September 12, 2017

9 Common Work Habits That Put Your Confidential Information at Risk

In 2016, almost 1.4 billion data records were compromised worldwide, an 86% increase compared to the year before.

That’s over 5 million data records lost or stolen every single day, according to the 2016 Breach Level Index  

While technology is critical to protect confidential data, security experts are putting the spotlight on individuals and calling for a new mindset for data security too.

Here are 9 worrisome work habits that need to change.  

  1. Leaving the office without clearing your desk.  A cluttered workspace likely exposes confidential information. A Clean Desk Policy stipulates clear desks, screens and bulletin boards so that confidential data is locked away.  
  2. Work in public on a laptop without taking precautions. Many information thieves are opportunists. Thieves look over shoulders at screens or steal mobile devices or hard copy. On-going training should alert employees to these threats. Equip devices with privacy screens and password protection, and never leave them unattended in a public place.
  3. Toss used documents into the blue box. Recycling is important but first confidential documents must be securely destroyed to protect the information from theft. Partner with a document destruction company that has a secure chain of custody. Implement a Shred-it all Policy so that all documents are destroyed before recycling.   
  4. Print documents haphazardly. A recent IDC survey found that 35% of security breaches in offices could be traced back to an unsecured printer or multi-function device. Documents left unattended are one of the security concerns. Mandate secure pull printing so that documents will be released only to in-person user authentication.
  5. Keep old mobile devices around. Stockpiling old computers is a security risk because confidential information remains on the hard drives. Your document destruction company should provide secure hard drive and e-media destruction services too.
  6. Still using an easy-to-remember password. The Verizon 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report showed that 63% of confirmed data breaches involved weak, default or stolen passwords. The best passwords are a combination of symbols, numbers, and upper and lower case letters.
  7. Your mobile device is lost or stolen. A Kensington study showed that 25% of IT theft occurs in cars and transportation, 23% in the office, and 15% in airports and hotels. Don’t leave devices unattended. Enable the passcode on your device. Back up data on devices constantly. Use 2-factor authentication for communications.
  8. Turn a blind eye to suspicious behaviour.  A 2016 KPMG report showed that 65% of fraudsters are employed by the victim organization. A high profile culture of security with strong internal controls is critical. In the study, fraud was detected most by tip-offs and complaints (24%) and whistle-blowing reports and hotline (20%).
  9. Removing documents from the office. Removing confidential data can be as simple as downloading documents to a zip drive or sending them by email. Restrict access so that only staff that needs access to systems and data to do their jobs has it. Safeguard all devices with the latest patched operating systems and other programs. Always encrypt data in transit.

 Download Shred-it’s Information Security Office Reminders infographic for more help.  

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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.