High Awareness of Data Protection Obligations

Posted: November 02, 2009

This article was published in TechCentral.ie

Despite high profile data losses featured in the media over the last several months, 19% of Irish businesses reported in a survey that they have experience of employees leaking confidential information from inside their business. While 79% of businesses responded that they were confident in the security of their current approach to document storage, almost some 17% said that they have lost sensitive confidential information including paper and electronic files, USB keys and laptops in the past three years.

The survey was carried out by Shred-it and Filestores, DMG Group businesses, among the legal, financial and professional services sectors and the public sector in Ireland.

With evidence indicating that a serious data breach can directly impact an organisation's chances of survival, the survey indicates a strange dichotomy among Irish organisations.

The research indicated that organisations are well aware of their obligations as regards data protection, with 92% of business people claiming such. In addition, 80% of Irish companies didn't cut their spending in this area claiming they couldn't afford the risk of exposing their data and their business to potential security risks.

Despite this apparent awareness, 44% of organisations said that they should do more to protect their business from sensitive business information being stolen, 70% admit they could still do more to foster a paperless office environment, over a third admitted that (35%) their filing systems are disorganised and need updating and 47% of those surveyed admit filing takes up too much space in their office. A further 35% say valuable time is wasted trying to locate files.
The lack of implementation of tools to organise, store and control access to sensitive information, both paper and electronic, is a worrying trend as such tools are available at all price points in the market.

Over two thirds of businesses claimed they have official policies in place for the destroying and storing of sensitive information, but again nearly half (49%) have never checked how third party suppliers, such as legal and financial advisors, treat their confidential information.

"Generally, in times of economic recession when companies are faced with redundancies, there is a heightened risk of disaffected employees leaking sensitive business information. Companies will be left exposed if they do not start adhering to best practice in protecting their business information from being lost or falling into the wrong hands," said Paul Kearns, general manager, Shred-it.

"Irish businesses need to wake up to the importance of protecting their information from being lost and stolen," concluded Kearns.

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