October 11, 2011 07:00 ET

Small Businesses Need Better Information Security for Continued Success

Shred-it's Information Security Tracker Research shows that nearly half of Canadian small businesses are not worried about the ramifications of a data breach

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 11, 2011) - When it comes to safeguarding their information, Canadian small businesses are in trouble. While October 17th- 22nd marks the 30th anniversary of Small Business Week, the 2011 Shred-it Information Security tracker shows that the small businesses' attitudes towards document security are no cause for celebration.

While small businesses may be small in size, their impact is enormous. Accounting for 98 per cent of the country's companies, small businesses have been a crucial driver of our nation's growth and have created jobs for millions of Canadians. However, today these organizations are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to preventing identity theft and fraud.

Results from Shred-it's 2011 Information Security Tracker show:

  • While 77 per cent of Canadian small businesses report that keeping business information secure was very important, 47 per cent are not worried about the potential consequences of a data breach.

  • 33 per cent report having no staff member designated to ensure document security in the business.

  • 27 of Canadian small businesses have never conducted a review of their organization's secure document destruction procedures.

  • 56 per cent of Canadian small businesses do not offer secure document destruction facilities within their organization.

According to the Ponemon Institute, a data breach costs on average $214 per stolen record. Aside from the financial implications, fraud can diminish a company's trust and credibility, and can put a small business's reputation severely at risk.

An easy way to safeguard your information is to destroy confidential records, but not all document or data destruction methods are created equal. While some may turn to the use of personal or office shredders to dispose of their documents, these machines tend to shred paper into ribbons, which can be pieced back together using computer software. Furthermore, it takes an employee on average five hours to shred 50 pounds of paper, and without having the luxury of resources and capital that many larger companies have, this is time that most small businesses simply cannot afford.

"The results of the Information Security Tracker demonstrate that small businesses need to take greater precautions when it comes to protecting their information," says Michael Collins, Vice President Canada at Shred-it. "These organizations are often trying to do more with less to compete with larger businesses, and because of this it's crucial that they take the necessary steps to protect themselves from data breaches, identity theft and fraud."

To help mitigate the risks associated with document exposure, Shred-it recommends the following tactics:

  • Ask yourself: Are you at risk? Conduct a security audit or use Shred-it's online self-assessment tool to determine your security levels and needs at
  • Purge your office: Ensure that documents are disposed of as soon as they are no longer needed.
  • Keep your staff in the know: Train employees on proper document management and security protocols and develop a comprehensive policy.
  • Shred, shred, shred: Enact a shred-all policy by requiring employees to place all unneeded documents into a locked console that is then retrieved by a professional for shredding.
    • The following business documents should be stored securely and destroyed securely:
      • Customer lists
      • Sales statistics
      • Personnel files
      • Account records
      • Credit card receipts
      • Medical records
      • Outdated business records
  • Configure passwords to protect wireless networks and use unique passwords for secure sites (ensure these passwords include numbers or capitalized letters).
  • Don't overlook hard drives on computers or photocopiers - Erasing your hard drive does not mean that the data is gone. Physical hard drive destruction is proven to be the only 100% secure way to destroy data from hard drives permanently.

"The success of small businesses is key to the continued development and growth of the Canadian economy," says Collins. "But to maintain their successes, small businesses need to arm themselves with the tools and procedures to protect their organizations from potentially devastating crimes."

About Shred-it

Shred-it is a world-leading information security company providing document destruction services that ensure the security and integrity of our clients' private information. The company operates 140 service locations in 16 countries worldwide, servicing more than 150,000 global, national and local businesses, including the world's top intelligence and security agencies, more than 500 police forces, 1,500 hospitals, 8,500 bank branches and 1,200 universities and colleges. For more information, please visit

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