10 Ways To Avoid Human Error Data Breaches In Your Business

avoid human error data breaches business cyber security

2020 has been a whirlwind of a year, which has demonstrated to a lot of companies how they are failing in terms of data protection. Data leak statistics from 2020 show that a lot of UK companies simply weren’t quick enough to ready themselves for the transition to home working. This put them at a much greater risk of a data breach. 

Even now, months on from our first Coronavirus lockdown, companies still haven’t updated their working measures to protect sensitive data. Hackers and fraudsters have truly taken advantage of this, leading to more and more breaches, both on a personal and corporate level. 

The consequences of a data breach, including fines, court claims, and loss in customer loyalty, are hefty. So, it’s surprising that more companies aren’t investing time and money into measures to avoid them. Here, we’ll be taking you through 10 of the simplest ways to avoid a human error data breach to get you started… 

1. Acknowledge The Importance Of Data Protection 

What’s become really prevalent in recent years is that people simply aren’t clued up on the importance of GDPR, and the repercussions of not following these regulations. Because of this, companies aren’t investing the time and money into implementing proper data protection procedures. 

It’s really important that you acknowledge the importance of data protection. This should be on a personal level - as a company owner - and on an employee level; making sure your staff understand this. 

Without the education and knowledge on the importance of data protection company-wide, and the consequences of not meeting GDPR responsibilities, they will simply not be met. So, educating yourself first, and informing your staff of this importance, is the first step to protection. 

2. Train Employees 

Once everyone is made aware of the importance of data protection, they should then be taught how to do so. In order to ensure all staff are aware of their responsibilities, regular training should be administered company wide. 

This should be completed as part of new-starter induction. It should then be implemented regularly as a refresher course to remind everyone of its importance. In doing so, it should become part and parcel of the company culture, making it second-nature to all. 

3. Clear Data Handling Policies 

Implementing policies for data handling are no good if employees aren’t aware of how to implement them. This comes with training, but also by making data handling policies as simple and easy to follow as possible. Our next seven pointers should help with this, so why not implement these as part of your training. 

4. Dispose Of Documents Properly 

In the workplace, disposing of sensitive company documents using a shredder should be second nature. That said, whilst working from home, this process has clearly gone out of the window. In fact, two in three workers who print and then dispose of documents have simply been throwing these in household bins. 

The risks that this pose may not be clear to everyone, but should be made known to all workers. By throwing away sensitive documents, like client names and addresses, there is a risk that passers-by will stumble across these documents and use them maliciously. This can put your company at risk of ICO fines, and potential court claims. 

Instead, all companies should make these risks known, and ensure all documents are shredded before they’re disposed of. If companies are looking to keep working from home for the foreseeable future, perhaps an investment into home shredders would help. This small cost to make sure all staff have the means to dispose of documents securely could save a lot of strife in the long run. 

5. Properly Handling Of Documents Outside Of Workplace 

It’s not just the handling of documents at home and in the workplace that’s important, but also the handling of sensitive data when out and about. Many data breach cases occur due to careless handling of documents on public transport and in client homes. Because of this, it’s important employees are made aware of these risks and how to avoid them. 

Ultimately, if anyone is taking documents outside of the workplace, they need to ensure they are with them safely at all times. What’s more, if employees realise they have misplaced them, they should act immediately to rectify the situation. Without this, they may be at risk of exposing sensitive client data to outsiders, which could lead to a number of consequences. 

6. Use Of Company Devices 

The transition to working from home has meant that those who are working without a company laptop (which has been most people) have been at a greater risk of hacking. This is because personal laptops usually: 

• Won’t be on a secure network. 
• Won’t be updated regularly. 
• Won’t have anti-malware installed. 

So, making sure all staff work on a company laptop is paramount. However, if this isn’t something you can realistically budget for, you should ensure that, at the bare minimum, personal laptops for work use should have anti-malware installed. What’s more, those who are using company devices should also be made aware about the risks of using work laptops for personal use, for example movie streaming. 

Put simply, all personal laptops should have security installed by employers to be as safe as possible. Then, those who are using work laptops should be made aware of how to use them responsibly. 

7. System Updates 

Hackers are usually one step ahead of the game, so any systems that aren’t updated are at risk of being hacked. Because of this, part of staff training should be to encourage them to update their devices and systems as and when they are prompted. This should help to avoid the risk of malware entering the computer. 

8. Email Security 

Many data breaches occur due to careless use of email software. For example, accidentally sending an email with sensitive information to someone else could land you in hot water. Because of this, some steps to take for email security include: 

• Send test emails whenever a mass email is being sent out to spot any potential breaches. 

• Drill it into staff to make it a habit to check and double-check recipients of an email before sending. 

• Make sure all staff know how to recognise malicious emails. 

• Train staff on when and how to use encrypted email software. 

• Make sure there are extra steps in place for dealing with bank details, so they aren’t simply sent over email. 

9. Remaining On Secure Network 

Having a secure network, like a VPN, to work from is all well and good, as long as employees are aware when and how to use it. It should be made clear why it’s important to remain on it, as well as what sort of activities require its use. Otherwise, there’s simply no point in having one, as data becomes much less protected from prying eyes. 

10. Have An Action Plan In Place 

Having secure networks and cyber security software in place is a great place to start, but what if technology fails? In this case, it’s really important that there is a clear action plan for what to do. 

For example, if employees can’t get on the secure network or their computer can’t open a file, should they start working from their personal laptop instead? Or perhaps they should notify a senior member of staff and work through it together? Whatever you decide, you need to have these safeguards in place, and make sure all employees are aware of them. 

Think You’re Ready To Avoid Human Error Data Breaches? 

Clearly, there are many ways a company can protect client data from a breach. It’s all down to implementing safeguards, and educating staff on how to use them correctly. Without this education, no amount of cyber security measures will work. 

Once you have this education in place, there’s nothing you and your team can’t protect. We wish you luck in securing your data!

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