Posted on

Paperwork Problems And How To Solve Them

Over the past few decades many people have been shouting about the imminent arrival of the paperless office. But even the explosion of new Internet technologies which allow users to share, read and edit documents, we are still clinging to the notion that businesses need paper to function. No matter which way you spin it, paperwork is a pain, and its very existence brings about all sorts of problems. Luckily, there are some ways to ditch the paper in your business and keep it out of your way for good.

  

Filing

 

I’ve got to be honest, I think I only know 1 person who genuinely enjoys filing.  This breed of person is very rare, and also tends to take enjoyment from deep-cleaning bathrooms. For the rest of us, filing is one of those tasks we dread, and really wished didn’t exist at all. The good news is in modern times, it’s becoming less necessary to have physical filing cabinets in offices anymore. Even for business who deal with a lot of contracts (which of course need to be signed and kept), these things can now be kept and even created in digital format easily. This doesn’t just mean that you get a corner of your office back, but you lose all of that time wasted looking for files, putting things in the right places and doing the annual data cleanse. Now all of those things can be done with a few mouse clicks at the computer which is much better, isn’t it?

  

Errors

 

People make mistakes. We might like to think we are perfect, but the reality is everyone is going to make a mistake or two in their working lives. Invoices can get lost on deliveries, important post can be put into the ‘bin’ pile instead of the ‘client’ pile, and reports can be accidentally deleted from the system. Missing paper, data entry errors or inaccessible data can cause a whole host of problems, especially when the end of year tax returns roll around. Sadly most of these mistakes come from human error during the processing or handling of paperwork, and the results can range from a minor inconvenience to large abilities in cases of disputed bills or inspections.  Removing the human element from your data processing means that errors will disappear. What’s more you can programme your automation software to your specific company guidelines and policies, so you know that all of your paperwork is completely compliant. This is especially useful for accounting and compliance departments who need to adhere to a complex set of rules regarding paperwork.

 

Data Protection

 

Having a suitable and robust data protection policy in place is critical for any business. A single data breach resulting in the theft of confidential customer data could cost your business dearly in terms of money, security and reputation, not to mention the possibility of criminal charges if the theft was aided by someone inside. Paperwork is still one of the bigger causes of data breach in business, despite what the all of the recent reports of cybercrime news would have you believe. So in order to comply with the Data Protection Act and make sure your business stays safe, you should be regularly shredding used documentation and disposing of it safely.

 

 

Of course – what are you supposed to do with all of the paperwork that is already in your business when you switch to these fancy new digital systems? At first, you will simply have doubled up your paperwork, so you will need to employ the services of a shredding company (like us) to destroy all of it for you, securely. This is a very simple process that simply requires you to click here, and if you want you can even watch the documents be shredded! Moving forward, businesses will always produce paper in some form, whether that’s invoices coming in or board meeting notes. Our monthly shredding plans mean you never have to worry about getting rid of paperwork again – just wait for us to arrive for a monthly pick up. To find out more about our shredding services and how we can cure your paperwork pains, get in touch with us today.

Posted on

Shredding Scandals!

Let’s be honest, shredding can be a pretty dry subject. Heck, when we’re dealing with paper, dampness is generally considered a bad thing! Bad jokes aside, we understand that there’s only so much you want to hear about the mechanics of shredding paper. So this month, we wanted to take a break from the gears of it all, and instead look at some famous scandals that involved the humble shredder.

 

Enron

Let’s start with an oldie but a goodie – the Enron scandal. Now, Enron got into some trouble back in 2001, achieving the title of ‘biggest audit failure’ and eventually ‘biggest bankruptcy reorganisation’ in American history. But as if their financial issues and debts weren’t enough, in 2002 the FBI raided the failed energy giants headquarters after a tip that employees were undertaking in a mass data destruction session. FBI agents found employees at Enron HQ shredding thousands of sensitive documents in a bid to hide evidence, and further investigation revealed they had been doing this for several months already. To give you some idea, the documents they were shredding included details of the off-balance sheet partnerships which Enron set up to conceal the true level of its debts, which stand at anywhere between $30bn and $40bn. Unsurprisingly, this added fuel to the fire and more charges to the list for Enron’s owners, and restraining orders had to be filed to prevent any more shredding taking place.

