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Grow Your Business Security

6 Simple Steps to Protecting Company Data ... Online and Off

File / Credit: File Image via Shutterstock

With security breaches potentially costing companies millions of dollars, is increasingly important that businesses have steps in place to protect confidential data.

Despite regular news reports of businesses being impacted by data breaches, organizations from across the country continue to be plagued by the loss of sensitive information. The information destruction company Shred-it believes securely storing and destroying both printed documents and any information kept on electronic media needs to be made a priority.

Recent research from Shred-it revealed that businesses of all sizes lack awareness about proper information security policies and procedures, and are not regularly training their staff on these information security processes.

"It is imperative that companies remain vigilant when it comes to information security and take proactive steps to protect against data breaches," said Michael Collins, Shred-it's regional vice president."A crucial first step is improving awareness of policies and procedures."

According to Shred-it, companies that do not have proper safeguards in place face a number of consequences, including identity theft, fraud, reputational damage, loss of customers, employee turnover and disengagement, and a decrease in competitive advantage.

To help businesses ensure their critical information is safe and secure, Shred-it offers several tips, such as:

  • Implement a "shred-all" policy: To avoid the risks of human error or poor judgment, employers shouldn't ask employees to decide which documents are confidential. Simply decide that all business documents should be shredded when no longer needed.
  • Don't overlook hard drives on computers: Confidential information stored on hard drives is often the target of data thieves and simply erasing this information is not adequate. Physical hard drive destruction is the only 100 percent secure way to permanently destroy data from hard drives.
  • Make document security convenient: Have locked receptacles in the office or at easily accessible locations to ensure that no one has access to sensitive documents after they have been disposed. 
  • Shred before recycling: Don't let confidential documents sit unattended in recycling bins.
  • Create a culture of security: Train all employees in information security best practices to reduce human error. Explain why information protection is important and conduct regular security audits of the office to assess security performance.
  • Think prevention, not reaction: Instead of just dealing with breaches as they happen, develop preventative approaches that are strategic, integrated and long-term, such as eliminating security risks at the source and permanently securing the entire document lifecycle in every part of the organization.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.