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5 Sources of Security Breaches in Your Workplace

Posted October 28, 2014 by Jenny Green

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With the latest technology at our disposal, information is much easier - and quicker - to get hold of as well as being more accessible to more people across the world. Unfortunately, this also means that the risk of information falling into the wrong hands is a real and constant threat.

The Shred-it Information Security Tracker, an independent survey commissioned and carried out across the UK and North America, indicates that while a large majority of businesses recognise the risk of security breaches within their organisations, they are not regularly reviewing security procedures intended to safeguard their business’ confidential information. In fact, many businesses have never conducted an information security risk assessment and have no protocols in place for securing their data.

How can an organisation really know where it needs to make improvements to avoid potentially damaging information security breaches if it’s not aware of the dangers? When it comes to preventing security breaches this lack of awareness is a huge problem, especially when there is a mistaken belief that loss of data will not impact the business.

In real terms, a security breach can mean financial damage, loss of reputation, diminished trust in the organisation, and loss of further business.  Fraud, identity theft and corporate espionage can take months, if not years, to resolve in which time an organisation suffers irreparable damage.

Identifying the areas of vulnerability within an organisation is an important first step towards making your business more secure.

Here are five of the most common sources of security breaches in the workplace:

  1. Human error – the number one cause of security breaches
  2. Lost or stolen data and/or hardware (in and out of the office)
  3. Improper disposal of confidential documents (unsecure recycling bins, documents left unattended on desks or at photocopiers)
  4. Lack of staff training on the information security procedures in place, or inappropriate access to confidential information allowing unauthorised use of data
  5. Equipment or technical procedural failure

A clean desk policy in the office can help reduce the risks of an unintentional security breach, and as a minimum, you should never leave confidential documents unattended on your desk (or files open on your computer), at the photocopier or fax machines. You should also ensure confidential documents aren’t ending up in an unsecured recycling bin.

The risk of a security breach outside the workplace shouldn’t be ignored either. All employees should be made aware of their organisation’s mobile security policy to ensure they know how to handle confidential data and documents when they are on the move (in cars, trains, planes, hotels etc.)

Don’t let your workplace become a victim of a security breach! Be aware of both the internal and external threats; keep your information security protocols up-to-date and always have a security breach management plan in place.  After all, statistics show that it’s highly likely most businesses will suffer a breach at some point in time so it pays to be prepared.

This short video covers seven simple actions you can take to safeguard your business’ confidential information and to minimise the risk of a security breach.

Join the conversation on information security with Shred-it on Twitter @Shredit_UK.


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