 

The Iran-Contra Affair

This was another fairly high profile case from The States that involved people desperately trying to shred incriminating documents. The Iran-Contra affair happened during the Reagan administration, when it was discovered that senior administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran (which was subject to an arms embargo at the time). Obviously, not great from any angle. What started as an effort to free 7 American hostages being held in Lebanon spiralled into a nightmare for the 12 senior administration officials who were charged over the ongoing incident. Two of those, Fawn Hall and Johnathan Scott Royster, were responsible for the destruction of the incriminating documents, and were given immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony.

 

Metropolitan Police

Let’s end with the most recent one. Earlier this month, an inquiry was started into allegations that the Metropolitan Police have been shredding documentation they weren’t supposed to. This was after a public inquiry into undercover policing was announced in March 2015, and officers have since been accused of destroying documentation that related directly to this active inquiry. It’s a bit of a web of inquiries to be honest! What is clear is that the IPCC stated that the documents should not have been destroyed ‘without express permission.’ In fact, their spokeswoman Sarah Green added that “While the evidence indicates that a large number of documents were shredded over a period of days in May 2014, the difficult task ahead for our investigators is to determine what the documentation was, why it was destroyed, whether electronic copies were kept and who may have ordered its destruction.” At the moment this strange double enquiry is still in its early days, so we don’t really know what will be uncovered yet, besides a pile of shredded paper!

 

At Hungry Shredder, we won’t help you destroy data as part of a scandal, but we will help you keep on top of things so that you don’t end up on the receiving end of a law suit under the Data Protection Act. Our shredding services offer both delivery of sacks and the option of collecting from you, so you don’t have any excuse not to shred that sensitive documentation. For more information, get in touch with us today.

Posted on

Beware The Human Being – How Lack Of Procedures Can Risk Your Business

Over the past few years there has been a lot of focus out there on digital security. Shoring up your defences so that the increasing waves of cyber hackers can’t get in and steal your data from under your nose. While this is an incredibly important thing to do (with smaller and medium sized businesses being targeted most in the last 12 months), you should never forget the primary threat to your business security will remain the same. It has been since businesses first began and will continue to be long into the future. And that threat is people.

 

Why People Are A Risk To Your Business

 

It might seem odd, saying that people are the biggest threat to your business, but the simple fact is that human beings are prone to making mistakes. They forget instructions, fall for phishing scams and intentionally damage or spread data to cause havoc. In terms of IT issues, 37% of breaches and internal issues are the result of user error, with phishing and malware coming a close second at 25%. In 2015, 102 of the data breach incidents in London were due to loss or theft of paperwork. People are ultimately fallible, which makes it easy for thieves to exploit them. Catch an employee after they’ve had a fight with someone they care about or when they are over tired, and they can make all sorts of mistakes with your data. But, if you put processes in place and educate your employees to follow them, you will likely see a reduction in the number of incidents.

 

How Can I Protect My Data?

 

Now, we’re not saying you should fire everyone in your business – that would be madness! But what you do need to do is take the time to implement some policies and procedures that help people understand what they need to do. This is particularly important when it comes to confidential paperwork, because it’s not always easy for people to figure out what counts as confidential and what doesn’t. This is often why people throw away sensitive data – because they didn’t realise it was sensitive. So, to make sure your office stays secure, you should:

 

Write Your Policies. Before you start jumping up and down on people, take the time to figure out what policies you need in place to protect your critical data. Rules around storage and destruction should be at the top of that list. How will your documents be stored securely while they are with you, and when they are finished with, how will they be disposed of safely? Make sure you write all of these policies down and they don’t just stay in your head!

 

Train Your Employees. Make sure all of your employees are aware of these policies. Hold a training session and ensure everyone signs a training document, pledging to uphold these rules. But don’t just tell them what the rules are and leave it at that – go into detail and explain why the rules are being put into place and how following them will help.

