Before you declare your organization's sensitive data to be safe, you'd better check your trash. Several companies didn't during the past week, and they're paying the price:
- In Alabama, employees at Hancock Fabric are livid after personnel records dating back to 2005 were found in a dumpster. The company apologized to current and former employees, and said the documents were disposed of improperly.
- In Ohio, a man who bought some old file cabinets was surprised to find personnel documents of state employees still in the drawers. The information included Social Security numbers, medical histories, and salary information. The state says it is informing the affected employees who were affected by the data loss, and is attempting to find the careless employee who left the files in the drawers when the cabinets were cycled out.
- In Florida, Sarasota police responded to a complaint from a hair-salon worker who found dozens of personnel records from a nearby staffing company in a dumpster behind the salon. The staffing company's office apparently had been shuttered, and the records were dumped in the trash.
Security experts say such dumping could become more frequent as the economy forces companies to close their doors, with little care paid to old records. Most states do not have disclosure laws regarding paper data loss, so incidents such as these often go unreported, they note.
Companies should review their policies for the disposal of sensitive documents, and do checks to ensure that the policies are being followed, experts say.
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