July 17, 2024

Creating a Total Security Culture in Your Organization

In an era where data threats loom large and security breaches are on the rise, businesses of all sizes grapple with the important task of protecting sensitive information. Breaches can arise both in and out of the office and can come from external individuals or trusted employees. According to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, 74% of all breaches included the human element, revealing a significant risk to organizational security.

The financial repercussions of these breaches are equally troubling. According to IBM’s 2023 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the global average cost of a data breach now stands at approximately 4.45 million USD—a figure that has surged by 15% over the past three years. This uptick is not just a reflection of the increasing sophistication of cyber-attacks but also a reflection of the expanding regulatory fines and the growing expectations of customers for robust data protection.

Despite these statistics, however, there is hope. The key to turning the tide lies within each organization—its people. By fostering a total security culture, businesses have the opportunity to leverage their employees to safeguard their most valuable asset - data.

What is a Total Security Culture?

A robust total security culture extends beyond mere hyperawareness. It involves cultivating a corporate environment where employees consistently make decisions aligned with security policies. This includes ensuring staff comprehend security risks and mitigation strategies, implementing and enforcing safe operational procedures, and integrating knowledge and action in daily tasks. 

While investing in workforce training is vital for data security, justifying the expense to upper management can be challenging. However, it’s crucial to nurture a culture where data security permeates every facet of the organization, given the severe repercussions of data breaches.

Who is Responsible for Creating a Total Security Culture?

Data security isn’t solely the responsibility of the IT department. It should be a cross-departmental endeavor. A total security culture includes educating employees about secure document management and destruction.

When employees understand the significance of information security and their individual roles, they are more likely to take their responsibilities seriously, thereby playing a crucial role in shielding the company from data threats. By understanding the relevance of security measures in their daily tasks, employees are more likely to diligently adhere to their responsibilities and practices, such as self-reporting incidents, identifying malicious files, and flagging phishing emails.

Building and maintaining an effective security culture can help businesses mitigate the risks and damages from a data breach, thereby reducing operational costs. It also has the added benefit of motivating employees as 73% of employees claim that engagement in a company’s culture keeps them motivated. This can extend to the security culture.

How Can Businesses Implement a Security Culture?

A security culture must originate from the top and permeate the entire organization. When management demonstrates commitment, employees are more likely to follow suit. Here are some practical steps to establish a total security culture:

  • Identify Potential Risks: Understand the various risks threatening your organization’s information security, including customer, business, and employee information. Awareness of these risks is crucial for protection.
  • Examine Document Workflow and Lifecycle: By understanding the journey of each document, you can identify areas of improvement to better safeguard your confidential information.
  • Develop a Comprehensive Information Security Strategy: Use the key issues identified in the first two steps to formulate a strategy to secure your information and prevent potential data breaches.
  • Formulate Compliant Security Policies: Collaborate with your legal department or counsel and trusted third parties to ensure your company policies comply with state and federal privacy laws.
  • Control Access to Confidential Data: Regulate access to confidential data, both electronic and paper, based on the specific needs of different personnel categories. Certain information should be available only on a need-to-know basis, limiting exposure and securing confidential information.
  • Implement Physical Safeguards: Train your staff in secure document management and destruction. Implement a shred-it-all policy, requiring all employees to shred all papers when no longer needed before leaving the office. Enforce a clean desk policy, requiring employees to securely store sensitive materials.

Why Partnering with Professionals Helps Keep Data Safe

The risk of a data breach is not just a possibility but a reality that businesses must actively guard against. Making document destruction easy is a crucial step in integrating security into your company culture. By using a professional document destruction service like Shred-it®, you’re not just disposing of paper; you’re safeguarding your business’s future. Below are a few key benefits to using Shred-it®.

  • Scheduled Service: Implementing a regularly scheduled service allows for information to be safeguarded throughout the year. It serves as a constant reminder that security is not an afterthought but a priority, fostering a culture of vigilance and responsibility.
  • Digital Information Protection: In addition to paper documents, it’s vital to protect stored digital information. Avoid stockpiling old computers and other electronic devices that may contain sensitive data. Hard drive and e-media disposal helps ensure that all confidential data, whether printed or digital, is safely and securely disposed of.
  • Comprehensive Data Security: By entrusting your data destruction needs to Shred-it®, you benefit from a comprehensive data security solution with access to privacy and information security policies, trainings, and resources to help keep your business protected.
  • Peace of Mind: Ultimately, partnering with professionals like Shred-it® provides peace of mind. Knowing that your confidential information is being handled securely allows you to focus on what you do best — running your business.

Download our info sheet for more information about establishing a total security culture.

*This article is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances.


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