  

Publish Guidelines. Once you have trained everyone on the new policies, publish some quick-access guidelines in prominent places, such as by printers or over bins. Include a checklist of things that would be on a confidential document, such as names, addresses, bank details, invoice numbers etc. By giving your employees a guide of what they can and can’t throw away, you reduce the risk of confidential data ending up in landfill.

 

Hire Partners. Now that you have a procedure in place, you need a way to manage it. For documents that don’t contain sensitive information, they simply end up in your normal recycling or bin. But for confidential documents, you need a plan to deal with them. Hire a local shredding company to take care of your documentation in a safe and secure manner. Secure shredding companies like us specialise in the collection and destruction of confidential paperwork from your office, so all you need to do is book a collection slot. We will provide you with shredding sacks, collect your paperwork and take it to our facility to be shredded. Once that is completed you will be given a certificate of destruction as proof that you have upheld your obligations under the Data Protection Act.

 

For more information about secure shredding, or to book your own regular collection slot, get in touch with us today and one of our experts will get back to you.

 

Posted on

Understanding Business Identity Theft

Think that identity theft only hits individuals or the elderly? Think again. Thieves and criminals are targeting small and medium sized businesses all across the UK and the USA for quick and easy profit, with devastating consequences. In an age where digital information is freely available it’s a serious risk, so you need to know the facts before your business becomes the next victim of corporate identity theft.

What Is Corporate Identity Theft?

Identity crimes have evolved far beyond a crime of opportunity by petty thieves and drug users – it’s now a preferred criminal activity turned big business with more profit rolling in every year. Criminals ranging from street gangs to drug cartel to organised crime syndicates have actively embraced identity theft and cybercrime as key money making enterprises with low risk. Through this, thieves have learnt that business identities can also be stolen, and unsuspecting businesses can be very easy targets. But before we explain how corporate identity theft works, we need to explain exactly what it is. You see, just because a business has suffered a data breach doesn’t mean that their identity has been stolen. Data breach doesn’t automatically mean identity theft. Instead, like it’s consumer counterpart, corporate identity theft involves actual impersonation of the business itself. In fact, the term ‘corporate identity theft’ is misleading in itself, as corporations aren’t the only business entities victimised by this crime. Any type of business or organisation of any size or legal structure, from sole proprietorships, to partnerships and limited companies, government bodies, schools, trusts and non-profits can all be targeted by identity thieves.

Why Businesses Are Good Targets

When it comes to identity theft, criminals are faced with 2 avenues – individual or corporate. For most, the individual route is left to small time thieves, while the more professional, ambitious breed will go after corporates, non-profits and businesses.  But to understand why businesses make good targets for identity theft, you need to look at the gains and profits from the criminals point of view. For example, businesses tend to have:

Bigger Bank Accounts 

Business customers routinely maintain much larger bank account balances than your average consumer, and for good reason. Cash flow is a huge issue for all businesses, so the smart business owner will build up a buffer of cash in reserve. The average small business account may have between £5000 and £10,000 in it at any one time, with larger businesses sometimes keeping tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds in their accounts. When you compare this to the average consumer account of around £200-£500, it’s not hard to see why businesses make an attractive target. 

Flexible Payment Terms 

Because of their larger purchases, many businesses enjoy flexible payment terms or credit, allowing them to order and obtain goods or services before paying for them at a later date. For a criminal, this means they can make large purchases without paying a thing and disappear before the payment is due. They can also avoid the risk of early detection that comes with using a stolen credit card of cheque when the order is placed. 

Minimal Security

Small businesses are especially vulnerable, as many don’t have the most robust security in place. If they don’t have their own IT department, or they are overrun with tasks, keeping up the security needed can be challenging, and that’s what criminals are counting on. Targeted attacks exploit holes in the software smaller businesses use, while intercepting or stealing information in letters can give them all the information they need to start imitating your business.

