Under lock & key
(This article appeared in Prep School Magazine and School Equipment News)
Jim Watson, the managing director of Shred Easy one of the UK’s largest shredding companies, warns that schools could face huge fines if they fail to destroy their written records:
The general public needs to be assured that data is properly looked after as there are so many press scare stories about confidential data escaping into the public domain, causing anything from fraud and theft to embezzlement.
My ten top tips for to prevent security leaks in schools are as follows:
1) Create a confidential data policy – if you don’t have one already you are already in the high risk category for being a victim of data theft.
2) Store data safely – don’t assume that bagging it up is the end of the matter. Criminals have rich pickings outside schools and colleges where confidential data has been poorly disposed.
3) Destroy data properly – shred all confidential data. Arrange for a professional company to help store, collect and securely destroy information. Ensure you know where your data is heading, even better work with an on-site shredding company.
4) Check identities – use credit reference agencies to verify the identity of preferred suppliers to your school.
5) Secure your accounts – don’t allow details of banking to escape into the public domain. Thieves are well adept at impersonating signatures.
6) Inform staff – train staff on how to deal with confidential data properly and monitor their behaviour. Most public sector fraud is committed by people within the organisation.
7) Keep post safe – theft of post is a major issue for local authorities. Scammers may try to redirect your mail without your knowledge.
8) Restrict key documents – don’t allow staff to have full access to authority documents. This applies to paper and digital data.
9) Use anti virus software – public sector workers still get fleeced by online scammers. Installing credible anti-virus software is necessary to combat this threat.
10) Beware of carrying large amounts of confidential data on laptops, data sticks or mobile devices such as Blackberry’s and iPhones. These small portable gadgets are magnets for thieves who can exploit your confidential information.
Schools are institutions that house a huge range of confidential electronic and hard copy data, everything from pupil’s records, registers, newsletters, reports and log books.
By law all companies and public sector organisations must now destroy their confidential data properly or face a penalty up to £500,000 imposed by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for breaching the Data Protection Act.
The most effective way to safeguard redundant confidential information stored and held on paper, PCs and/or laptops is by shredding it.
As a public sector institution schools have a moral and legal obligation to control confidential data to avoid fraud and personal information getting into the wrong hands.