Protect non-digital data too in defence against hackers

I refer to the report by Mr Lim Jun Han (A guide to creating strong passwords; Aug 15).

In the light of the recent SingHealth data breach, it is good to see that people are taking data security more seriously.

Mr Lim's advice on creating strong passwords is one method to protect ourselves against hackers.

However, we cannot solely rely on strong passwords to keep us safe. Neither should data security be limited to our electronic devices.

In fact, we still store a lot of our data on paper and regularly use them in the workplace. The next time you attend a meeting, observe how much of the data presented to you is in physical form. Often, commercially sensitive information is printed out or written down in personal notebooks.

While our online data can be password-protected, this is not the case for physical data. A physical document that is not safely destroyed can easily be retrieved if left unattended or thrown into a bin.

The information in such documents could contain all kinds of sensitive personal or corporate data like identification numbers, credit card details or health records - certainly enough to harm a corporation or an individual should it fall into the wrong hands.

To fully protect our data, we need to take a more holistic approach towards data security.

We must safeguard our data online as well as offline to fully defend ourselves against hackers - by securely shredding physical documents containing confidential information before disposing of them, for example.

Only when we consider both our physical and digital data in our data security plans can we truly protect ourselves, our organisations and our society from the threat of data breaches and hackers.

Duncan Brown

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2018, with the headline 'Protect non-digital data too in defence against hackers'. Print Edition | Subscribe