Data and privacy

Why clearing your digital clutter can boost your office’s data security defenses

Disorganized data can pose a serious cybersecurity risk. Here’s why a simple spring-clean could give your business’s data security an extra layer of defense.

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If you work in a digital environment, you know what it’s like. Creating and storing sensitive documents every day, then sharing them with colleagues, suppliers, suppliers’ employees… The list goes on. But did you know that without adequate encryption, access rights and secure storage, these documents can threaten your company’s data security? We call it digital clutter – disorganized data that, left unchecked, can help hackers access your systems and expose your business’s confidential customer and personal data.

Let’s take a look at why digital clutter can expose your business and what you can do about it.

Why a fridge can talk about the threat of digital clutter

I’ll explain more after this video of comedian Josh Pieters pulling a (related) office prank.

Imagine a fridge. Filled with glorious, unlabeled and – in some cases – rotting food. Now, without those labels and someone to regulate what goes in or out – or a system to get rid of the dangerously out-of-date goods – people are free to take whatever they please. While that might be great (or not) for a hungry chancer, it’s not good for the owner of the food. Or, in this case, the owner of the files – your business.

Payroll information, photos of your cat, blueprints for a takeover or acquisition – whatever is on your server or cloud, it’s easy for hackers or angry ex-employees to use it against you if not labeled, organized or encrypted properly.

How digital clutter can affect data security

Imagine: a group email chain at work. You bought a few people pizza last week. You send your bank details out for these lucky colleagues to pay you back. Has everyone deleted the email with your banking information? Probably not. This could leave your company, and your bank account, open to a cyberattack.

Or your recent news of a pay rise. Congratulations! Have you stored the details somewhere safe on the server or the cloud? Is it password protected? If not, there’s a high chance that one of your team members could find it. Swap the word ‘team member’ for ‘organized hacker’ and there’s a problem.

Organized hackers, malicious insiders, disgruntled ex-employees: digital clutter can help any of them to compromise your data security. There’s also a chance that exposing your business’s customer or personal data could lead to prosecution under local data regulations, like GDPR. The good news? You can skip all that stress with a few simple steps.

Sort out your digital clutter today

For the IT managers or IT security managers amongst you, we recommend telling your employees about the risks of digital clutter. Why? Because education is the most powerful form of defense. According to Kaspersky’s Dmitry Aleshin, training your colleagues on how to prevent digital clutter will help you find your digital feng shui.

Every employee – from accounts to IT – should be trained on how to share files safely, encrypt important documents and avoid phishing emails. If not, your business is at risk.

Dmitry Aleshin

VP of Product Marketing, Kaspersky

In a nutshell: for every digital document and folder, you need to consider who has access, how long for and whether it needs to be encrypted. Customer data and financial plans, for example, need encrypting to the highest level. Bonus tip: just because you’ve lost a device or it’s been stolen, it still needs encrypting, which a lot of endpoint security products offer.

Find out more about the issue and how to fix it in Kaspersky’s report on digital clutter. You can find a bucketload of stats to impress your colleagues with and help them secure their personal data. Lunchtimes will never be the same again.

Clean up your digital clutter

Read Kaspersky’s report on digital clutter to find out how to detangle and secure your business data.

About authors

Ryan Loftus is a freelance writer specializing in topics like technology, climate change, and the future of agriculture. He's interested in farming advancements and how they can help combat global warming.