Easily Available Information

The scary thing is, business identity thieves don’t even need to steal much of the information they need to impersonate a business, because so much of it is freely available now. Just go to Companies House and see how much information is freely available about your business thanks to the information age. All a criminal has to do is steal a few pieces of specific, targeted information and they’re away.

 

One of the ways corporate identity thieves get those last pieces of information is by accessing documents that have been thrown away or improperly stored. Bank details, for example, that have been put in the wrong place present an enormous risk, which is why it’s so important to stay on top of your secure document disposal. If you need help handing your shredding get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

Posted on

Taking Shredding Digital – Shredding Hard Drives

We talk a lot about shredding confidential documents and other paperwork, but do you ever think about the other things in your life that contain sensitive information? In the modern age we tend to keep a lot of information on our phones and computers, but give little thought to what data stays on the device after a ‘system reset’. Amazingly, it’s much more data than you would think. That’s why you should always remove your hard drive before you sell your old computer or laptop.

Why Shred Your Old Hard Drives?

Shredding a hard drive is the only way to ensure that the data on it can never be retrieved (short of investing in a very large magnet). Many people think that if you format your hard drive, you are erasing the data from it. This isn’t the case – as this only clears the re-writable areas. There are still many areas of your hard drive that formatting doesn’t cover. To illustrate this, a group of students from MIT bought 258 used, formatted hard drives on eBay. Using some basic, freely available forensic software they were able to recover over 5000 credit and debit card numbers, medical records, social security numbers and other highly sensitive information. Running a magnet over your hard drive won’t wipe it clean either, as you would need a magnet with a pull force of at least 450 pounds to have any effect. But with a pull force like that you would only be successful because you’d have destroyed everything else in the room as well.

How Does It Work?

hard drive shreddingUnfortunately, hard drives won’t go through your average office shredder! Instead you need professional grade equipment to destroy your hard drive completely. But unless you are a big office that goes through computers really quickly, you probably won’t have lots of hard drives building up just waiting to be destroyed. So instead, you will need to order a one off hard drive destruction service from your local, friendly shredding company. It’s not an expensive service, and often the shredding service will offer collection of free postage for you. Once the hard drive has been collected, it will be taken away to a secure shredding facility and destroyed. Our robust metal shredders are specifically designed to tackle tough electronics, so the actual shredding process will look something like this. Once it has been destroyed and the data rendered irretrievable, you will be sent a certificate of destruction and video evidence of destruction if you requested it. The remains of the hard drive can then be picked apart and recycled into new metals and computer parts.

If you’ve been stockpiling old computers and laptops instead of getting rid of them, hard drive shredding provides the perfect solution for you. Shredding your hard drive protects your business against digital data theft in the most realistic way possible – by completely destroying the data. Computers and laptops without hard drives can still be sold on to recoup costs or make a profit, but with the knowledge that your data is safe. If you’re not sure how to remove the hard drive from your computer, check out our guide here. If you need someone to dispose of your old hard drives, or just want to find out more about our shredding solutions, get in touch with one of our team today.

Posted on

Click And Collect – Shredding Made Easy

We talk a lot about shredding on this blog, and this post is no exception! But today we wanted to introduce you to our newest service. We’re very excited about this addition to our line, as it has been in high demand for quite some time. Now, as well as offering a drop off service for your document shredding, we can also offer a courier collection service, so you don’t even need to leave your house or office to make sure your documents are being shredded safely.

What Is Courier Collection Shredding?

Secure and confidential disposal of paperwork isn’t always easy for small businesses, and it’s not much better for the average home owner either. Small businesses usually have confidential documents they are legally required to dispose of safely, while security conscious home shredders are left with a pile of shredded paper and nothing to do with it! Dealing with this can become pretty expensive if you need to dispose of it yourself, and many companies will only offer large disposal bins, which could take months to fill.

Our new courier service is the ‘Click And Collect’ of shredding services – except it’s us doing the collecting! Instead of having to wait for a shredding truck to visit you or taking your paper to shred yourself, you can simply order a tough, reasonably sized collections sack (or 2, or more!) and fill it up. From there simply contact our office and arrange your collection time. A dedicated UPS driver will then arrive at your home or business premises to take away your waste for shredding and disposal. We will provide you with a Certificate of Destruction as standard as legal proof that your documents have been destroyed, and we can even provide video proof of destruction for a small added fee.

