Lost documents, portable devices at fault for majority of data breaches


Even as fears of information security breaches rise, the most prominent data protection challenges facing today’s businesses are due to relatively traditional technologies, according to a recent study. In a survey conducted by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA), respondents reported that 65 percent of data breaches could be attributed to the loss of paper files or portable memory devices.


According to the survey, 59 percent of respondents reported their organization had experienced a data breach survey in the previous year, with 37 percent suffering from multiple incidents. Additionally, the majority of these breaches were caused by rank and file employees.


“Once again we find that an overwhelming number of data breaches are caused by employees’ poor handling of paper and devices,” said SCCE and HCCA CEO Roy Snell. “If we put as much effort into our internal compliance program as we do in technical security we would be more effective at preventing data breaches.”


The report comes in the wake of two high-profile data loss incidents in the Canadian government. In one instance, the federal Human Resources and Skills Development department announced it had lost a USB stick with the personal data of 5,000 Canadians. When the department followed up on the incident, it also discovered that it had lost a portable hard drive containing information such as names and social insurance numbers of 585,000 student loan borrowers.


To mitigate the danger of such physical data loss, companies can modernize document management with cloud computing solutions and hosted collaboration tools. By working with a managed services provider to establish a central document management tool, organizations can move data off end user devices and into the cloud, where it can be better protected. Shifting from paper to digital files not only reduces the risk of physical loss but also unlocks new potential for collaboration.