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Five Simple Information Security Tips That Data Thieves Don’t Want You to Know

Posted May 02, 2016 by Lynn Brown

For many small business owners, an information security breach is the last thing on their mind - until it happens. And, when it does happen it can cost the business upwards of $217 for each lost or stolen record[1] which is often more than a small business can absorb. For a small business, one data breach can not only affect their bottom line but destroy their reputation and customer confidence.

There are five easy-to-implement data protection solutions that all small businesses can do today to protect their customers, their reputation and their people against information breaches:

  1. Implement a Shred-it All Policy

Shred-it All policies ensure all paper documents are shredded before being recycled or disposed. The Shred-it All policy removes any uncertainty around whether documents are confidential and require shedding. This simple step is one of the easiest ways to avoid human error including mishandling of confidential documents and files. In addition, all shredded paper is recycled, adding an environmental benefit to a security solution for businesses. Overall, it leaves little to be decided around the type of information that should not be deposited in recycling bins and waste paper baskets.

  1. Encrypt all electronic devices

With an increasingly mobile workplace, people can access the information they need remotely, which means company information may be exposed to greater security vulnerabilities. Encrypting all electronic devices is an important first step in securing information. All electronic devices used by employees should be encrypted to protect confidential company information regardless of whether employees use their own devices or devices provided through the company. In the event that electronic devices are lost or stolen, encryption will protect the information stored on the device and mitigate any compromising activity.

  1. Institute a Clean-desk policy

A clean-desk policy encourages employees to clear their desks and lock documents in a filing cabinet or storage unit when they step away from their workstation for an extended period and at the end of each work day. This includes documents, files, notes, business cards, and removable digital media like memory sticks. Unattended and untidy work stations pose a greater risk as loose information is an easy target for theft. A clean-desk policy ensures that all confidential data is locked in a secure area.  

  1. Protect Printing Stations

Implement a ‘best practices’ standard for printing confidential information. Encourage employees and staff to not leave documents unattended at a shared printing station. To strengthen security around printing stations, consider using passwords for printing jobs.

  1. Designate a Security Ambassador

According to the 2016 Shred-it Security Tracker 40% of small business owners report having no employee directly responsible for managing data security. While it is important to have senior management and leadership play a vital role in mitigating data breaches, engaging employees from all levels and cross-departments helps strengthen an organization’s focus and commitment on information security. 

There can be risks all around your office. Make sure you're aware of where you may be vulnerable 

[1] Ponemon 2015 Cost of a Data Breach Study: United States Page 1

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