Securing The Future.

Defying Data Breaches: Strengthening Your Defences

Data breaches can be a life-changing experience, not only for an organisation but also for the people who work within the organisation and those it serves.

For an organisation, a data breach can result in extremely high fines and loss of consumer confidence. For its employees and officers, it can mean fines and imprisonment. For the victims, it can result in loss of money, loss of privacy, identity theft and blackmail.

What is a data breach and how does it happen?

A data breach is when confidential, sensitive, protected or personal information is exposed to persons who have no authorised access to the information. The breach may be intentional or unintentional and even if the information is not used for illegal or unauthorised activities, the fact that it has been exposed constitutes there has been a breach.

 

Examples of intentional data breaches

Intentional data breaches are often the most damaging as there is an intention to find or share information, so it is more likely that this information will be used harmfully.

The malicious insider

A member of staff may choose to deliberately leak data for one of several reasons. They may be disaffected with the company and want to damage its reputation. They may be acting as a spy for a rival organisation or see themselves as a whistleblower. Such members of staff are likely to already have authorised access to the information.

The criminal outsider

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to breach the digital infrastructure of companies and organisations to obtain access to data. Using phishing attacks and malware, they look for information they can use to steal identities, blackmail individuals and companies, disrupt commercial activities and political situations, or profit financially.

Criminals can also commit data breaches by stealing devices that contain or give access to data and by fitting skimming devices to ATMs to steal data when cards are swiped.

 

Examples of unintentional data breaches

Unintentional data breaches may have fewer consequences if they are identified and repaired before data has been viewed or extracted, but the fact that they have happened can be damaging for the person or organisation who holds that data.

messy desk

The careless insider

Most unintentional data breaches are caused by personnel who are authorised to have access to data but fail to follow protocols designed to protect the data.

This can include leaving a computer or device, filing cabinet or storeroom unlocked and unattended, allowing an unauthorised co-worker to use their computer and therefore have access to restricted folders and files, or mislaying a device containing or giving access to data.

Using public WiFi networks can also compromise the security of data, as can failure to regularly update passwords or take adequate measures to protect them.

 

How to reduce the risk of data breaches

While cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, there are basic steps that every organisation should take to avoid data breaches.

Protecting digital data

To reduce the risk to digital data, maintain the security of your computer systems and devices. Replace software that is no longer supported by the manufacturer, even if this means upgrading the hardware. Take advantage of software patches and upgrades as soon as they become available. Use high-grade encryption when you are handling sensitive data.

Employee training is also vital. Educate them on security best practices and how to avoid socially-engineered attacks. Encourage them to use a password manager and insist on strong credentials and multi-factor authentication when this is offered. Discourage them from using personal devices for work, as these may not have the same level of protection as business-grade devices.

Having a secure destruction solution for end-of-life IT equipment is a must. Like paper, old IT equipment/E-waste is generally stored and forgotten about. With data recovery becoming increasing more effective by criminals, storing old computers, hard drives and devices leaves the door wide-open to breaches.

storage room paperProtecting paper-based data

Until the paperless office becomes a universal reality, paper-based data will still be used in many commercial, legal and institutional environments. While these are largely immune from external data breaches, measures must still be taken to protect them.

Documents containing sensitive data must always be kept in locked storerooms, filing cabinets or cupboards with only authorised keyholders. When in use, they should never be left unattended on desks or workstations, next to photocopiers or shredding machines. And when they become redundant, they should be shredded in compliance with GDPR.

The risks of in-house data destruction

While small office shredders may seem adequate for the low-volume user, they can still potentially be a data breach risk factor. Some office shredders only reduce documents to strips, whereas professional shredding equipment cross-cuts the strips into fine particles, making it impossible to read the contents or piece a document back together.

Office shredders are often slow and tend to jam easily, so if there is a queue to use the shredder, it is tempting to leave documents nearby until it is available or delegate the task to a junior member of staff who may not have security clearance to handle the documents.

 

The benefits of outsourcing data destruction

Whatever the scale of your waste document management, outsourcing its destruction to a professional contractor is a greater guarantee against data breaches. However, there are a few things you need to look out for when choosing your secure shredding service provider.

SecurALL Shield LogoSECURALL® is a document destruction and recycling service specifically developed to ensure total end-to-end data security, trusted by educational, legal, financial and healthcare institutions throughout the UK.

This system provides users with secure, lockable consoles for the disposal of redundant documents. The consoles are designed to blend unobtrusively into the modern office environment and provide quick, convenient disposal while maintaining absolute security: once placed in the console, documents can only be retrieved by authorised keyholders.

Patented technology alerts SECURALL when a console requires emptying and this is carried out by BS7858 security-vetted personnel. Documents are transferred to a SECURALL shredding plant, using unmarked vehicles protected with CCTV and real-time satellite tracking as an added layer of security, where they are shredded into extremely fine particles.

Another benefit of using SECURALL for your confidential document destruction is that 100% of the waste byproduct is sent to pulp mills to be made into new paper. As the byproduct is more compact than paper from an office shredder and is transported to the mill in bulk, the carbon footprint per tonne of paper waste is drastically reduced compared with that of waste paper generated by an office shredder.

What about IT Equipment and Storage Devices?

How to correctly dispose of E-waste blog

We wrote a handy blog all about E-waste, it’s impact on the environment and the solution: Here’s How To Correctly Dispose Of E-Waste

 

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