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Why Professional Waste Removal Is Essential For Business Security

Every single day companies build up an inventory of items that will one day be redundant to them. While ordering a new uniform for staff is essential now, this will soon become out of date and irrelevant. Likewise, data from new customers, clients and employees will be useless if they move on to another firm; old technology dates quickly and needs to be replaced often; and labelled office stationery only lasts as long as you do not change your branding.  

There is always something companies need to get rid of, no matter how big or small. Therefore, it is essential to make sure you dispose of this waste carefully and securely, as it could damage your business if you do not.

But why is it so important to get rid of documents, media and clothing cautiously – why can’t you just throw outddated items in the bin like everything else? After all, if they are no longer important to you, why would they be useful to anyone else?

Well, there are several reasons why you should not discard old products, stationery and documents, as they could end up causing your business a huge security risk. In fact, it is often worth seeking professional confidential waste destruction services to make sure they are destroyed carefully, cautiously and correctly.

 

- What is the risk of not destroying items sensibly?

Firstly, any documents with personal data from clients, customers or staff cannot get into the wrong hands. If a fraudster is able to access information such as dates of birth, account details, credit card numbers, addresses, national insurance numbers and so on, they will be able to steal the subject’s identity.

This could lead to them creating fake passports, stealing money, using their name illegally and causing a lot of trouble for your clientele or employees. Subsequently, this will lead to a lot of trouble for you, as it is your reasonability to keep any information people provide to you safe.

In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect, which serves to protect people’s personal information and how it is used. These new regulations require businesses to destroy confidential information about their customers and clients they do not have permission to retain.

This, therefore, makes it illegal for organisations to hold or share personal details to third parties, and those who fail to comply will be obligated to pay hefty fines as a result. Businesses that have not adopted new GDPR practices should do so immediately to avoid paying up to four per cent of annual global turnover or 20 million (£17.77 million), whichever amount is greater.

 

  • Equifax breach

Last year, Equifax Inc was involved in a huge data breach, compromising information of more than 143 million consumers worldwide.

In September 2017, the credit reference agency’s US parent branch suffered a cyber attack online, which meant a file with over 15.2 million records of UK customers from 2011 to 2016 were accessed, as well as a huge number from America.

To mitigate against this breach, it had to write to nearly 900,000 consumers in Britain to inform them that their information, such as credit card details, email addresses, secret questions and answers and so on, was leaked in the attack.

Equifax Inc is now arguing that no injuries to its customers were caused, and therefore, it wants the class-action law suits against the business to be dismissed, ITBusiness.ca reports.

Indeed, it defended itself by saying it had no obligation to secure this data, which even included details of those accessing unemployment benefits. However, Norman Siegel, an attorney for the consumer plaintiffs, said this statement is “extraordinary”.

This is especially the case as, following the incident, Equifax came out in full force to apologise for the situation, telling consumers: “We are Equifax clearly understood that the collection of American consumer information and data carries with it enormous responsibility to protect that data. We did not live up to that responsibility.”

Therefore, this already sounds like an admission of guilt, and while the outcome of the court proceedings will not be revealed until the end of August, it is doubtful whether Equifax can get the law suits dismissed on the grounds it did not have a duty to protect customers’ information – even if this was prior to the GDPR legislation taking effect.

 

  • Financial impact

It is not just documents that need careful disposing of either, as other items and products can lead to major security breaches, from uniform and clothing to old CDs and hard drives.

While companies need to comply with data protection rules as their legal and moral responsibility, they should also do it to protect their finances.

Indeed, the fallout of the Equifax breach is likely to have cost the company heavily – not just from doing damage control following the incident, but also with regards to lost revenue due to its reputation taking a dive.

What’s more, if a fraudster is able to access the financial details of the business itself, it can tap into its accounts and steal money.

Even if they do not do it directly, they can still affect company’s profits by using out of date stock and selling it on the black market, resulting in fewer people buying the genuine article and hitting profit margins.

 

- What stock needs to be protected?

Therefore, it is wise to dispose of all your stock – from documents to products – carefully.

 

  • Old products

For instance, designer labels need to think carefully about how they get rid of old lines. Every season they bring in new products to fit in with – or even lead – fashion trends. However, if they cannot sell their old stock, it often becomes redundant.

Indeed, the Guardian recently reported that fashion brand Burberry destroyed a massive £28 million worth of their clothing and cosmetic stock over the last 12 months. While this caused controversy, as many people believe the label cannot justify causing so much waste, it has very important reasons for getting rid of its products safely and permanently.

As the newspaper reported, Burberry, along with many other labels, does this as it would compromise their intellectual property and, therefore, their income if they did not. This is because their goods could end up being sold illegally if they got into the wrong hands.

Although destroying goods is seen as wasteful, many fashion brands are trying to dispose in an ethical way. For instance, Burberry uses incinerators that “harness the energy from the process”.

Indeed, here at Avena Confidential, we have partnered with textile manufacturing and recycling organisations that allow us to destroy or recycle garments in an environmentally friendly way.

 

  • Outdated uniforms

Of course, it is not just un-bought goods that end up being disposed of, as uniforms constantly change and old ones need to be thrown away too. In this case, destroying these carefully is essential for the security of the organisation.

For instance, if someone got their hands on old uniform, they might be able to pass for an employee to the untrained eye and gain entry to buildings and access to protected information.

It is not just for the security of the business that uniforms need to be destroyed cautiously, but, in some cases, for the safety of the public too. If someone found an old police uniform, for example, they would instantly look like part of the force if they wore it.

Therefore, they would be able to take advantage of vulnerable members of society more easily, as people tend to trust those in uniforms. This could lead to all sorts of criminal activity, showing just how important it is to destroy these outfits very thoroughly.

The same goes for identity badges, lanyards and office passes. These all enable those without any authorisation to gain access to protected areas.

 

  • Technology

Media and old technology needs to be demolished to ensure company information does not find itself in the wrong hands. Of course, companies are most concerned about cyber security these days, and for good reason.

IBM’s 2018 Cost of a Data Breach report examined 477 companies and found the average impact of a data breach on an organisation globally was $3.86 million (£2.96 million), with more serious offences costing much more.

American firms might want to improve their security as a priority, as the findings revealed they typically spend $7.91 million on each data breach. This is comparison with British companies that have to pay $3.43 million on average instead.

While lots of information can be leaked from businesses online, they can also be accessed through poorly disposed of electrical equipment. Indeed, hard drives, laptops, PCs, routers, servers, DVDs and CDs all contain information that could provide just what a fraudster needs to hack into the system.

 

- Keep on top of waste disposal

It is essential to continue to stay on top of your company’s waste disposal regularly, and not just as a reaction to the updated GDPR legislation.

The Information Commissioner’s Office recently reported that the number of breaches surged from 400 in March and April this year to 1,750 in June, as GDPR took effect.

However, as Brian Honan, from BH Consulting in Dublin, told BankInfoSecurity.com, this does not actually mean fraudulent activity grew, but that they broke the new regulations.

“While the number of reported breaches has increased, it does not necessarily mean the number of breaches has increased – just that more are being reported,” he stated.

It is, therefore, wise to continue to remember to protect clients’ and customers’ personal information. However, it is also essential to dispose of waste sensibly to provide your company with financial security; to maintain your reputation; and, in some instances, to keep the public safe.

 

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