September 08, 2022

Identifying Everyday Data Protection Strategies

In recent years, data protection has transformed compliance considerations and is now a cornerstone of corporate reputation. Shred-it’s 2021 Data Protection Report found that four in five consumers decide what company to do business with based on their data security reputation. Another recent study found that approximately half of consumers will switch brands after one bad data protection experience. Simply put, data protection is no longer an added benefit but a vital part of every organization’s survival.

Businesses need effective data security protocols from the moment data is collected until it is safely discarded. Documents disposed in recycling or trash bins could easily be stolen by malicious actors and used for identity theft or other types of fraud. Secure disposal of information is one way to help ensure that customers’ sensitive data are protected. However, before establishing a data management system, business leaders should understand the factors that could put their organization at risk of a data breach.

Preventing Data Breaches Starts with Understanding Risks

Most organizations recognize the value of effective data security and secure information destruction. In fact, Shred-it’s 2021 Data Protection Report found that more than half of all of the business leaders surveyed believe data security is “very important” to their company. However, not every business is aware of the specific areas where they could improve security practices. Shred-it’s experienced team identified the data security risks they see most frequently and what companies can do to help address them:

Large collection of confidential data

Any organization that collects, stores, and uses a large amount of sensitive personal data could be at higher risk of a data breach. For example, finance and insurance firms collect phone numbers, addresses, bank numbers, social security numbers, and more. If this information is stored for long periods of time, especially in a physical format, it can become a target for malicious actors. Shred-it recommends securely disposing documents as soon as they are no longer needed to help limit the risk of exposure of confidential information.

Lack of employee training

An organization’s employees can be its best line of defense against a data breach, but too often workers are unaware of how they should manage and securely dispose of confidential data. Shred-it’s 2021 Data Protection Report found that employee error accounted for 22% of the reported data breaches. Many organizations do not offer regular information security trainings and some have no data protection policies in place, according to the 2021 Data Protection Report. Employee training is the bedrock of proper data security, and employees should have effective training annually and during their onboarding.

Areas of high data exposure

If no effective data protection protocols are in place, certain areas of an office might carry a high risk of data exposure. For instance, employees might leave large amounts of confidential information by printers or in recycling bins, where they can easily be stolen. A clean desk policy can help protect companies from bad actors taking sensitive documents from an employee’s desk when left unattended. Companies should consider putting policies in place that directly address and help protect data in these high-risk areas.

Hard drives and other specialty data storage

Some organizations use effective data protection procedures for paper documents but have no policies for other types of physical data storage, such as hard drives, floppy disks, and old computers. These forms of storage can carry thousands of pieces of protected information in a relatively small package, making them easy targets. Having a comprehensive data management plan in place can help protect all forms of data storage, whether physical or digital.

Lack of documentation

When managing large amounts of data, it is easy to lose track of where and when confidential information is collected, stored, and destroyed. Malicious actors can use this confusion to their advantage, so organizations should keep a detailed record of any data storage or collection. Keeping evidence of data, from collection to destruction, is a critical piece of data security protocols.  

Introducing Shred-it's New Online Risk Assessment Tool 

As a leading provider of safe and secure business information destruction, Shred-it can be an instrumental part of your data destruction plan, helping to meet your everyday needs and assist in protecting your corporate reputation.

Now, identifying potential risks is even easier with Shred-it’s new online information security risk assessment tool. This easy-to-navigate online assessment helps reveal key data security considerations, such as the types and amounts of confidential information, how it is collected, and how it is stored. Once the assessment is submitted, you will receive a quantifiable estimate of potential risks to your organization. From there, our local representatives can help you determine the best approach to address any concerns and help protect your organization. The online tool is always free of charge and requires no commitment.

If in need of professional shredding services, the completed Shred-it online risk assessment will also serve to customize a shredding program to best fit your company’s needs. Shred-it understands that every business and industry has unique needs and regulatory requirements. The Shred-it team of experienced information security professionals is ready to help you address your data protection concerns.

Complete your online information security risk assessment to see your business’ potential data risks.