Protecting personal and confidential information

Today, we live in a world that is data heavy, whether that data relates to your business or customers, to employees or contractors. As the volume of data has grown, so too have the penalties and problems that your organisation may face if it doesn’t have the right mechanisms in place to protect personal and confidential information. Damage to business reputation can be irreparable in the wake of a data breach and regulatory authorities have shown themselves more than willing to prosecute businesses, large and small, for non-compliance. So, what do you need to ensure you have covered when it comes to protecting personal and confidential information in 2022?

Get clear on the legal requirements. 

It’s vital to ensure that someone within your business understands what the requirements for data protection are. This isn’t a job that you can leave at the bottom of the To Do list now, as it needs to underpin the way operations are handled. Create a clear data protection policy that covers every aspect of handling personal and confidential information and make sure that everyone in the company knows what to do.

Put robust processes in place. 

What do employees do if they lose a device filled with data or if a key sensitive document is stolen from them? What systems are in place for document destruction (e.g. on-site secure shredding) It’s essential to make sure that there are clear processes in place that staff can activate quickly if something does happen.

Constantly update your data management tools and programmes. 

Given the ever-evolving nature of data protection requirements today, you’ll need to ensure that the data management tools and programmes you’re using internally can keep up. This could mean bringing in a third party to carry out a review of what you’ve invested in, dedicating time and resources to looking for vulnerabilities, and identifying risks, so that you get there before the criminals or the authorities do. It might require some up front expenditure now - but this will cost less than a breach or non-compliance in the long run.

Make sure your employees are on board too. 

Employee awareness is a big part of protecting personal and confidential information. This all starts with awareness and ensuring that your workforce understands the risks involved and what they mean for the business and all the individuals within it. Identify the right behaviours and consistently reinforce them, whether that relates to ensuring confidential documents end up in the right shredding consoles or when it comes to digital password protection.

Provide clear and actionable guidance that applies wherever employees are. 

For example, if you have a clear desk policy then make sure this is enforced - and actionable - wherever staff are working. Advise staff on how to store documents safely and how to securely dispose of documents that are no longer needed. One of the most effective ways to action document destruction is via document shredding, which can be vital for employees working remotely, as well as your on site workforce.

There are no excuses anymore for not protecting personal and confidential information so it’s essential to ensure you have this compliance element covered.

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