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How to Maintain Information Security With a Clean Desk Policy

Clean Office Desk
At a time of increased internal and external security threats, tidying up the office is not just about maintaining a professional appearance, but it is also about preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive documents. One way to minimize security breaches and comply with existing data protection regulations is to implement a clean desk policy.

Read on to learn more about clean desk policies and ways to implement such a policy in your office.

Define a Clean Desk Policy

A clean desk policy (CDP) is an agile working concept that requires employees to leave their desks free of clutter, including papers and electronics, at the end of the workday. Originally, managers used CDPs as part of lean management principles to minimize clutter and enhance efficiency.

CDPs can also serve a security purpose. By encouraging employees to safely store everything away at the end of the workday, a CDP helps to perpetuate an office culture that prioritizes information security. Additionally, a CDP can ensure compliance with existing laws such as the Data Protection Act, HIPPA, GBL Act, and ISO 27001, among others.

Elucidate Security Risks

Employee buy-in is important for the successful implementation of a CDP. To get employees on board with the policy, train them on internal security threats, their impact, and ways to anticipate such threats.

Employees will be more willing to implement and comply with the policy when they understand the real security risks the organization faces.

Develop a Working Document

Outline employee expectations in a written contract. A good CDP will require employees to:
  • Safely store hard and soft copy information at the end of each workday
  • Shut down and lock computers and laptops at the end of each workday
  • Keep cabinets closed when not in use
  • Apply best practices when handling cabinet keys
  • Store passwords safely
  • Remove printed documents with confidential information from the printer
  • Place documents in designated disposal bins for shredding
  • Erase whiteboards with confidential information
Employees should clearly understand these expectations and responsibilities through training.

Assign Responsibilities

In addition to outlining employee requirements, appoint individuals to ensure successful implementation and compliance with the policy. For example, require the office supervisor or manager to check office desks at the end of each workday. Designate someone to monitor, evaluate, and report the policy's success.

Create Inclusivity

Accommodate the needs of employees. Some employees need more visual cues due to the nature of their work and maintaining a completely clean desk might not be feasible.

Outline an information security policy for employees who may not always be able to store away items and bring them out at the start of the day. Ensure compliance, continuous monitoring, and evaluation of this policy as well.

Track Compliance

Outline how you will ensure compliance. This may be in the form of audits, employee feedback, and video surveillance, among other methods. You should also establish consequences for non-compliance. Ensure that employees understand that the CDP is a management-level ordinance and that non-compliance may attract penalties.

Work With a Professional Shredder

A shredding service provider can support the implementation of your CDP. A professional shredder uses robust equipment to pulverize documents, hard drives, and other IT material. Ultimately, professional shredding ensures complete destruction of sensitive materials and prevents the unnecessary accumulation of documents on office desks and inside cabinets.

Seemingly inconsequential actions such as leaving documents lying around on office desks can actually result in major security breaches. Although some argue that CDPs stifle creativity, such policies, if properly implemented, can minimize security threats that would otherwise put a dent in your business.

At Shred Defense™, we are conversant with national and global requirements for protecting consumer information. If you are looking to implement a clean desk policy, you can look to us for professional shredding and pulverization of sensitive documents and media. Get in touch with us today to discuss your document shredding needs.

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