February 12, 2019

Ask the Expert: What are the data and cyber security trends you're seeing in 2019?

When thinking of security risks, you may be concerned about credit card fraud, the possibility of having your passport stolen or even having your laptop hacked, exposing confidential information to the public.

This week, Shred-it’s Ann Nickolas shares her own personal insights on what the most surprising areas of risk are. In her role, Ann leads national account teams and helps companies with information security solutions – which include both paper and electronic media.

Who better to learn what these risks are, than from Ann herself?

In your role, what are some of the common data security trends that you are seeing?

Privacy and information security is a hot topic these days. Businesses are placing a heightened concern on the topic of data protection, and investing in more staff training and new roles, such as the Chief Information Security Officer, as a result. In terms of trends, the answer is two-fold. First, the rise of the open office concept and remote workforce creates an increased chance that a data breach will occur. Our 2018 Security Tracker validates this trend, and specifically points to the fact that millennials are the least likely to prioritize information security practices – and they are dominating the workforce these days.

Secondly, government and legislators are addressing these risks with increased regulations. Just this past year we saw the introduction of two new pieces of legislation: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the Digital Privacy Act. Both pieces of legislation send a signal to both businesses and consumers that data protection is a real possibility, and it is not enough to take a passive role – you must be proactive.

What are some proactive ways to decrease the chance of a data breach of happening?

It is important to make information security routines a regular part of your day. To start, I would make sure that your company trains employees – throughout the year- on best practices. Educate each individual employee and let them know that they have a duty and responsibility to shred confidential documents at the end of every day. They should also be trained on travel protocols. With many employees having to travel for work, it is important to educate employees on these risks. Employees should shred boarding passes and lock all documents in a safe upon arrival.

Other ways to decrease the chance of a data breach of happening is to set regular reminders on all employees’ computers and mobile devices to re-set their password every month. This might sound tedious, but just think, one data breach can cost your organization millions of dollars, not to mention the reputation damage at both an individual and organizational level that could occur.

What are some of the most surprising areas of risk you have seen?

One of the most surprising areas of risk that I have seen is the increased security measures put in place on the cyber security front – yet everyday physical documents tend to be ignored. Just think of all the physical documents that exist in your workplace. Confidential files in recycling bins, old laptops, USB sticks and meeting agenda notes. It is fair to conclude that physical documents are still a leading cause of a data breach, and the proper precautions must be put in place.

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