October 16, 2018

Security in the Office: 6 Tips for a Secure Fall Clean-Out

If you believe fall is the best time to get organized, you're not alone. At home, kids have started a new school year, but it also makes sense in the workplace because many businesses are still ramping up after the summer slowdown, and even planning for the following year.

While a clean, decluttered office has been shown to improve employee health, happiness, and efficiency, another significant benefit is improving the data security in the office.

In open concept workplaces, sensitive information is often left out in the open and within easy reach. Even in traditional office settings, piles of files and work-related data sitting out on desks, stacked in hallways, and stored on hard drives, can put confidential data at risk to insider fraudsters and other information thieves.

Security in the office must be considered during a clean up. Here are 6 important aspects of cleaning out the office – and protecting confidential information.

  1. SECURITY ASSESSMENT: Awareness is the first step. Before a purge, conduct an information security risk assessment of information processes and people that handle or manage sensitive information in the workplace. The assessment should look at office document security, employee training, off-site document security, as well as document retention and identify the biggest security gaps.  
  2. DOCUMENT RETENTION: All businesses and workplaces are required by law to retain confidential client, employee, and company information for a minimal amount of time. Having a retention schedule as part of the document management process is key to knowing what needs to be kept based on usefulness and legal requirements. Documents should be clearly labeled.  
  3. DATA STORAGE:  It is common practice for a workplace to store old data around the office. There should be security protocols in place for storing data in lockable filing cabinets, drawers and offices. Cleaning out that storage is important too. When documents have outlived their purpose, holding onto them puts a company at risk for a security breach and non-compliance with privacy legislation. 
  4. DIGITAL DATA: Computer clean-up is just an important part of office organization. Regularly clear out and refresh digital data to keep devices running smoothly and protect security. Delete unused files and apps, and update software regularly. Institute a computer file organization strategy to make documents accessible and to determine what can be dumped.
  5. DATA DISPOSAL: Securely dispose of old files, papers and electronics that are no longer needed. Never put confidential information into open recycling or garbage bins. Partner with a document destruction expert that has a secure chain of custody including locked consoles for documents, paper shredding, and hard drive destruction. Securely destroy hard drives and mobile phones as well as external hard drives and USBs, tape drives, embedded flash memory, wearable technology, networking equipment, copiers, and printer hard drives when no longer needed.
  6. POLICY: To keep the workplace tidy after you clean your office, implement policies that standardize security and clutter-free space such as a Clean Desk Policy. Every time an employee leaves their desk, mobile devices should be locked away or taken. Ensure that desks and surrounding workspaces are clear of papers and clutter.

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To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.