Published 15th of June 2018

According to the UK initiative Action Fraud, 1 in 4 small businesses are affected by fraud every year, amounting to an annual loss of £18.9 billion. Fraud is a real threat that can potentially have serious financial consequences. Given the statistics, it’s not something that small business owners can afford to ignore.

As experts in document security, the Shredall SDS Group exists to help businesses keep their documents in order and their data secure, helping these businesses keep their risk of fraud to a minimum. We would like present a couple of real-world cases of business fraud and the key takeaways for businesses.

Microsoft - intellectual property theft

In April 2015, four men were convicted of intellectual property theft after having gained unauthorised access to Microsoft’s networks. By using stolen logins, the criminals were able to access and steal trade secrets and copyrighted and pre-release works which they were then able to sell for profit. The total estimated value of the stolen information was estimated to be between $100 million and $200 million.

This case is a perfect example of how serious intellectual property theft can be. The theft of paper documents and electronic data can take many forms, whether it’s documents being stolen from bins, employees abusing their access to private information or hackers accessing company networks.

In many cases, intellectual property fraud is committed because proper procedures have not been followed or even put into place; for example when files are left out in the open, resulting in confidential information at risk of being photographed and used to the detriment of the company.

Nevertheless, it isn’t just document storage and protection that is the cause. Often it is the fault of organisations not taking the proper steps to securely dispose of their private data. The shift to cloud computing is making businesses increasingly forgetful of the importance of safely destroying their paper documents and electronic hardware.

The Shredall SDS Group helps to securely destroy documents and hardware that isn’t needed, protecting businesses from fraud. Out state-of-the-art machines destroy documents with sensitive information in line with the GDPR requirements, providing you with a Certificate of Destruction that verifies that the material has been disposed of. The shredded waste is then compacted, locked and transported to our depot for recycling.

2. NHS - company data hacking

In May 2017, the NHS suffered the largest cyber attack in its history, which caused 20,000 appointments and operations to be cancelled. The hacking was part of a global attack by hackers spreading the ‘ransomware’ called WannaCry: a malware that is often spread via emails which trick the recipient into opening attachments, locking the files on the computer and demanding payment in order to regain access.

The NHS came under fire for being ill-prepared for the attacks, with many trusts failing to patch systems that were known to be at risk. It has has been criticised again more recently for being slow to implement measures to change the way it shares and stores its information.

This case study highlights the potentially disastrous consequences of poor data security measures. In an increasingly digital world, businesses are having to face the reality that it is no longer a case of if they will suffer from cyber attacks, but rather when. The solution is thus to prevent these attacks from causing damage as best as possible.

The NHS, for example, could have avoided the hack by migrating to new software that would have fixed the bug that allowed the ransomware to spread. Businesses need to ensure that their online systems are robust and up to date to mitigate any risk of hacking.

However, they should also plan for the worst. Hackers are devising increasingly intelligent ways of finding vulnerabilities in an organisation’s system, meaning that it is impossible for anyone to completely prevent cyber attacks.

Therefore businesses should look to store and back up their paper and electronic documents so that their information is not lost in the event of an attack. We help our clients to securely store documents that aren’t needed regularly in a safe, off-site location. Our document scanning service can also turn vulnerable physical documents into digital documents whose access can be restricted and controlled more easily.

In every industry, businesses are at risk of fraud, whether it be intellectual property theft, ransomware or any other situation where information is illegally obtained for financial gain. Finding secure ways of storing and disposing of documents is thus essential to any business strategy, and we at the Shredall SDS Group want to use our expertise to help organisations in this endeavour.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help to keep your business secure.