How to Secure the 10 Most Vulnerable Places in Your Office

protect your work space from data breaches

If you asked any business owner to leave their front doors unlocked at night, they’d laugh at you. The idea of leaving private files and company belongings open to the public is inconceivable. Whether it’s information or stock, everyone understands the risk of theft from unauthorized intruders. However, what you may not realize is that this threat is still present inside company doors. Even businesses with the best intentions frequently overlook these ten common office areas. The good news is that remedying the problem is easy, once you understand where issues exist.

1. Work Desks

Yep – the place where you spend most of your day is one of the areas with the highest risk for inadvertently putting information at risk. Many of us work with sensitive information of one kind or another throughout the day, like pulling up passwords or working with client files. However, when you’re no longer at your desk, you need to make sure that it’s clean and that nothing of a confidential nature is on display. A good rule of thumb is the “photo test” – if someone were to take a picture of your desk, would they walk away with information they shouldn’t have? This solution is arguably the easiest way to secure confidential information and is one that should be followed on a daily basis.

2. The Office Printer

Whenever you print off a document, it’s important that you retrieve it promptly and check to make sure that everything you printed is accounted for. Open printer trays, especially in a high-traffic office, are easy places for a thief to snag a sheet of client details. Determine a method of security that works for your office and keep a record of what’s printed and by whom.

3. The Storage Room

Ah, the storage room. A treasure trove of dusty boxes, forgotten old flash drives, and storage software from the 80s. However, hiding behind this easily forgotten door are many different types of data vulnerabilities. Old hard drives, even if the files have been deleted, can still hold magnetic data that can be recovered by hackers. The same goes for floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs. Even old paper files present a risk.

The solution to this one is obvious: clean out the storage room on a regular basis. If you suspect that there will be some items (like old hard drives or papers) that need to be carefully disposed of, arrange for a mobile shredding service to visit on the same day. That way, you can throw out as you clean while still maintaining a strict level of security.

4. The Accounting Area

It makes sense that the place where all the monetary information and employee payroll details are kept should require some extra security, but often, this area is only marginally more secure than employee desks. Ideally, there should be limited access to the accounting area, and all sensitive documents should be safely locked away when not in use. Any guests to the office should check in and receive permission to visit the accounting area before being allowed in.

5. The Garbage Can

The office garbage can usually doesn’t warrant too much thought (until someone throws out half of an old tuna sandwich, and then it’s all anyone can talk about). However, documents in the garbage can easily be plucked out and tucked away. When the trash bag is finally moved to the exterior dumpster, the information becomes available to any passerby with an inclination for dumpster-diving. If your office doesn’t already have one in place, design and implement a document disposal strategy. Again, a mobile shredding service can come in handy, especially if your company handles a lot of papers with sensitive or confidential information.

6. The Recycling Bin

Picture the garbage can, but without the tuna sandwich. Papers, documents, and even sticky notes with confidential information can be collected from here, too. The good news is that you can completely remove the recycling bin (the one for paper, anyway) from office use. All papers processed by off-site or mobile shredding services recycle the remaining particles, so you can rest assured that you’re still doing your part for the environment – just minus the security risk.

7. Employee Phones

A survey by Syntonic discovered that 87% of employers required employees to access business apps on their personal phones. While technology is undeniably a fantastic asset, especially for commerce, it does present several security risks, especially from personal phones. Instead of having only one access point for confidential business information, there are suddenly twenty or more – and they all have varying levels of security protocols. If employees absolutely must use their personal devices for work, it’s imperative that you have a good security plan in place. Make sure each employee understands the responsibility of handling company information, and make sure they sign out of the application after each use.

8. The Meeting Room

Like work desks, the meeting room sees a lot of secure, confidential information and innovative new ideas. You wouldn’t want these to leak outside, so make sure that whoever uses the room next doesn’t have access to your information. If a computer is used for presentations or email reference, sign out of all accounts and make sure that only those with permission can use it. If papers are handed out with confidential data, make sure that an office system is in place to encourage their safe disposal.

9. The IT Room

92% of organizations provide Wi-Fi to their employees, which can be used for both personal and business-related activity. This network needs extensive levels of security, especially if business is conducted online or over the cloud. The router should be in a physically secure location (this means, minimally, a locked door with registered access), and make sure that you change default login information.

10. The Lunch Area

Sometimes, the most relaxed areas present the highest risks. If employees bring documents with them for lunch review or discuss confidential information in an area with unrestricted access, it could create the opportunity for a data breach. Make sure employees understand where they may discuss confidential information, and make sure there’s a safe place for disposing confidential data.

Most of these ways to secure confidential information just require a little thought and an afternoon of planning. However, having a mobile shredding service on call can make the process even easier (and hey, if you really want to go for peak efficiency, you can even set up a scheduled service).

If you have any questions as to what’s included in our scheduled or mobile shredding services, give us a call at (225) 751-8535 or request a free quote online.