Why Should I Try Courier Collection?

With many shredding services you don’t get too many options – you can either have a large shredding truck visit your premises, or you can take all of your shredding to the centre yourself.  Depending on where you are, it might not be practical to have a huge vehicle come to your premises or home. You might be on a residential road or crammed into a narrow roadway, or simply not want to disturb your neighbours. Similarly, you may not be able to take your shredding to a centre yourself. If you are a residential customer you may not be able to drive, not have time or have too much waste to fit in your car. If you are a business customer, time is money and you may end up sacrificing a member of staff for a full day to do several runs to and from a centre that might not be that close to you.

If you’re interested and would like to try out our courier collection service, we would love to help you out. We are currently offering 25% off orders for our new service, so you can try it out at a reduced price, but this is for a limited time only! Just visit the product page, select the package you would like and you’re done. If you take advantage of our introductory offer we’ll even walk you through the process and book your collections ourselves, so you can just sit back and relax. So what are you waiting for? Try out the easiest way to destroy your confidential information safely.

Posted on

Why Shred At All?

With modern life demanding so much of us, little things we should be doing often slip through the net. This could be something as simple as forgetting to do the washing up at night, or it could be something more important, like shredding our junk mail or old paperwork from the office. In fact, there are still people out there who believe that they don’t need to shred anything at all, or that they can achieve the same level of security with a pair of scissors and a black bin bag (spoiler, you can’t). But there are a few reasons why you should make shredding part of your daily routine in the office.

It’s The Law

The first and most important reason to remember to do your shredding – it’s a legal requirement. We don’t even need to talk benefits at this stage, it’s simply something you have to do. The Data Protection Act states that every business has a legal obligation to protect the confidential information of its customers and employees. As a sub clause of this act, organisations must routinely employ a data destruction service to destroy redundant confidential information, whatever format it is held in. As if that wasn’t enough, the Information Commissioner’s Office now has the power to fine your business up to £500,000 if you lose someone’s confidential information.

Time And Money 

If you’ve decided that it’s time to your monthly shred, your next step is actually doing it. This is where a lot of businesses fall down, and where our confidential document destruction services come in handy. To illustrate, let’s look at your options:

  • Give one of your employees the job of putting down their normal work and have them remove staples and paperclips from your shredding pile, sort card from paper and finally spend hours stood over the office shredder to get rid of it.
  • Make a phone call to your certified confidential shredder, who will shred all of your documents in a matter of minutes using industrial machinery.

Be honest, you picked number 2 didn’t you? That’s because it makes no sense for you to spend time and money shredding materials instead of just making a phone call. For every 8 hours your poor employee spends shredding, our industrial machines can tackle the same volume of paper in just minutes, with no need to prepare the paper by removing staples or sorting. So instead have your staff doing the job you pay them for, and leave the shredding to the professionals.

Doing Your Bit For The Planet

Of course, we couldn’t give you reasons for shredding without mentioning the environment. If you went with option 1 earlier, what does your employee do with that paper when they’re finished? Many businesses would simply throw it away with the normal rubbish. But by using a certified shredder, we can protect your business and the environment at the same time. We recycle 99% of the paper we shred, promoting reuse and cutting down the need for new products to be made. For every tonne of paper, we recycle, 7000 gallons of water is saved, between 17 and 31 trees aren’t cut down, 4000 KWh of electricity is saved and 60 pounds of airborne pollutants are prevented from being released. How’s that for saving the environment?

It’s Common Sense!

No matter what type of business you run, you will be storing confidential data of some sort. Even everyday activates like creating invoices, providing your service to confidential clients or just writing up some meeting notes can generate a huge amount of data that needs to be protected. Just think about how disastrous it would be if one of your competitors got hold of your customer lists or quotes. Or worse, if a criminal found your financial records or employee data. All it takes is one smart criminal or one disgruntled employee and your business is at risk. But if you are routinely shredding sensitive documents, you are reducing the risk of this type of loss occurring.

