January 15, 2024

Home Business? Here’s How to Help Improve Data Security

Don’t assume a home business doesn’t have to worry about data security. Self-employed entrepreneurs that run businesses as sole proprietors or independent contractors in their homes have the same data security responsibilities and challenges as any small business.

Home businesses, like all other small businesses, are susceptible to data breaches and have fewer resources and budget compared to larger organizations to invest in data security. If a breach does happen, it can be crippling due to potential regulatory actions, fines, legal expenses, and customer loss.

The 2023 Shred-it® Data Protection Report (DPR) found that despite the vast majority of small business leaders (SBLs) surveyed believing in the importance of data and information protection, most (78%) SBLs admit they are not taking an extremely proactive approach to data security.

According to the DPR, many SBLs are prioritizing protection against digital security risks, and, as such, their organizations are left exposed and more vulnerable to physical security risks. Only 25% of SBLs surveyed indicated that they collect and destroy sensitive materials when no longer needed (e.g., printed materials, hard drives). SBLs should also implement processes to protect their company’s sensitive physical materials, in addition to putting more stringent digital safeguards in place.

Below are several tips on how to help improve data security in your home business.

Assess Risks

  • Evaluate what kind of confidential data is handled, what your responsibility is to protect that data according to privacy laws, and what the potential security risks are.
  • Review the security processes of businesses you work with such as vendors, suppliers, and partners, and remediate any identified issues. You may have to consider switching vendors based on your findings, as it may cost you more if there is a breach.
  • Keep up to date about cyber threats and best practices for small businesses to help protect against attackers.

Improve Physical and Digital Data Storage

  • Implement a document management program to store and destroy documents. Retention requirements and ease of retrieval are key.
  • Implement a clean desk policy to help ensure physical documents are shredded or contained in locked storage and that all technological devices are password protected each time you leave your workspace. 
  • Digitize paper documents, if possible, by scanning and saving them to secure cloud-storage or transferring them to a CD, DVD, or external hard drive.
  • Create backups of digitized records and store them in a secure location.

Purge Data

  • Ensure information is managed according to compliance needs. Many documents have a recommended retention period, depending on their importance and content. There may be laws and regulations that dictate which documents need to be kept and for how long (such as contracts, invoices, accounting and tax papers, receipts, billing, expense forms, and client information). 
  • Purge stored documents regularly to reduce the volume of information.

Secure Document and Hard Drive Destruction

  • Shred paper documents that are no longer required and do not throw in unsecure trash or recycling bins. Use a secure paper shredding service that ensures your confidential documents are properly disposed of and recycled, reducing waste and promoting sustainability.
  • Implement a shred-it-all policy which encourages the regular destruction of all documents. This policy encourages you to consider if there are any requirements to retain the document (in accordance with internal policy), and, if not, then immediately and securely dispose of it.
  • Securely destroy hard drives and other e-media when no longer needed. Confidential information can be recovered from old hard drives. Some professional document destruction services, like Shred-it®, also provide hard drive and storage media destruction services.

Use a Professional Shredding Service

For home businesses, there are several convenient options to securely dispose of documents, including professional document destruction services, such as Shred-it®, which offers residential shredding, drop-off shredding at a local facility, or community shredding events.

Start Protecting Your Business 

Learn more about how Shred-it® can protect your small business with our secure document and hard drive destruction services.