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Prospective MPs pressed to prioritise information security post-election as third of SMEs say Government commitment needs improvement

LONDON, 21 April, 2015 – Parliamentary hopefuls need to put information security at the top of the agenda if they are elected in May as one in three small and medium sized business owners say that the Government’s commitment to information security needs improvement , the UK’s leading information destruction expert has urged.

Despite the average data breach costing £2.17 million, including £0.9 million in loss of business nearly a third of UK SMEs (30%) either have no existing protocol for the storing or disposing of confidential data, or do not even know if one exists.

Shred-it is calling on the new Government to give greater powers to the office responsible for enforcing the Data Protection Act – the ICO – so that all organisations in the UK put the sensitive information of their customers, clients and employees to the forefront of doing business. 

Robert Guice, Executive Vice President, Shred-it EMEA, said:  “Information security should be at the top of every business owner’s priority list. The repercussions from a data breach can be devastating from a reputational, financial and legal perspective. But small business owners need help and it’s clear that the Government could be doing more – not only to educate but also to enforce the law.”

He added, “Shred-it urges all this year’s candidates to make sure that the next five years of Parliament does its utmost to ensure that information security becomes an important part of the business conversation.”

Prospective MPs urged to take care of sensitive information

Guice also urged all Parliamentary hopefuls to keep a close eye on their confidential documents or risk the costly fines and damaged reputations of some of their predecessors.

Last year, fifty-two phones were misplaced in the House of Commons, alongside six laptops and ten iPads , potentially exposing sensitive data such as personal details, meeting notes or payroll information.  The next generation of  MPs must not follow in the footsteps of some of their predecessors by accidently leaving confidential information on public transport, or in restaurants and recycling bins.

Top Five Tips on information security for parliamentarians and public servants

  • Do not commute with your head in the clouds: Leaving behind your laptop or files while travelling is a potential risk for MPs commuting to and from Westminster and when on the campaign trail. In 2008, a senior intelligence officer left confidential documents on the train. To avoid this mistake, first and foremost keep an eye on your belongings – and if the worst should happen, make sure you have security measures in place, such as protecting your laptop and other mobile devices with a password.  Think about bringing any sensitive documents back to your workplace where they can be securely stored  or shredded.
  • Shred all confidential documents:  If you think that throwing your memos and meeting notes in the recycling bin, or filing those campaign drafts in a forgotten cabinet will keep them safe – think again. To avoid a dangerous data breach, make sure you shred or securely dispose of no longer needed paperwork in line with your organisation’s data retention policies.
  • Bought a new laptop? Think twice before you throw your old one away:  It’s not just paperwork that you need to be cautious about. Selling your old laptop before safely destroying the hard drive, like one MP did, could end up with confidential information being leaked to the general public.
  • Active on Twitter or Facebook? Beware of social media slip-ups! Make sure that the content of your post does not contain confidential or embarrassing information. Leaking results of postal votes via Twitter like one MP did, certainly did not work to her advantage. Not only was the message retweeted 5,835 times, but she could have also faced £5,000 fine or 6 months of imprisonment. Instead, it ended with a police caution.
  • Implement a clean desk policy: It’s easy to lose track of confidential documents if they are left sprawled across a cluttered desk. Keep a clean desk at all times to prevent paper documents falling victim to snoopers and fraudsters. Being left out in the open, they could be easily accessed by other employees or external staff.

For further information contact:

Sophie Longley
Weber Shandwick
(0)20 7067 0687

Notes to Editors:

Shred-it’s 2014 Security Tracker Infographic

About Shred-it
Shred-it is a world-leading information security company providing information destruction services that ensure the security and integrity of our clients' private information. The company operates in 170 markets throughout 18 countries worldwide, servicing more than 300,000 global, national and local businesses. For more information, please visit www.shredit.co.uk.

Shred-it has branches in the following UK and Ireland locations: Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Chippenham, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds, Livingston, London – Brentford, London - Stratford, London – Canning Town, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Preston, Swindon and Warrington.

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