So if you weren’t shredding your documents before, hopefully you will be now! Not only for the legal reasons, but also because of the hidden benefits to your business that shredding can unlock. For more information about our shredding service or to book your shredding slot, get in touch today.

 

Posted on

A Guide To Going Paperless (Almost)

A long time ago, in a land not too far away, a business owner dreamed of a paperless paradise. As he surveyed his domain – a small business with 10 employees all working hard to keep everything working, he sighed. With so many stacks of paper, filing and memos being passed around, how could his dream of a clean, eco-friendly and secure office possibly come true? Well, that business owner hadn’t read our guide to going (almost) paperless. He did have one thing right though – it is pretty much impossible for a business to completely eliminate paper, but it is possible to reduce it to almost nothing with a few easy steps.

Invest In Digital Document Management

All across the country there are hundreds of thousands of filing cabinets, all sitting full of paperwork waiting to be found. Some of them will be rifled through regularly to find the relevant documents, while others will be left to gather dust in the corner of the office. The average floor space taken up by 1 filing cabinet is 7.1 square foot, so a business paying £55 per square foot in rent would need to spend £390 a month just to keep that filing cabinet. That’s the cost of physical document management. Digital document management removes not only the cost of keeping physical documents, but the frustration of having to flick through hundreds of documents just to find the one you want. Instead, it stores digital copies of every document in an online central repository, where they can be accessed at any time with the click of a button. You can set up tags for each document to file them by category, file type, client, any system you want. These systems are simple to use and manage while completely eliminating the need for physical document storage.

 

Convert Paper Documents

The decision you now face is whether to use your document management system going forward, or whether to apply it retroactively to all of your existing paperwork. We strongly recommend doing the latter, as this will allow you to have everything in one place as opposed to split between filing cabinets and servers. It also means you can get rid of the filing cabinet and encourage employees to stop generating paper. If you choose to move your current paper documents into a document management system, you will need to convert them to digital format. This will take some time in front of a scanner, but does provide a good opportunity to examine what documentation you need to keep and what can be discarded. Once you have scanned the documents, the system can then extract the relevant information and store them for you, making it a much simpler process.

 

Dispose Of Paperwork Securely

Once all of your documents have been scanned and categorised, you will be left with a rather large pile of unnecessary paperwork.  Some of this will contain sensitive or confidential information about employees, clients or suppliers, so it’s important it’s disposed of correctly. Rather than sending someone to sit hunched over the shredder for hours, hire an external shredding company to collect the paperwork and dispose of it securely.  By using our services, you are saving yourself a lot of time and money while ensuring you stay compliant with the laws on data protection. One of our state of the art shredding vehicles can come directly to your office so you can witness your documentation being destroyed without leaving your premises. You will be presented with a certificate of destruction to prove your adherence to legislation, and your shredded paper will be taken away for recycling into new paper products – so it’s environmentally friendly as well!

 

Implement A Clean Desk Policy 

Now that you have a paper-free office, you need to work on keeping it that way. Remaining paperless for a few days is relatively easy, but keeping up with a paperless office long term can be a difficult task. Clean desk policies are a great way of ensuring that no unnecessary paperwork is created. Clean desk policies include guidelines on paper use, specifically that no paperwork should be left on desks, no documents should be printed unless absolutely necessary and any paperwork should be destroyed or placed within a secure shredding cabinet as soon as it has been used. Thanks to advances in digital signature software and other programmes, there is now very little need for any document to be printed off in the average office. Any documents that are printed in house or delivered in paper format can be used, scanned into the system and then placed into a secure shredding console to await a routine shredding visit for maximum security.

