(ARA) - We've all seen the headlines: Medical records uncovered in a dumpster, credit card numbers stolen from our favorite retailers and identity fraud at businesses in our own communities. Identity theft and data breach crimes are everywhere. What many people don't realize is that when they don't protect their company's confidential information at work, they're not just putting their employer, clients and customers at risk - they're endangering themselves and their co-workers too.
The Fellowes' Workplace Data Security Report found that 81 percent of full-time business employees have access to paper documents containing sensitive workplace information, yet only 62 percent cite their company as having a data security policy on which employees are trained. Some of those untrained employees may be leaving their companies vulnerable to a security breach, as the survey also reports that nearly a quarter of employees leave sensitive paper documents on top of their desks.
According to the study, full-time office employees may unwittingly contribute to a digital or paper-based security breach by practicing risky behaviors:
* Approximately one in four (26 percent) leave their computers unlocked when away from their desk
* Fifteen percent throw paper documents containing sensitive information in the trash
* Only 60 percent maintain a secure firewall
* Less than half of respondents (44 percent) ensure their mail is safe by sending it through a secure mailbox
"Whether electronic or in paper form, confidential information in the workplace is a hot item for theft, and the methods employed by criminals to obtain this information are constantly evolving," says John Sileo, an identity theft expert. "With smart prevention measures, you can help your company avoid a costly breach that can lead to personal consequences - like identity theft."
Having learned a great deal from suffering a security breach within his own business, Sileo is now an award-winning author and international speaker on the topic. He travels the country educating businesses about ways to prevent the crime.
"Data protection can be simple as long as the proper procedures are in place and widely practiced," continues Sileo. He offers five key pieces of advice when speaking with business employees:
1. Lock your office when you leave for the day to prevent anyone accessing it after hours.
2. Ensure your computer is locked with a secure password containing a unique combination of letters and numbers.
3. Ask your IT department to check that your firewall is secure and up to date.
4. Don't leave paper documents on your desk or in common printing areas and store important documents in a locked filing cabinet.
5. Shred unneeded documents with a Cross-Cut shredder, like Fellowes' 79Ci.
According to Sileo, a shredder with Cross-Cut technology is vital to ensuring documents are properly destroyed. The 79Ci from Fellowes also offers 100 percent Jam Proof technology to help make shredding jobs easy and productive.
For more information about data breach prevention and Fellowes' 79Ci, visit www.fellowes.com