January 16, 2023

5 Ways to Protect Confidential Information

Start the new year off on a good foot and with data protection top of mind. Each year technology seems to get more complex, and fraudsters find new ways to try and steal confidential information. There is a growing need for data protection strategies in both professional and personal spaces. Comprehensive data protection solutions that include electronic, online, and paper documents can help ensure that digital and physical data is secure at work and home.

Whether online or on paper, at home or in an office, learn five ways to help protect confidential information:

Do not share confidential data unless necessary.

Before sharing confidential information, find out why it’s needed and how it will be protected. Be guarded online, and don’t over-share personal details on social networking sites. Always set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices. When sending sensitive information by text or email, double-check recipients and necessity. Be careful of phishing schemes where thieves try to steal personal and financial information by sending deceptive emails or text messages. According to Verizon, most data breaches (82%) in 2022 involved a human element. Hackers know that humans are susceptible to sharing information.

Be alert for scams, both online and in person.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) report on occupational fraud, it is estimated that organizations lose 5% of revenue to fraud each year. People should be wary of online and in-person attempts to steal confidential information. Learn to recognize different scams by checking trusted websites and attending ongoing education provided by employers. Always be suspicious of unsolicited emails, especially those that require immediate action and contain spelling or other mistakes. Scrutinize emails with links and attachments. When in doubt, delete. For example, a fraudster might ask for confidential information through a fake holiday gift email. An in-person scam could be someone pretending to be a census worker asking for personal information.

Keep confidential information under “lock.”

Protect both physical and digital data by ensuring it is locked when not in use. Physically lock electronic devices and use available IT locks like biometrics and security keys. Choose strong passwords (not the default or an easy-to-guess password), and don’t use the same one on different accounts. Place physical documents in locked cabinets when you no longer need them. Implementing a clean desk policy can help protect both physical and digital data. The policy requires physical documents to be shredded or contained each time an employee leaves a workspace and that all technological devices are password protected and incorporate 2FA (two-factor authentication).

Be careful when using public Wi-Fi.

Whether doing business out of the office or taking care of personal business in a public space, such as banking, taxes, or online shopping, use a virtual private network (VPN). Even if a device is password protected, taking extra steps helps ensure unauthorized users do not find virtual access to private information.

Dispose of confidential information securely.

Whether disposing of information at home or in the office, do not toss confidential data in the trash can or recycling bin. These disposal processes will not prevent criminals from sorting through piles of paper to find private information. When documents have reached their end of life, confidential papers should be disposed of in a locked container destined for shredding prior to disposal, using shredding services like Shred-it®.

A trusted shredding partner can help both in the office and at home. Shred-it® offers:

Learn how Shred-it® can help protect your personal and professional confidential information with secure document and electronic device destruction.