The future growth and success of your company could very well be destroyed should this data get leaked. So what’s the biggest threat for a data leak happening? Your employees. That’s right, employee’s sending sensitive information accounts for almost all of the data leaks to businesses across the globe, even more so than external factors like hackers and cyber attacks. So you’re probably wondering: How can I actually keep my employees from sharing our information, whether it be on purpose or accidentally? Simple: The only way to keep company data safe is to prevent it from getting out in the first place. In today’s post, we’re going to give you a step-by-step guide to reduce the risk of data leakage and keep your business running smoothly. What counts as “sensitive information”? Data is noted as the most valuable company asset; even more so than physical or human capital. Tech Target defines business information as: “Sensitive business information includes anything that poses a risk to the company in question if discovered by a competitor or the general public.” But, you might be wondering, “What does company data really entail?” Data could be a mix of things, depending on the company. Most often it includes: Trade Secrets Acquisition Plans Financial Data Supplier and Client Information Employee Information And this is only to name a few… How can I know which employees are at risk of sharing? To be quite frank, you can’t. Unless you have already had a leak and been able to trace it back to a single employee, the only thing you can do is prepare and train everyone. Luckily, it isn’t as hard as it sounds. Dell shared the reasoning for employee’s sharing sensitive information as Directed to do so by management Sharing with a person authorized to receive it The risk is very low and the benefit high It will help them do their job more effectively It will help the recipient do their job more effectively How do you train your employees? Here’s 3 easy steps: 1. Implement proper business procedures. A great deal of company data is leaked because companies don’t have established policies in place that outline how employees should retrieve, send, and store sensitive information. Companies also need to define what actually counts as “sensitive material”. (This should pretty much be anything that we listed above.) Making these policies clear to employees helps employees understand that company data is important and should be handled with care and security. 2. Provide the right resources. Dell’s poll also showcased that nearly half of all the individuals they profiled used personal emails (cloud-based) to send and receive work emails. This non-secure transporting of sensitive information is a huge liability to company data. Companies need to not only provide but enforce the use of tools to handle and encrypt sensitive information. Step one of this would be making sure all employees are using a properly secured email system. 3. Put data and IT strategy at the heart of your company. If you didn’t notice, (or have been living under a rock for the past 20 years) all companies are digitized. All information — files, plans, etc — are kept within the confines of a digital storage unit (usually the cloud). This means protecting and securing this information is perhaps the most important thing businesses do, after picking their name of course. I can’t stress this enough: Implementing a trustworthy and reliable IT system to protect your information could mean the difference between soaring or failing as a company.