10 Easily Preventable Ways Employees Put Sensitive Data at Risk

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It’s no secret that most corporate data breaches at the employee level stem from human error. In our connected, mobile society, fast connections and instant-on apps are the norm. It is important, therefore, to educate everyone who works for your company on how data breaches happen and what can be done to prevent them.

  • Unauthorized sharing of documents. When an employee needs to get a document to another employee or a client, they will likely use whatever method is easiest for them. If their corporate email has attachment size limits or their VPN is too slow, they may simply use a personal email server or worse, totally insecure off-premises storage like Dropbox or Box. To prevent this, your company needs simple, fast, and secure file transfer software backed by policies that help employees use it.
  • Insecure WiFi networks. When one of your employees is on the road, they may log on to the internet using a WiFi network at a coffee shop or airport. If they transfer files at these locations, their data could pass through multiple insecure networks, opening data to interception. Make sure remote employees are familiar with best practices for transferring files over remote networks.
  • Misplaced laptops, smartphones, and other pieces of office technology. A lost or misplaced laptop or smartphone, even if it is password-protected, is a huge liability. Remote killswitch technology exists to allow you to wipe a lost device remotely, but if this is not an option, make sure that your passwords are as secure as possible.
  • Visiting insecure websites while at work. Many employees spend their free time at work perusing popular websites. They may end up on an insecure web site that will allow hackers to access your corporate computer system. It is important to have security features in place to block insecure sites and to educate your employees about what sites are safe to visit while at work.
  • Clicking on dubious attachments while at work. If an employee clicks on an email attachment from a hacker, you could be in for a world of hurt. Make sure you have excellent spam filters and that your employees know how to identify malicious emails.
  • Easy-to-crack Bluetooth pins. . If your employees make copious use of Bluetooth technology, they could unknowingly put your company at risk. Four-digit PINs commonly used on Bluetooth are easy to hack. Advise employees to use complex, secure pins when using Bluetooth on their devices to keep company data safe.
  • Not logging out. This is a simple one, but you’d be amazed how often workers don’t log out of their workstations at the end of a day. Encourage employees to log out every day to keep your network safe.
  • Insecure user IDs and passwords. Secure passwords include a mix of capital and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. They should be at least 6 digits long.
  • Keeping old documents. While your office is probably using less paper than ever, printed documents can still be a security liability. When a printed document has worn out its usefulness, shred it.
  • Out-of-date or nonexistent antivirus software. To prevent viral attacks on your office computers, install antivirus software on your network and be sure to keep it up-to-date.
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