Procurement 1 November 2016

Your employees have access to confidential data Here’s why it pays to protect it

data protection
As many as 59 per cent of employees who quit or leave their job take confidential data with them
Here, Adam Bennett, Security consultant at Digital ID tells small business owners how to protect their valuable data.

In businesses today, around 97 per cent of all documents are created and stored electronically.

This represents a vast amount of data and within this data lies the information that gives each of those businesses a competitive edge. If this data were to fall into the hands of a competitor, it could spell the end of a business? viability.

Whilst most businesses are now well aware of the importance of security, many are unaware that one of the biggest threats comes from their own employees.

The statistics

In the 12 months from June 2015 to June 2016, 69 per cent of organisations in a survey conducted by Accenture experienced and attempted or realised data theft or corruption by corporate insiders.

Meanwhile, 59 per cent of employees who quit or are asked to leave their job take confidential or sensitive business information with them upon their departure.

Though big businesses have begun investing in security measures, it is smaller companies who have the most to lose and who, sadly, are the most prone to attacks.

In 2013, over 60 per cent of all online attacks were directed at SMEs. In addition, high employee turnover rates amongst fast-growing startups mean that they are disproportionately affected by data theft.

This problem is exacerbated by the high rates at which departing employees take company data: 85 per cent admit to taking documents and information that they had created, whilst 30 per cent admit to taking documents and information that they had not created.

Amongst the stolen data included a significant amount of sensitive information, including customer data, source code, and patent filings.

When the information at risk is vital for your company’s success, it’s imperative that you keep it secure. Figuring out exactly how to do that can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are afew tips to help you keep your business safe from data theft.

Change the culture

One of the key reasons why employees commit data theft is due to a lack of clarity over company policy, including a lack of understanding as to whose responsibility it is to protect sensitive data.

In a 2015 Cisco survey, 48 per cent of employees stated that they werent concerned about their company’s security policy. Meanwhile, 39 per cent said that they thought it was their employer’s responsibility to protect company data, rather than theirs.

It is of the utmost importance that all employees are aware of their responsibility to protect data. This begins by implementing a clear and well-publicised security policy, which sets out when employees may and may not use company assets and information.

Your employee handbook should leave no doubt as to what is and is not acceptable regarding company data, including ownership of data created by a specific employee, whether it is acceptable to use a personal device for company policy, and where confidential data can and cannot be stored.

Importantly, employees need to be aware that they are responsible for business data security.

What an individual does from day-to-day could have a serious impact on the security and in many cases, the viability of their entire company. it’s therefore crucial that these behaviours benefit the business, and don’t expose it to unnecessary risks.