Information Security – don’t forget about paper

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking to a lot of small businesses about Information Security. Every time I get a reaction along the lines of ‘it’s an IT issue’. That is part of it, but information exists in different formats and media, and anything sensitive needs protecting. What you need is a good example of a security breach involving something on paper, so they can start to see the bigger picture. One happened on 24 September when an official was photographed entering Downing Street with a report setting out options for selling off Channel 4. By using this example, I found people got the point very quickly and usually started to list out paper records they hold that need protecting.

A term I came across recently was ‘visual hacking’, it used to be called ‘reading over your shoulder’. This happens when an unauthorised user can see the information you are reading. It could be documents in a public place such as a bus or train, when you are working at home or in the office. If you have something sensitive to read, check others cannot see it. If you cannot protect it, then wait until you are in a location where it can be protected.

To be secure, you need to consider all assets – physical and electronic – and implement appropriate measures to protect them. Educate staff about this, and issue reminders on a regular basis. A good way to do this is using examples of security breaches made by others.