Mixing Business and Pleasure: Data Storage in the Digital Age

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How can companies instill in their employees a greater sense of responsibility? How do you prevent data from getting into the wrong hands?

In the old days, a businesses big concern might have been that of employees using the company car for personal trips; causing needless wear and tear, and possibly getting in a car wreck, all in the name of personal activities.

Nowadays, companies face a bigger problem but along the same lines: employees mixing personal online activity with business when their company gives them smartphones and tablets for business use.

Businesses recognize the advantages of supplying employees with company-owned devices, as these keep employees connected to the company without having to physically be there.

Mixing Personal and Business

Employees are very prone to using these company-issued devices for personal activities, especially if they don’t own any such devices. Surveys keep showing this to be the case, including one of 2,000 office workers nationwide, as reported at eweek.com.

  • 73 percent of the survey participants admitted to downloading apps and software to company-issued tablets for personal use.
  • 62 percent admitted to this same behavior with the company-issued smartphone.
  • 45 percent did it with the notebooks.
  • Most of the personal downloaded items were things like Dropbox and iTunes.
  • In an interesting twist, some participants reported doing company work on their personal devices: 37 percent reported storing company data on their own notebook; for personal smartphones and tablets, the figures were 12 and 8 percent, respectively. Among the participants, employees ages 18 to 24 were most likely to do this.

Related Article: Cyber Attacks & Data Leaks: Do You Need Data Breach Insurance?

As you can see, the line is very fuzzy between mixing work with personal activities. And why are the biggest offenders young adults?

A logical explanation is that people in this age group were born practically with an iPad and smartphone in their hands; yet for people over 30, these devices weren’t around during their childhood or even young adulthood... Of course, older workers in general may also have more intuitive responsibility, but the blaring explanation seems to be related more to what people grow up with.

Companies are faced with a vexing problem, because on one hand, it’s important that employees have a way to conduct business while away from the workplace, including business-related travel.

On the other hand, how can companies instill in their employees a greater sense of responsibility and greater appreciation for security and safety? Training is required on all levels. Usually, workers don’t intend to be careless; they just don’t realize how risky things can be.

Onsite Data Storage

Decision makers in companies may also think that the more data they have stored in their onsite systems, the more at risk they are of some kind of breach. Over time, a business is sure to accumulate tons of data that seems no longer useful.

Related Article: Top 10 Cloud Storage Services for Business

But businesses shouldn’t be quick to discard “old” data, especially if it’s of a sensitive nature. Accumulated but no-longer-needed data could be anything from client/customer information, product information and employee information, including that of former employees.

A company just never knows when it may need this “old” information. Reams of seemingly outdated data can be even converted to disks and stored offsite. But ultimately, it will probably be so much easier just to keep old sensitive records in electronic form. Just make sure that it’s impossible for unauthorized people to get into these files.

  • All data, whether new, old or seemingly no longer relevant, should be backed up.
  • Data retention policies should include “expiration dates” for when old data is no longer useful.
  • Companies that opt to delete sensitive data should realize that simply hitting “delete” and sending to the recycle bin does not truly delete the data. Skilled hackers can actually get ahold of “deleted” information.
  • To truly delete files, you must physically destroy the hard drive and discard it in the trash. If you want to “erase” data on a disk, don’t rely on scratching it; there may still be readable remnants. Rather, burn it (literally) or shear it up.

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