 

Encourage Use Of Digital Collaboration Tools 

In your journey from document overload into a paperless paradise, it’s important to not just swap a physical mess for a digital one. Management of your digital archives is important, so make sure you brief everyone within your business on the system, how it works and what you expect them to use it for. Encourage the use of digital tools like Evernote, Trello and Wrike for to-do lists, collaboration on projects and storage of miscellaneous documentation, rather than using post-it notes or notebooks. Instead of printing documents to work on as a group, suggest collaboration tools such as Google or Office 365 to allow multiple people to work on one document at once.

Depending on what type of business you run, you may not be able to avoid paper coming into your office, or being generated there. But what you can do is ensure that no paperwork is kept longer than necessary and that everything is shredded once it has been digitised, saving you space and money. For more information on how we can help you go and stay paperless, or to book your own paperwork in to be shredded, get in touch with us today.

Posted on

Is Your Data Protected?

For any business, data protection is an important thing to think about. Even if you only deal with a small amount of confidential data, you must have suitable and robust policies in place for protecting that data and the data of your employees and business. Small businesses are now becoming a more popular target for data thieves, and even a small breach could cost your business dearly – not just in money but also in security, reputation, and even criminal charges. So do you know the basic do’s and don’ts of good data protection?

Do: 

Know The Risks 

One key things to remember is that not all businesses are the same, so each one will face its own set of risks to confidential data. Perform an audit to determine what the weak points are in your business, and how the data protection laws affect your policies. You may find you need to put in more digital security, or invest in on-site security for physical paperwork. You may need to implement document handling procedures to ensure no confidential data is put at risk.

Educate Your Employees 

Even with data theft from businesses at an all-time high, the majority of data breaches within businesses are still the result of basic human error or misunderstanding. When you first hire new employees, make sure they are educated in data protection and trained in how to keep confidential data secure. Hold periodic retraining for existing employees to go over new rules and remind them to be diligent. Ensure that all employees are aware of the consequences of breaching data protection laws and know how to stay compliant.

Appoint A Responsible Officer

Once you have created the policies and put them in place, you will need to appoint a member of staff to take responsibility for ensuring the policies are followed. Make sure this person is capable and trusted, and inform all staff that they are in charge of this particular area. Your responsible officer should be in charge of ensuring confidential data is protected and handled correctly at every stage of its life, from creation to destruction.

Encrypt Digital Data 

Digital data security should be one of your top priorities for data protection. To keep your files safe, you should not only have a secure system and workflow in place, but all digital files stored externally or on cloud servers should be encrypted for extra security. Without the encryption in place anyone who intercepts the data would be able to read, duplicate or edit it, compromising business and client security.

Shred Documents 

While digital security is a top priority, you should not forget about physical security. Once a document has served its purpose within your business it is important that is destroyed properly and securely. Employing a professional service like Hungry Shredder will ensure your documents are destroyed safely, and you will be provided with a certificate of destruction to prove your compliance.

Don’t: 

 

Leave Documents Unattended

Never leave a document containing sensitive information sitting around on your desk unattended, even if you’re just popping to the toilet or making a round of coffee. All workplace computer terminals should be password protected and locked when employees aren’t at their desks, to ensure no one can access the system unauthorised. Once it’s been used, all paperwork, emails, and printouts should be stored in a locked container to await shredding.

Use Information For Anything But It’s Intended Purpose

The Data Protection Act not only covers how documents should be handled but how the information within them should be used. It specifically states that information collected should not be used for anything other than its stated purpose, so using confidential information for anything else could not only compromise your business, but leave you on the wrong side of the law.

Ignore Security Patching 

Many people will choose to ignore security patches or updates on their computer for fear that the updates will be full of bugs or change features they enjoy. But patches are more than just annoying popup boxes – they fix holes or weak points in the software, making it safer. Security patches will help protect your machine against infection from malware and shore up loopholes or issues that have been discovered – including serious breach points that hackers have discovered.

Forget About Remote Workers

Remote and flexible working is becoming a more popular option for workers in the UK, but it comes with its own set of risks. You cannot guarantee that remote workers are using a secure internet connection, or that they are using the right programmes and technologies to keep your business data safe. You can never know where a stray bit of paper will be left, or who will be coming into their home or office unsupervised. There is no way to eradicate this doubt, but it is something you should bear in mind when creating your remote working policies so that you can take steps to mitigate risk.

