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Untrained workers leave companies vulnerable to data breaches
ITASCA, Ill. (3/23/12)--About 81% of office employees have access to paper documents containing sensitive workplace information, and nearly a quarter of employees leave sensitive paper documents on top of their desks, says a study released Thursday.

Sixty-two percent say their company has a data security policy on which employees are trained. What this means is that some untrained employees may leave their companies vulnerable to a security breach, said Fellowes' Workplace Data Security Report.

Office employees may unwittingly contribute to digital or paper-based security breaches by practicing other risky behaviors, said Fellowes. For example, of those employees surveyed:

  • Twenty-six percent leave their computers unlocked when away from their desk;
  • Fifteen percent throw paper documents containing sensitive information into the trash;
  • Sixty percent maintain a security firewall; andLess than half (44%) 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," said John Sileo, national identity theft expert and CEO of The Sileo Group.  "Data protection can be simple as long as the proper procedures are in place and widely practiced," he said. 

Credit unions, which extensive security  policies should make sure all their employees know the policy. They also can pass Sileo's advice along to members with small businesses, as well as make sure they companies they work with train employees about identity theft so that account information at risk at a small business.

His advice:

  • Lock the office when leaving for the day to prevent unauthorized access after hours;
  • Ensure the computer is locked with a secure password with a unique combination of letters and numbers;
  • Ask the information technology department to check that the computer's firewall is secure and up-to-date;
  • Avoid leaving paper documents on the desk or in common printing areas, and store important documents in a locked filing cabinet; and
  • Shred documents that are no longer needed.
Fellowes is an Ithasca, Ill.-based company that sells office equipment, including shredders and record storage solutions. About 1,000 full-time office workers completed the online survey conducted by Toluna Research. Respondents were drawn from a national online panel maintained by Toluna.
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