarity about what their information protection plan should include, where the risks are, and how they should prioritize mitigation strategies. 

2. Prioritize digital and physical information security.

Physical risks to information security include a bad actor stealing paper documents, computers, and external hard drives, whereas digital risks include malware, ransomware, and phishing. Physical security risks include the theft of items such as proprietary business records, employee files, tax filings, customer information, and medical records. Digital security risks include unauthorized access, system or human error, or a deliberate attack on a system or network. Developing a data protection strategy that prioritizes both digital and physical security risks is crucial in combatting data breaches.

3. Build awareness through ongoing training.

Employees at every level within a business must understand why preserving data privacy and security is so important. To help foster awareness, your business should consider periodic training that discusses the impact of data security breaches; regularly test employees’ ability to spot potential cybersecurity threats; send reminders to change passwords frequently, and so on. The more employees are aware of and can practice their role in data security strategies, the more likely they are to consistently follow precautions, help the business comply with relevant regulations, and avoid potential threats.

4. Be prepared with an incident response plan.

Unfortunately, you can still experience a data breach even if your organization has instituted a comprehensive data protection program. Business leaders should be prepared if a breach happens with an incident response plan. Developing and maintaining a documented, written plan for information technology professionals and staff can mitigate the potentially negative effects of a data security issue. Incident response plans are designed to save time and reduce staff stress, so they should also be practiced periodically to help personnel better understand their responsibilities and improve efficiency in its execution. Without intentional plans and designated tasks, companies can risk worsening the incident, along with damaging their reputations and bottom line.

5. Abide by and learn about current legislation.

There is privacy legislation that mandates that the government and organizations follow specific practices to help avoid data breaches involving personal data. Such requirements may exist at several levels: international, federal, provincial, and municipal. Tracking new and proposed data privacy laws and regulations can help your business stay compliant and better protect your customers’ data. 

6. Implement information security policies.

Implement and enforce easy-to-follow data protection policies, like a clean desk policy, which helps ensure physical documents are shredded or locked away and that all computing devices are protected each time an employee leaves a workspace.

Other policies to consider are record retention, bringing-your-own-device, email, internet use, and a Shred-it-all policy. Comprehensive policies can help prevent a data breach, which protects the organization, employees, and valued customers. 

7. Partner with a trusted third-party data destruction provider.

As companies navigate evolving data protection and information security regulations, the following checklist can help you decide if you have found a trusted partner in physical document destruction:

  • Has an excellent reputation and can provide references
  • Employs personnel that have undergone rigorous training and background checks
  • Provides lockable containers for documents before destruction
  • Shreds documents in a secured facility
  • Gives you the option of watching the document destruction with on-site services
  • Uses cross-cut shredders that can accommodate other media types, such as CDs and disks
  • Aims to recycle all shredded documents
  • Offers a FREE security risk assessment

Learn more about how Shred-it® can help with your physical data protection.