More than half of employees fail to protect their data

A ComRes poll revealed that while 71% of employees have been able to see or read what someone is working on over their shoulder, 53% do not always take precautions to protect consumer’s private, confidential and sensitive information that they are working on from being overlooked – either in the office or in public places such as coffee shops, trains and aeroplanes.

This is leaving individuals’ personal data and organizations’ commercially sensitive information vulnerable to theft and abuse.

The poll supports research carried out for a recent paper on visual data security by Secure, which revealed that whilst 90% of IT security professionals were aware of the threat posed by a visual data security breach, 82% had little or no confidence that their organization’s employees take steps to protect their data from being viewed whilst working in a public environment.

Despite spending nearly £40 billion a year on protecting data from hackers and other cyber threats, organizations are overlooking the Achilles heel of visual data security and are leaving individuals’ personal data vulnerable.

With the rapid rise of mobile working, the risk to an organization of a visual data security breach is growing exponentially. The issue has been compounded by the increasing use of digital camera phones which enable unauthorized individuals to capture sensitive information.

Information Security expert Brian Honan, author of the white paper, said: “With the frequency and innovative nature of data attacks rising, organizations must ensure that the defenses they have in place protect against all potential data breaches and not just some. All organizations have an obligation to both their employees and customers to be as secure as they possibly can be”.

The severity of the threat has been recognized by the government, which has revealed in response to parliamentary questions that it already employs a range of measures to prevent a visual data security breach. Departments such as the HM Treasury already ensure that “all new staff are made aware of the importance of visual data security in their induction training”.

The Data Protection Act obliges companies to take all possible steps to protect personal data – including measures to guard against a visual data security breach. There are organizations in the private sector who are already leading best practice in visual data security – Barclays Bank for example utilizes computer privacy panels (which restrict the field of view to the person directly in front of the computer) in branch to prevent against unauthorised access to confidential, personal data.

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