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?
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.
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.
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.