For more data protection tips, or to find out how a using a professional shredding service can help you stay compliant, get in touch with one of our experts for a free consultation and advice.

Posted on

Clean Desks Make Happier Offices

We all remember how well we reacted to being told to clean our rooms when we were young. When clean desk policies first came into fashion, many people felt a lot like they had been reduced to 7 year olds arguing with their parents again, but despite the initial resistance, clean desk polices are now becoming the norm. A clean desk policy is better known as a corporate directive that specifies how employees should leave their working space when they leave the office, with most businesses requiring all employees to clear their desks of paperwork at the end of each day. This doesn’t just cover paper, but post-it notes, business cards, rubbish and removable media like USB sticks. This isn’t just being done because your boss is a neat freak. Many businesses follow these policies in order to increase security and reduce the risk of confidential data loss or theft, but they often fail to realise the hidden benefit of clean desks – a boost in employee morale, mood and productivity.

Productivity

Keeping your desk clean and clear is key to being able to get your work done. While there are some arguments that messy desks force people to think more creatively about solving problems, this does not translate into productivity for every day work. Despite the excuses some might give, different piles are not organisation, and often they could not find a specific document quickly if you asked them. That’s because in reality you are never going to work at your best when you have to search through piles of things to find that one document due in the next hour. In order to foster productivity your workspace should work for you, not hinder you. Think of your desk as a car – everything you need most immediately (steering wheel, gearstick, indicators, pedals) should be within arm’s length, and the rest hidden away for when you might need it. For most people these essential items are their computer, mouse and keyboard, telephone, notepad and calendar. Everything else should have a home elsewhere – for example in a filing drawer under your desk or organised into a box or folder. This leaves the desk space clear and gives you room to work and to think creatively. Your performance coincides directly with your workspace – when it’s organised and precise you have the mind set and motivation to work efficiently.

 

Teamwork

The state of your dedicated workspace is a lot like your physical appearance – it says a lot about you. For example did you know that out of 1000 office based workers, 57% admit to judging their co-workers by how clean or dirty their workspace is? Nearly half of that same group said they had been ‘appalled’ by how messy a colleague’s office and desk was, and chalked the reason up to bad habits, negative attitude towards work or pure laziness. With so many open plan and flexible offices today, more people can see into your workspace, and despite their best efforts, they will judge you on it. This can be worse when there is a visitor to your office, as it gives a negative impression of your company as well as you individually. Employees with messy, dirty desks tend to find themselves getting isolated from the rest of their team and experiencing friction in the office, seemingly because of nothing. But the truth is it’s the desk. Implementing a clean desk policy for all employees (where ‘clean’ means clear of papers and clean of dirt) will help office workers bond without these subconscious judgements invading working relationships.

Morale

People do their best work when they feel happy, comfortable and safe. The problem is that when an office cuts corners with cleaning and organisation to say, reduce costs or foster a relaxed, creative environment, it can often have negative effects on employee morale. A survey done into the effects of office cleanliness and tidiness on morale revealed that in offices where staff were allowed messy desks and corners were cut on cleaning:

  • 72% said their surroundings made them less productive
  • 46% said they took longer lunch breaks and spent less time in the office
  • 25% said they took sick leave because the surroundings depressed them

The simple fact that the work environment was not cared for by their peers or their management severely impacted the enjoyment these employees took in their work and instead had a negative impact on attendance, productivity and morale. However, in offices that were well maintained and a clean desk policy was in effect for employees:

  • 65% said they looked forward to coming into a clean office in the morning
  • 49% thought they worked harder as a result of a better organised office
  • 26% said they took shorter breaks or spent lunch breaks at their desk

In the grand scheme of things, ensuring your desk is clean, tidy and free of paperwork at the end of each day is a small price to pay for the benefits it gives. In our next post we will tell you how to implement a clean desk policy in your office, including how to ditch the paperwork safely and make sure everyone gets on board. In the meantime for more information about disposing of those old documents, get in touch.