Shred-it Study Finds Seemingly Innocent Workplace Mistakes Put North American Businesses at Risk for Data Breaches

Two thirds (68%) of businesses reported their organization has experienced at least one data breach in the past 12 months, and nearly three in four (69%) of those data breaches involved the loss or theft of paper documents or electronic devices containing sensitive information. That is according to a new report from Shred-it “The Security of Confidential Documents in the Workplace,” conducted by the Ponemon Institute, which reveals the discrepancy in priority between cybersecurity and physical security, and the mistakes employees and managers make that may be contributing to a rise in data breaches.

According to the report, typical workplace occurrences may be at the root of the problem as 65% of managers are concerned their employees or contractors have printed and left behind a document that could lead to a data breach. Those fears have been confirmed as seven in 10 (71%) managers have seen or picked up confidential documents left in the printer. This seemingly innocent workplace mistake isn’t the only thing threatening information security, over three in four (77%) managers admit they have accidentally sent an email containing sensitive information to the wrong person. What’s more, nearly nine in 10 (88%) have received an email containing sensitive information from someone within or outside of their organization they were not intended to receive.

When exploring physical security versus cybersecurity, the report found that less than two in five (39%) managers believe the protection of paper documents is just as important as the protection of electronic records. This may be why more than half (51%) of managers say their organization does not have a process for disposing of paper documents containing sensitive information.