Tip of the Week: Protecting Against Identity Theft in the Workplace

Tip of the Week: Protecting Against Identity Theft in the Workplace

On average, how many people do you think are affected by identity theft? According to the United States Bureau of Justice, about five percent of its population; about 11.7 million people, are victims of identity theft. Their methods might vary, but the one thing that all victims have in common is that they hold information that presents value to hackers. Among these victims could be a few that hit close to home: your employees.

Most businesses will collect data from both clients and employees for various purposes. For example, your human resources department will collect Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and perhaps even routing numbers for your employees’ direct deposit. Since you’re collecting all this data, you become a very lucrative target for hackers.

On the other hand, if you collect payment details for your clients, those are also at risk, and any employees handling this information will be responsible for protecting it. Therefore, you need to implement policies that are designed to protect your business’s data, and reinforce them with established best practices. We’ll break down some of the basic ways that your business can make data security a top priority.

Consider a Paperless Policy
If there’s one thing that an identity thief loves to take advantage of, it’s a paper trail. Consider this: how often have you received something in the mail like a bank statement that you’ve simply thrown out? These documents could then be found later on by someone sifting through the trash. The same can be said for sensitive documents that are left out in the open in the office. Another thing to note is that physical documents don’t have access logs that can tell you if they’ve been examined by unapproved users, making digital storage arguably a better option for managing risk.

Never Leave Workstations Unattended
There is a lot that can go wrong when you don’t protect your organization’s workstations with passwords. While the threat of a coworker attempting a harmless prank by messing with your settings isn’t necessarily malicious, there is always the chance that someone will gain access to sensitive data that they’re not supposed to see. This risk can include non-employees that find their way into your office.

Equip Your Business with Enterprise-Level Security Solutions
While you can enforce all the best practices that you want, do you know how to handle a data breach? One of the most important parts of protecting your sensitive data is to implement security solutions like firewalls and antivirus to keep threats out of your network. You can implement a Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution, which includes enterprise-level firewall, antivirus, spam-blocking, and content-filtering solutions to maximize your resistance to data breaches.

Train Your Employees on What to Look For
Ever since email became a thing, there have been scammers out there who want to take advantage of unaware employees and regular PC users. While the best spam blocking solution available will help to ensure most spam doesn’t make it to your inbox, the messages that do could be targeted spear phishing attempts designed to trick your users. To protect against these, train your employees to identify them. For example, is the message is unsolicited? Does it ask for sensitive information? Does it come from an email address that you have on file? Cross-checking these details is an important practice that your business can’t afford to overlook.

Are you ready to take the next steps toward protecting your business’s identity? To learn more about our proactive security services, reach out to White Mountain IT Services at 603-889-0800.

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