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Save for the word “security”, you’d be forgiven for thinking that physical and cyber security have little in common. But that’s not the case – the two are very much interlinked, and having good physical security protocols in place can be one of the best defences against cyber security threats.

Physical security is more than security guards. It includes CCTV surveillance, protective barriers, locks and access control. Because physical data theft – the theft of computers, laptops, portable electronic devices, electronic media and paper files – is one of the most common security breaches, having good physical security practices in place can often be all that’s standing between you and a data breach.

In 2006 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hit the headlines when it emerged that sensitive unencrypted data pertaining to 26.5 million discharged veterans and their families had gone missing. The data was stolen from an employee who had taken it home even though he did not have permission to do so. The cost of preventing and covering losses from the data breach was estimated to be between $100 million and $500 million.

Unfortunately, this story is not a one off. Employee-related data breaches are on the rise. Intentional employee data theft or data destruction is one of the biggest cyber security threats, and usually takes place in the run up or just after an employee’s contract has been terminated. Unintentional employee-related data breaches, such as the Veterans Affairs breach, are also common, and are the result of careless or reckless behaviour. And, though less common, people outside of your business – competitors, activists and criminals – may also stand to benefit from stealing your data.

Good physical security practice will reduce the likelihood of all physical security breaches occurring. Businesses dealing with sensitive data should:

  1. Ensure proper physical security of electronic and physical restricted data
    • Lock down workstations and laptops
    • Secure your work environment, files and equipment when unattended
    • Conceal sensitive papers, computers and other electronic devices when left in an empty office
    • Encrypt all data
    • Shred paper records when they’re no longer needed
    • Lock laptops in or to something permanent when unattended
  2. Delete personal identity information and other restricted data when it is no longer needed
  3. Report any suspected data breaches to the ICO.

If your organisation regularly deals with sensitive data, you may want to consider professional corporate security or office security. Having uniformed guards on-site to monitor CCTV, manage access control and rapidly respond to any security issues will not only deter criminals, but will also increase the likelihood of any breaches being disrupted if/when they occur. A good security provider will integrate with your organisation’s culture and work in tandem with any existing security procedures to keep data maximally protected.

At Churchill Security, all our guard have undergone data protection training as part of our Training Quality Management System. We provide effective corporate and office security packages to businesses of any size. Get in touch to find out how we can help you!  

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John Melling is a Director for Churchill Security Ltd. John is a highly motivated, determined and decisive security industry professional. Drawing on his extensive experience gained within the security industry whilst working on the coalface John has operated at all levels within the industry. He has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.