Many companies collect and maintain customer and employee information, which may include names, Social Security numbers, addresses and dates of birth. If this data were to be stolen or misplaced, these individuals would be at risk for identity theft — and businesses responsible for the breach may be on the hook for any damages or consequences resulting from the theft.
Paying for fraud protection services, fines and lawsuits, as well as handling public perception, can run up a hefty bill, which is why many companies may want to take certain precautions to keep the personal information they gather safe and secure.
Keep an Inventory
Businesses should be able to account for all of their hardware and files — both electronic and hard copies. Making a detailed list of all the laptops, computer systems, flash drives and other electronics that store sensitive information, and checking it daily, may allow companies to discover a stolen or missing unit quickly and efficiently.
Businesses should also keep tabs on faxes, emails and handwritten letters that may contain personal or private information, as sensitive material often passes through these communication channels.
Not all businesses give an appropriate level of attention to all of their data. They should take extra measures to ensure they know the whereabouts of systems or files that contain people's Social Security numbers and credit card information. Failing to monitor this particular information may increase the risk for identity theft.
Keep Data Secure
Businesses need to ensure they have proper protocols in place to safely protect electronic and physical records, such as:
To protect electronic files:
- Choose a data management system that keeps a detailed track record of every person who views sensitive material.
- Encrypt all systems that store personal information and equip them with the latest antivirus and malware fraud protection.
- Encrypt all email messages sent through the company's networks.
- Run regular security audits to ensure security protocols are in place and work as intended.
- Enforce a rule that says employees must lock their computer desktop access every time they step away from their desk.
To protect hard-copy files:
- Store paper documents, CDs, Zip drives, tapes, and backup hard drives in a locked room or a locked cabinet.
- Limit access to storage areas to only high-level employees.
- Create a system to monitor who enters these secure areas and when.
- Make sure employees know to keep sensitive materials they are working on out of plain sight and to lock their offices each time they step out.
Has your company experienced a data breach? We can help. Call us at 1-888-283-1725, or visit us online, for information and security solutions.