When handling confidential information in your business, whether it’s relating to your customers or employees, you have a duty to take the necessary steps to protect it. Failure to ensure that data is properly protected and in accordance with the law can lead to costly legal action as well as damage to your business’s reputation and a loss of business.
Below are some of the best ways to better protect the confidential information that your business handles.
- Control access
For any information that’s stored digitally, it’s incredibly important that you control access to it by using passwords, firewalls and encryption. This is especially important when the information is contained on smaller storage devices such as USB drives that are easily misplaced.
When using passwords to control access to confidential information, you must ensure that they’re both secure and changed regularly. Using easy-to-guess passwords is a mistake that many businesses make and something that you should avoid doing if you want to keep your confidential information secure. The best type of passwords to use is a combination of upper and lower case letters and as well as special characters.
2. Use confidential waste bins and shredders
As prominent as digital data has become, most businesses still deal with a lot of paperwork on a day-to-day basis. If you need to dispose of sensitive documents, then be sure to shred them or use a confidential waste bin. Issues such as identity theft mean that you should never assume that because a document has been put in the bin, it will not be viewed by anyone else.
3. Lockable document storage cabinets
If you need to permanently destroy confidential documents, then a shredder works well but what about documents you need to keep on hand? In this case, the best option is to have lockable storage cabinets that only a few select people have the key for.
To provide an added level of protection, it’s also a good idea to keep any lockable storage cabinets in a locked room that cannot be accessed by everyone.
4. Secure delivery of confidential documents
Storing confidential documents safely on your own premises is one thing but if they need to be delivered then it’s extremely important that this is done in a secure manner. If it’s physical documents that need to be delivered, then it’s a good idea to use a trusted courier service or ideally have them delivered by someone you trust within your organisation.
For digital documents that need to be sent to a third party, you can either email or use a file-sharing program. If you use a file-sharing program, then it’s very important to encrypt the documents and make sure you use a trusted service provider.
5. Employee training
When it comes to confidential data being leaked, often it’s a company’s own employees who are the biggest risk. This isn’t necessarily due to malicious reasons either; often it’s simply because the right training was not provided.
When training your employees about protecting confidential information, it’s a good idea to start first with explaining why data confidentiality is so important and then provide training about the practical aspects of data protection i.e. using secure passwords, destroying of documents etc.
When training your employees about data confidentiality you can either do it in-house or hire a third-party company to provide the training. It may be more practical to do your own training in-house regarding the non-technology aspects of this, but if you want some assistance on passwords, phishing or other IT aspects then you’ll probably want some expert advice from an external IT company such as ourselves.