Most business owners will take the appropriate measures to securely destroy sensitive paperwork and data after the pertinent holding timeframe has elapsed. This serves as a legal requirement and a form of corporate security.
After all, protecting items once they’re defunct or no longer required is critical to defending your business from a data breach and your employees from identity theft — to name just two potential threats.
Sensitive paperwork like invoices, payroll information and contracts, as well as electronic devices like hard drives and laptops, will typically be top-of-mind when considering secure document and data destruction in a corporate setting. And while these items should, of course, be securely destroyed, there are some lesser-considered items that business owners should add to their secure destruction policies.
USBs — otherwise known as flash drives or memory sticks — are regularly used to transfer data from machine to machine. Once hailed as a revolutionary device for data storage, USBs are slowly being phased out in corporate settings due to the heightened potential for security risks that come with using them. There’s a very real danger of transferring a virus through a USB. And employees can easily lose or misplace the devices in the office, at home or in public.
In addition, it’s unwise to merely format the drive, then throw it into e-recycling: this retains the possibility that someone could recover the data. For those reasons, securing the help of a specialized data destruction team is strongly advised. Professional teams will safely destroy all flash drives, rendering them useless and the data unrecoverable.
2. Old Presentations
Once you’ve completed a corporate presentation, be it a pitch to investors or an internal team training seminar, destroying tangible paper copies of the slides or of handouts can help keep corporate secrets, secret — protecting your business from corporate espionage.
For example, should a presentation that pitches a new product or ideal and with a corporate rival, they may learn of your future plans and projections. They may even gain insights into who your suppliers are and your employee training strategies. The takeaway is: even if the assets are meant for an in-person meeting or part of a group discussion, don’t forget to destroy any digital and physical copies once you no longer need them.
3. Corporate Cellphones
Business cell phones are frequently used for logging in to work email accounts, downloading corporate files, and storing client contact information — so it goes without saying that any one of these sources of information could be mined for intelligence to use against you. Those with access to company phones could access files to leak data, steal intellectual property, hold information ransom, or exploit contact lists.
Once a cellphone is obsolete, it must be securely destroyed to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. Much like USBs, simply clearing the device won’t suffice. In many instances, when you delete the data, it’s not actually gone. According to a digital forensic specialist, “in short, there is no sure way of deleting data from mobile devices except their physical destruction.”
The Takeaway on Corporate Destruction
While some forms of paperwork and electronic devices will immediately spring to mind if you’re considering shredding by an external team, others can be overlooked. By carefully reviewing your corporate destruction policy from every angle, you’re minimizing the potential for a data breach at your business and ensuring that information never falls into the wrong hands.