As a business managing proprietary information, one of the biggest steps you can take to safeguard data and records is to educate the people who are interacting with it daily: your employees. You might have caught our previous blog and video with some easy steps to improve your information security, and one of those points was employee education. It’s not just important for your employees to know that there is a policy, but they need to be familiar with what the policies are, why they are in place, and what to do if they suspect an information breach has occurred.
Many of the top studies of data breaches point to employee error as a leading cause of data loss. Breaches can occur through employee error as a result of things as simple as not shredding secure information, clicking a bad link in an email, falling victim to a phishing scam, or even sending secure information to the wrong person via email. Even if these things are done unintentionally, they can still lead to large scale breaches which can be harmful to your customers and clients, your employees, and your business reputation. As you are educating your employees about the importance of information security and your specific processes, we have put together some good points to cover.
WHAT ARE YOUR INFORMATION SECURITY POLICIES:
Employees cannot be active on the front lines of information security if they do not know the policies you have put into place to help them. Ensuring that your employees are familiar with and know how to implement your policies will go a long way in helping to prevent future breaches. As you are educating your employees on these policies, it’s important to highlight items including:
- How to secure digital information
- Best practices for validating security of digital information transfers
- How to secure paper records
- How long to keep items in active files (digital and paper)
- How to securely archive information (digital and paper)
- How long to keep archived records (digital and paper)
- The process for securely destroying secure information (digital and paper)
WHY DO YOU HAVE INFORMATION SECURITY POLICIES IN PLACE:
It’s not just important for employees to understand what the policies are, but WHY the policies exist. Share information with them about the rise in data breaches and what is at risk for your organization if a breach occurs. Information security doesn’t just cover client information or payment records, it can also extend to employee records, like healthcare benefits information, retirement savings information, and other identifying information in their employee files. Working to protect security across the board helps everyone, both internally and customer-facing.
KNOW THE CURRENT INFORMATION SECURITY RISKS:
As they say, the best offense is a good defense and good defenses are built on knowing your opponent and dissecting their plan of attack. In terms of information security, this means staying up to date on HOW breaches are happening and what some of the most common threats are to businesses like yours. A great way to educate your employees on these items is through monthly or quarterly updates and reminders. Keeping information security and security risks top of mind will help your employees stay alert to… “phishy” behaviors.
EDUCATE YOUR EMPLOYEES ON INFORMATION SECURITY BEST PRACTICES:
In addition to knowing the risks, your employees should know what steps they should be taking in day-to-day operations to protect information. How should they handle paper waste? what files need to be password protected? What are the best practices for creating secure passwords? It’s also important, in our digital age, to remind employees that these best practices don’t just exist for desk top and work station security, they also extend to mobile devices where you might store or share proprietary information. So, educate them on the importance of securing those devices, only working on secure networks, and always leaving them in a safe place, never out in the open or unattended.
KEEP EMPLOYEES INFORMED ON HOW TO HANDLE A BREACH IF IT OCCURS
No one wants to plan for a security breach, but having a plan in place to stop the breach as soon as you can and begin clean up immediately will go a long way in preventing extensive damage or loss of data in the process. Your employees should know who to contact in the event of the breach and what the steps are to report it and contain it, as well as what steps to take to alert customers, when the time comes.
As a business owner or manager it’s important to know and understand the vital role that your employees play in protecting secure information. They are the front lines of defense when it comes to ensuring that your data is protected since they handle and interact with it each and every day. Keeping them informed and educated on processes, risks, and simple steps they can take to protect secure information will go a long way in maintaining security across your organization.
As a CSRA leader in secure storage and destruction, Augusta Data Storage has been providing off-site storage for your records, and other media storage for over 25 years. In addition, we are equipped to provide secure destruction for your outdated paper records and end of life digital devices to ensure your private information stays private. Contact us today to learn more about how we can partner with you to develop a secure records management process – 706.793.0186.