Data blog

Top tips on how to keep your business data confidential and how to dispose of it safely

Let’s be honest. Many of us are guilty of not backing up our important electronic documents as often as we should. In fact, 30% of us have never performed a backup (source: World Backup Day). That is why this year, we are shouting about World Backup Day 2021 which falls on Wednesday 31st March. This awareness day was launched to remind everyone how important it is to back up electronic files, not only important personal files like photos, but confidential data within your business too.

Not convinced that backing up is important? Statistics from the official World Backup Day campaign might change your mind. Research has shown that 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute and one in 10 computers are infected with viruses each month. Almost everyone has had experiences where they have lost important data when a computer has crashed, data became corrupted, a virus destroyed data or you simply forgot to regularly click that ‘save’ button. Apparently, 29% of computer disasters are caused by an accident (source: World Backup Day). So yes, backups are a pain, but they are a necessary evil that can save you when things go bad, so hopefully we have convinced you to take the pledge this World Backup Day and perform that all important backup of your documents. Whilst you’re thinking about backing up to a USB hard drive or researching the best cloud storage for confidential data, now is a great time to think about how you can keep your confidential data safe.

How do I keep my data confidential?

Under the Data Protection Act (1998) and the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), businesses have a strict duty to ensure all personal data is kept confidential. Break the law and you could be faced with a hefty fine. Take British Airways as an example. In September 2018, the UK airline reported to the ICO a breach of personal data of approximately 500,000 of its users. Criminals hacked into the British Airways online system and diverted users to a fraudulent website where they stole personal data including names, addresses and credit card details. British Airways reported the incident to the ICO but still got fined a whopping £183.39 million as ICO found that poor security management caused the leak (source: Cookie Law Info).

If you’re now sat thinking “is my business’ data secure” ? Don’t panic. Many of us will have the correct security systems in place to ensure that personal data housed within our business remains confidential, but here are a few quick tips, or reminders, on how to keep both electronic and paper data secure at your business premises:

Encrypt data – this an excellent practice to adopt as it really does prevent your confidential electronic documents being read by unwanted eyes. Encryption will render data unreadable to any unauthorised person. You will still be able to access the file as you will have the password, but encryption ensures that a hacker who manages to breakdown that security wall won’t be able to read the file.

Implement passwords – it is always best practice to protect your most confidential documents on your computer, as well as the computer itself, with a suitable password. These passwords MUST be strong so don’t even think about protecting your confidential data with ‘password123’ or ‘abc123’! Your password should be something that you can remember but strong by using a mixture of upper and lower case characters, numbers in place of letters and special symbols such as ‘!’ or ‘@’.

Lockable filing cabinets – nowadays, many of our files are electronic, but some businesses will still have the need to keep personal data in a physical form. This may be particularly true if you work in accountancy or financial services. If you can relate, make sure that your confidential paper documents are kept in a lockable, fireproof safe or filing cabinet and keep the key with you or in a secure place. 

Cybersecurity – finally, you should ensure that your business’ desktop computers and laptops have the very best cybersecurity. Think anti-virus software, enabling firewalls and whitelisting applications (source: UoD).

How do I dispose of confidential data?

Whilst you are spending time ensuring that your confidential data is protected by the very best security and has been backed-up efficiently, you may come across data that you no longer need.

Remember the Data Protection Act (1998) and the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that we mentioned earlier? These also stipulate that you need to ensure all data you destroy is handled securely. DCW can help.

We provide businesses across the South West with a range of services for the secure disposal and destruction of all types of confidential data in both paper and electronic forms. Our Zero to Landfill recycling service guarantees that your personal and financial information is protected right up to the point of destruction, and ensures you are compliant with the current legislation. Whether you require confidential waste shredding, software wiping, hard drive data destruction or drive disposal, DCW’s experienced and DBS-checked operatives are here for you.

Backups keep your business protected and productive, so make sure you remember to take the World Backup Day pledge on Wednesday 31st March – “I solemnly swear to back up my important documents and precious memories on 31st March.” If you would like to find out more about DCW’s confidential waste disposal service, call 01752 429565 or email sales@dcw.co.uk.

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