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Grow Your Business Security

4 Ways Companies Compromise Customers' Private Data

hacker . / Credit: Dreamstime.com

It doesn’t take a sophisticated hacker to steal your identity. In fact, a new poll finds there is a good chance the theft of consumers' personal data is the result of careless workplace habits on the part of employees. That’s because, according to the Fellowes' Workplace Data Security Report, 81 percent of employees have access to documents with sensitive information, but only 62 percent of workers have been trained in data-security policies.

That gap means there is a large percentage of workers who are unaware of their vulnerability to hackers. According to the poll, the four most common ways that identity theft occurs is through:

  • Not maintaining an up-to-date firewall (60 percent)
  • Not sending mail through a secure mailbox (44 percent)
  • Leaving computers unlocked when away from desk (26 percent)
  • Throwing sensitive information in the trash (15 percent)

 "Whether electronic or in paper form, confidential information in the workplace is a hot item for theft and the methods employed by criminals to obtain this information are constantly evolving," said John Sileo, national identity theft expert. "With smart prevention measures, you can help your company avoid a costly breach that can lead to personal consequences — like identity theft."

[Businesses in Denial When it Comes to IT Security Breaches]

Luckily, these simple actions that can lead to identity theft have simple solutions.  If you own a company, here's what Sileo recommends you do to protect yourself and your customers from a potential security breach:

  1. "Lock your office when you leave for the day to prevent anyone accessing it after-hours."
  2. "Ensure your computer is locked with a secure password containing a unique combination of letters and numbers."
  3. "Ask your information technology department to check that your firewall is secure and up-to-date."
  4. "Don't leave paper documents on your desk or in common printing areas and store important documents in a locked filing cabinet."
  5. "Shred no-longer-needed documents."

  The information in this survey was based on the responses of 1,000 people.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.