Posted: December 02, 2016

Noordwijkerhout, 28 November 2016 – Dutch SMEs are leaving themselves open to  data breaches by not correctly disposing of electronic equipment while many divert their attention to tackling other risks such as cybercrime, a leading information security company has warned.

Research from Shred-it reveals that half of Dutch SMEs (50%) dispose of electronic devices containing confidential information less than once a year. In fact, over a quarter (28%) of SMEs said that they don’t destroy hard drives, instead storing or reusing them. However, redundant electronic devices left lying in the workplace, such as old computers, laptops and USBs, often contain confidential information that could lead to an accidental or malicious data breach . A data breach leaves organisations open to significant financial, legal and reputational damage, Shred-it said.

If a data breach occurs, Dutch businesses are obliged to report it, according to a new law which came into effect on January 1st of this year. When failing to report within the terms of the law, a penalty of up to 820.000 euros is imposed. Nearly a year after the Dutch law has taken effect, less than one quarter (24%) of SMEs are aware of this law and the penalty involved.

“Businesses are focusing more and more on cybersecurity, often while neglecting the risks posed by physical electronic devices. Old laptops or USB sticks are often stored away in office basements, without many SMEs realising that these contain a wealth of valuable information for data thieves to cause detrimental damage,” Bob Slikkerveer, District Sales Manager Netherlands & Belgium, said.

Slikkerveer added, “From legal penalties to the financial cost of sorting out the aftermath, Dutch SMEs have a lot to lose from a data breach. But it’s the damage to reputation that can really harm smaller organisations if client or employee information is exposed. Loss of customer confidence can be rapid and devastating for a business that has worked hard to build a good name.” 

The only way to ensure complete removal of electronic data stored on devices is to physically destroy the device itself. Simply deleting information or degaussing the device is not a guarantee that any data cannot be restored, Shred-it said. Despite this, only one third (31%) of SMEs physically destroy their electronic devices while a further 41% rely on wiping or degaussing their devices.

Shred-it called on Dutch SMEs to make sure that they are destroying and disposing of electronic devices regularly to prevent the loss of confidential information, and the subsequent potential reputational and financial damage, and legal repercussions. 


Notes to editors
Three Simple Workplace Guidelines Designed to Safeguard Hard Drives: 
  • Perform regular clear outs of storage facilities and avoid stockpiling unused hard drives
  • Physically destroy all unused hard drives at the end of their useful lives. Using a third-party provider who has a secure chain of custody and provides written confirmation of destruction, can help give you peace of mind and ensure your data is being kept out of the hands of fraudsters
  • Regularly review your organisation’s information security policy to incorporate new and emerging forms of electronic media
What types of electronic media can be destroyed?
  • Hard Drives (from laptops, desktops, servers, copiers and more)
  • Backup Magnetic Tapes (any type e.g. DLT, mini cartridges)
  • Floppy Disk (3.5 inch disk, 5.25 inch disks, and many more)
  • Zip Disk (100 MB, 250 MB, and other large disks)
  • Optical Media (CDs, DVDs, Blue Ray, and HD DVD)
About the survey
Market research firm Kien conducted a quantitative online survey of 311 executives within Dutch SMEs (size of organization between 2 and 250 employees). The fieldwork was conducted between 18 October and 27 October 2016.

About Shred-it:
Shred-it is a world-leading information security company providing information destruction services that ensure the security and integrity of our clients' private information. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the US based business to business services company Stericycle, Shred-it operates in 170 markets throughout 18 countries worldwide, servicing more than 400,000 global, national and local businesses. For more information, please visit www.shredit.nl

For further information contact:
Stephanie de Ridder
Phone: +31 70 312 1070
Email: SdRidder@webershandwick.com

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