Cyber Security Tips for Employees: Keep a clean desk!

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Keeping a clean desk is so often overlooked when it comes to data security. It’s also the perfect place to start the discussion with your employees.

Employees that keep a cluttered desk tend to leave USB drives, laptops and smartphones out in the open.

A messy desk also makes it more difficult to realize something is missing such as a folder with hard copy print-outs of customer lists. In addition to increasing the likelihood of something being removed, a cluttered desk means that the discovery of any theft will likely be delayed—perhaps by days or even weeks if the employee is out of the office. Such delays make it more difficult to determine who the perpetrator is and where the stolen material might now be located.

Encouraging employees to maintain a neat desk pays off in two ways. In addition to making digital and paper assets more secure, employees with clean desks are more apt to be productive because they can quickly—and safely—access the tools and resources they need to do their jobs.

The 5 Most Common Messy Desk Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Leaving computer screens on without password protection: Anyone passing by has easy access to all the information on the device; be sure to lock down screen settings.
  2. Forgetting to shred documents before they go into the trash or recycling bin: Any document may contain sensitive information; it’s best to shred everything rather than taking a risk.
  3. Failing to close file cabinets: This makes it easy for someone to steal sensitive information and more difficult to realize a theft has occurred.
  4. Setting mobile phones and USB drives out in the open: They likely contain sensitive business or personal information and are easy to pick up quickly without being caught in the act.
  5. Writing user names and passwords on slips of paper or post-its: This is especially important given that user names and passwords are typically used to log in to more than one site.

In today’s fast-paced world where employees are always on the go, it takes too much time to determine whether documents, USB drives, devices and other items contain sensitive information. The safe bet is to make sure everything is filed away and kept locked up or else properly destroyed.

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