Skip to main content

Convenience versus security

Portable storage devices, such as USBs, have now existed for over 20 years. In this time we have witnessed the birth of the information age. This has brought the importance of data management to the fore.

Portable storage devices may be a convenient method for transporting documents but they can give rise to security problems. These can be fixed using encryption. But here you are only addressing a symptom rather than the root cause of the problem: the way employees access data.

Recently, Heathrow Airport was fined £120,000 due to an employee losing a USB drive which contained sensitive personal data like passport details.

This drive was not encrypted or password protected. Likewise, Heathrow Airport was found to have only trained 2% of its staff in data protection.

It is easy to focus on the security of the physical device, “surely the USB should have been encrypted”, rather than the fundamental issue.

How do you want your staff to access the valuable data your business holds?

When defining what you want your employees to do using policies, procedures, and training, it is important to not ignore that convenience will also drive behaviour.

This begs the question: what is making employees store important files on devices like USB drives?

The risk here is not only security but the creation of information silos and a lack of version control. Who has access to the master document? And what is the most up to date version?

There are cases of purchasing departments negotiating a contract for a discount but other departments being unaware of it and continuing to buy at list price.

Improving accessibility to files is vital for employee productivity.

This is more about information management than device management.

Information management systems, like Invu’s Document Management software, control access to data while making it easy for employees with the right credentials to do their jobs.

This removes the need for employees to stockpile data on devices like USBs, in separate file stores such as Dropbox, or sending data to email.

Meanwhile, you can also add value by providing an audit trail. This allows your business to know what files have been accessed by who, and what changes have been made.

The best way to achieve compliance with company policies is to make it convenient for the right employees to have access to the right information at the right time, that’s when they need it.