Today more than any other time in history, protecting company privacy is essential. Unfortunately, the number of cases associated with identify theft have not only risen but also moved from personal to business. Over the past few years, a number of large companies and even government agencies have been in the news for having laptop computers and vital information on employees and the organization itself stolen. What makes this so uncomfortable is that usually, the privacy is being threatened from within the very organization that is supposed to secure it.
Keep in mind that while some organizations are at greater risk for thefts, such as credit card companies, banks, or government agencies, even the small mom and pop shops are at risk. Remember, it would only take one instance of information leaking out to put a company completely out of business. The problem is that not only is data being stolen, but often sold to criminals that know exactly how to extract what they want to make a profit – at your expense.
More than ever, it is crucial to do all you can to protect your organization and employees. In today’s flat work force, many employees use laptops rather than desktops. A laptop enables employees to work from any location eliminating downtime for the field employee and increasing the efficiency of communication. However, every time an employee takes the computer out of the office, the potential risk of privacy is increased. Let us say an employee had a laptop with no logon protection. This employee worked in the financial sector of the business and after going to dinner while on a business venture, he returns to the hotel room only to find the laptop gone. Now, without the computer having any type of password protection, anyone can gain access. However, professional criminals can hack anything with or without protection.
In addition to accidents such as this, other situations could arise putting your organization in danger. For instance, if there were a disgruntled employee, perhaps someone passed over for a promotion, or someone who knows his or her job were ending, this individual may feel there is nothing to lose by leaking out or taking vital information. If this person were unstable or just angry, he or she could cause damage to the company through the sharing of trade secrets, personal data or other sensitive information. Then of course, you have people who go to work for companies specifically for the sake of stealing private data. Although this is not as common, it does exist and this practice is growing.
Yet even with Identity Theft and Privacy being spotlighted in the media, companies remain surprisingly vulnerable. Organizations around the globe have no clue to the quantity of sensitive information being leaked out but even worse, no tracking system is in place to find out or to correct the problem. While we often focus on the computer as a source of theft, private data can be taken out of a company in many other ways. For instance, iPods, USB sticks, or any portable device makes downloading information easy and covert. What happens is that in addition to the company and employees being at risk, customer relations could be severely damaged as well due to lack of trust and confidence.
To give you an idea of just how data is being taken out of organizations, 75% is with the use of a portable device, 63% via email attachments, and 59% from content within emails. Sadly, a number of companies were recently surveyed and of those, just 50% stated they had any concern. If you are working hard to build your organization, you need to take this risk seriously. With so many possibilities for privacy to be robbed, it is crucial that you understand the risks and then take appropriate action to correct them. If major data leaks can occur within tightly secured companies such as AT&T, National Audit Office, Veterans Affairs, and Google, then surely you too can potentially be at risk.
Take steps to protect your trade secrets and sensitive private data. This is an area worth making an investment. With the sheer volume of information that is produced daily within a company, it is challenging to ensure security. However, taking time to understand who has access to important data and how to best protect it is well worth the investment of time and money. After all, what would it cost you if your valuable data was lost or stolen?