Published 3rd of September 2019

Data security breaches are becoming all too common, with large organisations being fined for not following the correct data procedures.

Small business or self-employed entrepreneurs who work from home are still victims of data theft. Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to ensure your business data is secure.

Assess the Risk

Think about the confidential data you handle daily. Where do you store the data? What do you do with it? It is only you who handles this data? Understand what your responsibility is to protect that data according to data protection laws and what the security risks are.

Evaluate the level of data security of the businesses you work with. This includes suppliers and vendors. By doing this you can ensure all your data stays safe. Keep up-to-date about cyber threats and how to avoid attackers.

Train Employees

If you are working from home with other people you need to make sure each person fully understands The GDPR legislation. Training should be provided to ensure everyone understands what they can and can’t do with people’s data.

If there is a filing system in place, it must be addressed to everyone so that files don’t get misplaced or fall into the wrong hands. Often data security breaches happen by human error so it’s important there’s a simple system in place and everyone knows how to handle confidential information correctly.

Organise your data

Avoid a ‘save everything’ mentality by knowing what you need to keep; for example, contacts, invoices, bills, expense forms and client information. Place any documents into a secure filing cabinet or find a document management service to scan and convert your paper into digital files for you.Ensure that you securely dispose of any client data which has been requested, including their personal information. If a client no longer works with you, then this is also an optimal time to remove their personal data from your systems.

Schedule time in your month to go through the documents you store and have a clear out. Keep on top of all your files by reducing the volume of information you keep. Most importantly, ensure all of the information is managed according to compliance requirements and standards.

Improve your storage

Digitise your files so you don’t have to store them at home, making it easier to retrieve the documents you are looking for. Sometimes, there’s documents which may think you no longer require, but you may need to keep for GDPR purposes. These can be stored in an offsite secure location, and can therefore be easily retrieved should you need them.

If you are storing files in your home, you should store paper documents in locked filling cabinets or drawers so they can’t be accessed easily. Create an indexing or filing system that makes it easy to find the document that you are looking for, for instance in alphabetical order, by year or by categories that make sense to match the way your business operates.

Securely Destroy Unwanted Data

It’s vital that you don’t hold onto any confidential documents you no longer require. Paper documents can contain all kinds of confidential information about your business, clients, employees, finances, etc.

The documents that you need to dispose, must be shredded to ensure all the data has been destroyed. Document shredding significantly reduces the potential for data theft. You can either purchase a home shredder (ensure its a cross cut shredder for the highest security) or you can schedule a shredding service with a document security expert to save you time, to ensure the paper is 100% destroyed and recycled into other paper products.

Securely destroy mobile devices, hard drives and any other media that you no longer require. Confidential information can still be recovered from old hard drives.