September 01, 2015

Why You Need to Schedule an Office Clean Out Now

The fall always signifies new beginnings at school and at the office, and that makes it a good time to do an office clean out.

Here’s a guide on how you can effectively and securely perform some fall cleaning:

De-clutter.  Unnecessary clutter costs money, reduces morale, and reflects badly on an organization, said futurist Malcolm Gladwell in his best-seller, Tipping Point. Take a good look at the work space at work and home, and clear it of items that are no longer needed. Tidy the desk surface so that pens, paper clips, the phone, etc., are organized for ease of work.

Clean.  Clean the entire area, from top to bottom, paying special attention to the computer. Power it down, and wipe the keyboard and mouse with a slightly damp disinfectant wipe. Dust the hard drive, especially around the fan vents that allow heat to escape from the processor fan (dirt and dust can cause the computer to overheat). For information security in the office, implement a Clean Desk Policy.

Check the Computer.  After a summer of online games and movies, hard drives may not be running optimally. Malware problems can cause slow-downs with strange pop-ups and programs mysteriously shutting down. Be sure anti-virus and malware software is up-to-date, and scans are regularly scheduled. Enable automatic patches and updates too.

Computer Files.  According to a post at Americans waste almost 30 minutes a day – 180 hours a year – looking for misplaced items. De-clutter the computer by deleting downloads, photos, and other items that aren’t needed. Organize information and emails into folders. Consider cloud storage or a secondary drive, and be sure to schedule regular back-ups.

Paper files.  Go through paper documentation too. Confidential information that is no longer needed should be securely shredded and then recycled. In the workplace, the traditional document disposal process (simply dropping documents into an open recycling bin) has proven to be a huge security risk. What’s recommended today is partnering with a trusted document destruction company that provides locked containers, secure shredding, and a Certificate of Destruction after every shred.

New Devices.  Equip all new smart phones, laptops, tablets, and ‘phablets’ with comprehensive security including anti-virus software and password protection; also remote wipe software just in case a device is stolen. The 2014 Lookout Phone Theft in America report showed that 44% of smart phones were stolen because owners forgot them in a public setting.

Old Equipment.  Don’t throw out equipment such as old computers or laptops before removing their hard drives and having them securely destroyed. Hard drive destruction is an information security best practice. Research has shown that even when files are ‘deleted’ or ‘wiped’, they can be recovered by information thieves.

Information & Document Security.  Security awareness is critical. Encourage everyone to visit only safe websites for research, limit the amount of confidential information they post on social media, and use privacy and security settings. Teach everyone about phishing messages and other types of scams, and to use trusted apps. Organizations should have a document retention policy.

To reduce the risk of a security breach – and simplify document handling – implement a shred-all policy in the workplace and dispose of old or unwanted documents with secure paper shredding services