Each day, businesses handle confidential data containing everything from trade secrets and market research, to employee social security numbers and home addresses. Current news headlines about hacking and stolen laptops have shown that the release of any proprietary data can have catastrophic results. Economic implications are only part of the negative results, as companies can now face penalties like fines and lawsuits if they fail to properly store and destroy sensitive data. In some states, lawmakers have also started to hold employers responsible for protecting employees’ data. Consider taking the following steps to help minimize their risk of identity theft at the workplace:
- Create company guidelines for all employees that outline the proper procedures for protecting sensitive data.
- Keep all physical files with sensitive data locked away. Restrict access to those only those who need it and closely monitor your files.
- Shred anything that contains sensitive data.
- Work with the IT department to track and safeguard the access employees have to electronic files.
- Make sure every company computer has the latest and greatest anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software. Also, check to make sure wireless networks are protected with the proper security measures.
- Limit the use of social security numbers in the office. Don’t use social security numbers on items like employee identification badges, time cards or paychecks.
- Run thorough background checks before hiring new employees. It is not uncommon for confidential information to be stolen by co-workers.
- Use locked mailboxes to send mail containing personal information and company checks.
- At the end of each workday, all employees should log off their computers and lock their workstations or office doors. All confidential documents should be filed away rather than left at one’s desk.