Information, it's always been there

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Whatever you do and wherever you go – keep your data safe!

Information, it’s always been there.

And whatever profession or business you work in, that usually means 3 things:

  • You’re likely to have lots of it (now more than ever).
  • It’s in both paper and electronic format.
  • It’s always in one of three states: storage, active use or on the move.

Add to these the fact that you’ve a duty of care to keep track of and look after it all and, suddenly, there’s a fair bit to think about!

Here are some tips and considerations on keeping your data safe…

The 3Ms of data storage: maintenance, movement and migration

So how do you store your data? Do you carry it around with you? And what measures do you take to keep it secure?

Because, whether you keep it out of the way in a basement somewhere, in your office/on your PC or frequently need to take it out and about, it doesn’t take much for things to go awry.

1. Store it safely, send it safely and destroy it safely!

Whatever data you hold and in whatever format, it needs to be secure! This could range from something as simple as storing paper files under lock and key and ensuring that employee and customer information is only accessed by those with the authority to do so, to investing in high levels of encryption and cloud storage security. And when the time comes to dispose of the data, it’s done effectively and permanently (e.g. properly shredded instead of left lying intact in a bin; fully erased from hard drives etc.).

2. Take extra care if you’re a ‘mobile’ profession…

No, we’re not talking telecoms but those professions that frequently need to carry files and data around with them – such as law professionals, social services and healthcare providers – whose work means they visit different locations to do their job. Don’t be that person who leaves their phone on the roof of the car or confidential folder on public transport/in someone’s house! We know it sounds obvious, but it does happen. And if the worst did hit the fan, would you know instantly what sensitive information had been compromised?

3. Don’t let that double espresso become double trouble…

Who hasn’t got some work done in a coffee shop occasionally or when travelling? Most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about but, then again, it’s worth being aware of how easy it is to slip up…

So perhaps think again about popping to the loo and leaving your laptop unattended… Or not having your laptop or important files password-protected… And if you frequently tend to use public places to get your head down, consider getting a privacy screen that shields your work from prying eyes. Even talking too loudly can inadvertently disclose sensitive information to others…

4. Sending documents in the post? Don’t push the envelope too far!

Despite everything being online these days, there are still instances where only hard copies will suffice; and, unless you’re able to hand-deliver important documents, this means couriering or sending them by post.

If you use Royal Mail, it’s worth remembering that they’re neither a controller or processor of the data you’ve given them – they’re simply acting as a courier – so it’s still your responsibility to safeguard it and ensure you’ve taken every precaution to make its transfer as secure as possible. (Usually, this would be through an enhanced service like ‘Special Delivery’.) Remember: just sealing the envelope and sticking a stamp on it isn’t enough!

5. Don’t forget to take it with you when you move premises!

Unless you’ve digitised everything, there’s a fair chance you’ll have reams and reams of paper records stored away somewhere – and usually because they need to be retained for a set period (e.g. credit reference agencies are permitted to keep consumer credit data for six years whereas medical records must be retained up to 10 years after death).

So whatever your organisation, if you have old records stored out of sight (and potentially out of mind), remember to take everything with you if you move. Otherwise, you’ll be giving a whole new meaning to going paperless!

Keen to improve your data security? Get in touch!

We get it. Even though the GDPR has been in force for more than a year now, we recognise that not everyone has had time to embrace it. And, dare we say it, there are some who are just about getting by!

But – as long as you’re planning on putting things right and getting some proper help – it’s never too late. Just get in touch and we’ll have you on top of things in no time.

So quickly, in fact, you won’t even have time to think: “Now, where did I leave my diary…?”

Until next time...

The information and remarks provided in this article represent insight and guidance for best practice which is correct or valid or appropriate at time of publication.

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Supported by Business Resilience secured by OxLEP Business
Supported by Business Resilience secured by OxLEP Business