7 Simple Ways to Safeguard Sensitive Data


Michael Collins
Regional Vice President, Shred-It

Reports of businesses becoming victims of data breaches and fraud consistently fill the news, yet most organizations are not taking appropriate steps to safeguard sensitive data. As the risk of security breaches continues to become more prevalent, it is increasingly important that organizations protect their confidential information.

It is imperative that companies take proactive steps to protect against data breaches. A crucial first step is improving awareness of policies and procedures. The second step is implementing policies and procedures to enforce sensitive data safeguarding as a company-wide practice and to decrease vulnerability. Neglecting to establish these policies can lead to serious financial impact, reputational damage, loss of customers, employee turnover and disengagement and a decrease in competitive advantage.

International Fraud Awareness Week, taking place Nov. 3-9, 2013, is the perfect time to review your business’ current information security procedures and improve them to further protect your business from identity theft and fraud.

Here are some tips to safeguard sensitive data:

  • Implement a “shred-all” policy. To avoid the risks of human error or poor judgment, don’t ask your 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. Confidential information stored on hard drives is 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 your 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 your organization.
  • Shred using a professional service. It’s one way to ensure there are no security loopholes anywhere in the process.

These tips are a great start to securing your businesses’ confidential information. Being proactive with awareness, policies and procedures can only decrease the possibility of a data breach.