From small businesses to huge multinationals, fraud is one of the most significant security threats facing businesses in the UK today. In fact, according to recent estimates, fraud sets the UK back an eye-watering £73bn every year. £45.5bn of this gargantuan loss affects businesses in the private sector.
Intellectual property fraud, fictitious invoicing, falsified expenses, tax evasion, and theft of stock – corporate fraud has many different guises, which makes detecting and preventing it extremely tricky. Yet more often than not, the ultimate source of the fraud is pretty predictable. In the vast majority of cases fraud comes from inside the company. So how can you work to improve vigilance, protect your sensitive data and cut back on insider fraud in your business?
Use a free fraud and company checking tool
One good first step is to make use of a free ‘company check’ service. It might feel a bit ‘Big Brother’ to undertake this level of background check on employees and potential partners in your business, but compared to the cost of serious fraud within your company, getting hold of detailed information about your co-workers is a small price to pay.
The information these free company checkers offer isn’t personal or invasive. Instead they offer details of any CCJs (County Court Judgements), multiple business name changes in a short space of time, incidences of bankruptcy and other information which should serve as a warning sign before you take on a new team member. If examples of this type of activity appear in their fraud or company check, you may need to ask yourself “Can I trust this person to handle sensitive data in my business?”
More mobility, more risk
Yet it’s not just intentional insider fraud that you need to look out for. The rapid increase in technological mobility is one recent development which could lead to your employees endangering your company’s data. From BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to sharing sensitive data via the Cloud, it’s very difficult to monitor usage and follow best practice when it comes to keeping your information safe online and on the move. Mobile network EE recently conducted research which showed that in excess of 10 million mobile devices were lost by UK employees in 2013. That’s 10 million smartphones, laptops and tablets in just 12 months. This figure is a clear indication of the risk mobility poses to your business’s data and security.
Keeping sensitive data safe
So how can you keep your business’s data and devices safe from external eyes? First, take a look at Thruinc who provides fast and secure file transfers for several reputable businesses. Further research from EE showed that 19% of participants who had lost a device, did so while out on the tiles. Although wining, dining and socialising with clients and connections is a big part of corporate life, this scenario is extremely avoidable. Encourage employees to have a work device and a personal device and, if this is not possible, ensure that all devices with access to company data have correct security measures in place including:
- Using a secure screen lock
- Having the latest operating system (OS)
- Using secondary lock codes and vault apps where required
- Downloading good antivirus software
Human error: Unavoidable?
As you’ll no doubt come to realise, human error is impossible to avoid altogether. Whether you overlook a red flag in an employee’s background check, or your sales rep has her BlackBerry stolen when she falls asleep on the train, mistakes do happen. The very best you can do is to increase vigilance and increase information. The more information you have about your employees and the more information your employees have about keeping data safe, the less risk your company data will be exposed to.
What steps to you take to ensure your company data is in safe hands? Do you have concerns about your team having sensitive company information on their mobile devices? Share your thoughts with our readers below.