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If a Thief Doesn’t Get Your Data, These Things Probably Will

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Frustrated man looking at laptop screen and touching head in shockYou may not think anyone wants your personal information, but you would be amazed at its potential value. In 1998, a Brazilian man used the identity of a boy who had died in 1979 to apply for a US passport, renew it six times over the next 20 years, obtain a marriage license, acquire a home loan, and work as a flight attendant for United Airlines. After two decades, Ricardo Cesar Guedes’ deception was eventually discovered and he will appear in court this coming April.

But thieves aren’t your only worry when it comes to your data. Lurking in the shadows of your own office are other inconspicuous fiends waiting to wreak havoc on your data. Most of them can be avoided, but you and your staff must be actively alert. How many of these do you recognize and to which do you intentionally have safeguards in place?

1. Technical Disaster

The potential for software crashes or hardware failures exists at all times and attacks your data without warning. The normal accumulation of dust clogs computer fans and can kill your hard drive. Accidental damage from liquid spills or downloading an infected attachment will damage your hardware. Software can also crash due to errors in the operating system. Regardless of the cause, a technical failure can rob you of your valuable data permanently unless you have a reliable, redundant backup system in place.

2. Natural Disaster

Because natural disasters are one of the least likely reasons for losing your data, you may be all the more unprepared and unexpectant. Statistics say that one in four small companies are prepared for a major natural disaster. No matter the level of the likelihood of their existence, they can still attack without warning. It might be in the form of a power outage, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, severe storm, earthquake, or any other unexpected “act of God.” Copies of data are of no value in the event of a disaster if they are kept in the same location. Backups must be kept offsite from the original and duplicates shouldn’t be kept in the same location.

3. Human Error

For the most part, we all trust ourselves to be extremely careful with data entry, storing, transferring, and copying. But according to an IBM Cyber Security Intelligence Index Report, human error causes 95% of cyber security breaches. Data loss caused by human error can look like:

  • Misplacing data. This can occur because of poor file naming or typos. The more data you handle, the higher the risk that it will be misplaced or lost.
  • Accidental data deletion. No matter how careful and attentive we are, deletion happens. When backup systems aren’t in place, the result is disastrous.
  • Failure to backup data. Because it’s human nature to cut corners or be sloppy, setting up a system that automatically backs up data on a regular basis is critical.
  • Spills on computer. This is more of a damage issue than it is a cause of data loss, unless there isn’t a backup available.

4. Auditors and Lawyers

It’s easy to forget about the old files laying around your office in people’s file drawers and languishing in the file room, but they actually present a significant risk to your business. Even if a thief doesn’t get that information, an auditor could. Those files are also fair game for the discovery process in a legal action of any kind. Determine what files should be destroyed, and when. Then, when files reach the end of their retention lifecycle, have them destroyed by a local, reputable shredding company. And don’t forget about old hard drives and other media you’re no longer using. They are a gold mine of information and should also be destroyed.

Wiggins Shredding serves Pennsylvania and the Tri-State area of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey with secure and compliant shredding services. We are ready to help both commercial and residential clients protect their data and confidential information. Call us at 610-692-TEAR (8327) or complete the form on this page, and one of our friendly experts will help you with the perfect solution for your shredding needs.

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