LONDON, July 12, 2016

Businesses need to ensure their workforce fully understands how to protect confidential information while working from home and travelling over the summer holiday or they could face a data breach, Shred-it, the UK’s leading data destruction company, has warned.

Staff working from home as part of their childcare arrangements or checking emails while relaxing on the beach is more common during the summer holidays, but while a whopping 97 percent of C-Suite executives and over half (55 percent) of SME business owners say they have mobile working arrangements for employees, only 41 percent of larger businesses and 32 percent of SMEs have policies in place for off-site work environments[1]. This means that employees could be unwittingly putting business, customer or staff data at risk without even realising it.

Shred-it is calling on all businesses in the UK to ensure they have measures in place to help employees understand how to protect confidential information so they can slip effortlessly into holiday mode without worrying about getting burnt by data carelessness.

Robert Guice, Senior Vice President, Shred-it EMEAA, said: “While employees leave work for a well-deserved break with their family and friends, it is vital that information security remains at the forefront of their minds. Preparing in advance will allow them to safeguard their confidential information and ensure that they, and their organisation, are protected against a potentially damaging data breach. After all, the last thing anyone wants to see while lying on their sun lounger is their company’s name in the headlines due to confidential information being found where it shouldn’t!”

Shred-it has prepared these helpful tips for businesses to share with their employees over the summer season.

Don’t let a data breach take the shine out of your summer; protect your confidential information with six simple steps:

1. Guilty of having a messy desk? Before you leave for your holiday, tidy your work area and ensure that confidential information is safely secured or destroyed to stop data thieves from having easy access to important details.

2. Encrypt and password-protect your electronic devices. If you need to log in on holiday or do work from home using your laptop or tablet, having a password set will help safeguard any confidential information stored on them.

3. Writing that summer checklist? Why not also write a log of the electronic equipment or USBs leaving the office with you over your holiday? Be mindful about where your equipment is at all times, it’s all too easy to leave a USB lying around and forget about it when you’re in a coffee shop or have one eye on the kids.

4. Limit the amount of confidential data you remove from the office. You may think that you need to take information with you before jetting off, but the less confidential information you remove from the office, the less likely it is that it will fall into the wrong hands.

5. Make sure you know how to securely dispose of work-related documents when you are not in the office. Don’t simply throw them in the rubbish when you no longer need them. Also, personal strip shredders are not as secure as a professional cross-shredding service so bear this in mind – bring confidential documents back to the office to be securely destroyed.

6. Have an office clear out. Holidays allow us to clear our mind and come back to work feeling refreshed, so why not adopt this mantra into your working life too? Check your workspace and make sure confidential information is either securely stored or disposed of by placing it in a secure console to be destroyed by a professional destruction service.