Why do we need to keep our personal and business information secure?
8th June 2017
... Comments

Q. Why do we need to keep our information secure?

A. If you are an Individual, there were 172,919 victims of IDENTITY FRAUD in the UK in 2016 compared with 140,00 in 2015, the highest number ever reported.. A small percentage of cases involved fictitious identities but most fraudsters assumed the identity of a real person after accessing their name, date of birth, address and bank details, that’s all, the frauds are largely carried out by accessing documentation most often, mail or other documents that have been thrown out. This can result in access to your bank, malicious use of your computer, purchases made in your name and destruction of your credit rating and later prosecutions for goods ordered in your name. So some ‘TopTips’ on how to protect yourself might be useful

Or;

If you are a Company, you have a clear responsibility to your clients, customers, subscribers, followers or however you would like to categorise them, to ensure their data is held securely, recent online data breaches have led to massive costs for companies including, but not limited to: Wonga 245k customers compromised, Tesco, 20k customer’s accounts stolen from, SAGE accounting, 280k customers details stolen, Kiddicare’s 800k customers details accessed, TalkTalk 157k customer’s accounts breached and Moonpig’s 3 million client account details exposed to data breach, thanks for that all for the price of a £3 birthday card. This will result in loss of customers, insurance claims, reputational damage, taking your business offline with all the attendant costs from loss of business.

Companies have also had major losses due to inadvertent disposal of documents, unauthorised access to their premises or storage sites, data rich documents getting into the general waste disposal process where they have been found, in vehicles, contractor’s premises, waste and landfill disposal sites.

Here are a few of our simple ‘TopTips’ to keep physical records secure,

For Householders:

  • Think about where your mail is delivered. If this is your own home there is no problem, but if you live in a flat or other building with multiple occupancy, make sure the postal service can deliver it into a locked post box or similar container.
  • Never put your documents, records or old mail into your waste bin or recycling bin without ensuring that you have securely shredded it yourself
  • Make sure that if you move, that you do not leave old documents in sheds, attics, or other storage areas in the old property, or that moving companies or house clearance contractors take away old furniture or storage containers, in which there might be old documentation.
  • Don’t give house clearance companies ‘carte blanche’ to clear relative’s former homes, take personal; responsibility to ensure that any family documents are properly disposed of
  • TopTips recommended if you are on your own, disabled or have people coming into your home such as cleaners, care assistants or other contractors coming to do a job, do not leave any documents around where they can be read, make sure any documents are securely locked away from prying eyes.
  • Primary documents: shred everything that comes in the mail with your name on it and you don’t need. Shred or destroy prescription bottles, CDs with data on them, and supporting tax documents, including investment statements, bank statements, cancelled checks and pay stubs, payroll slips, online good delivery statements, membership information, ANY medical records or information etc…………
  • Secondary documents: Further TopTips include financial documents like ATM receipts, credit card statements, utility bills and insurance policies –

just keep them for no longer than a couple of years. The only reason to keep these is in case you determine a mistake was made so you can go back and check. Otherwise, if you can access any of these documents online, shred them now. Homeowner-related documents should be kept as long as you own the home and maybe a year after you eventually sell it.

  • Residential rubbish is one of the most targeted ways that thieves have used to secure personal information from homeowners, in order to steal their identities and therefore their life savings. This is why paper shredding is the most effective way a homeowner can use in order to secure the financial security and safety of their essential family personal information.

If your home needs to have old documents destroyed you can ask us to collect and shred them offsite for you CHECK OUT OUR OFF SITE SHREDDING FOR HOUSEHOLDERS

For Businesses:

  • Operate a ‘Clean Desk Policy’ all employees should ensure their desks are cleared of any written information, or data on other media, at the end of the working day. That way documents are not left open and visible overnight and during holidays, when non-employees may access the office, such as cleaners and tradespeople.
  • Be vigilant when disposing of sensitive data. Shred documents containing confidential information prior to recycling. Remove all data from electronic devices—whether computers, tablets, flash drives, back up tapes and disks, smartphones or storage hardware—before disposing of them.
  • Ideally, and one of the great TopTips is to never leave documents in open sacks in the office environment, make sure you have lockable consoles or other secure containers or bins to hold any documents prior to regulated secure disposal.
  • Avoid letting employees decide what is ‘secure’ or ‘non-secure’ in terms of your businesses information, they are not data security experts and you shouldn’t expect them to make decisions over whether a particular piece of papers needs to be treated as secure, or non-secure, unless you as an employer can put hand on heart and say that you have clearly trained ALL your staff in making such assessments and that you, as an employer understand what is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998, just get all documentation destroyed securely.
  • If you store all your old documents in an archive, make sure that it has the same level of security as your own premises or even better, remember that storage premises are largely unmanned, so any determined criminal can have unencumbered access at quiet times of the week.
  • Install lockable filing cabinets to store personal or confidential information, or keep them in secure rooms with suitable additional levels of protections such as CCTV, alarms etc.
  • The more data your business has stored, the easier it is for criminals to engage in identity theft. That’s why you should only store information that’s absolutely necessary to conduct business. If you can maintain operations without storing certain types of information, it may be a smart and safe move. That way, even if other data is intercepted by a criminal, it will be considerably more difficult to use.
  • It’s critical to keep any time-sensitive printed information under lock and key to prevent unauthorized access. Some steps that can be taken include allowing only the most trusted employees to have access to these documents and storing them in a secure location, such as a safe. Once documents are no longer relevant, they should be destroyed and discarded.
More
About the Author

Mark Hadley

Member since: 17th May 2012

Has been involved with the running of Shredded Neat Limited since 2012, mainly focused on business development and environmental performance having spent 37 years in the environmental sector and run nearly...

Popular Categories