Category Analysis: Data Security

With high-profile data privacy breaches all of the world in 2013, the security and data protection category has never been more in the spotlight


The technology with which we store and share data is becoming more and more advanced and we are becoming more and more dependent upon it.

And with this comes an ever-increasing concern over data security and protection.

In both the US and Europe there have been moves to write data protection into the very fabric of the constitution. In the US, President Obama has been pushing for new privacy protection rights in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that will give everyone in the country the right for their personal data to be accurate, held securely and only used for the purpose it was collected for. 

Cloud data crackdown

In Europe, moves are afoot to tackle improved security for all the data being carried around in the invisible ‘cloud’ that seems to hang over our everyday lives, with crackdowns including the creation of certified cloud software providers.

In many ways, 2013 looks like having been the year where data protection was firmly put on the map – largely due to the unheralded rash of exposés on shady email monitoring by intelligence services, high-profile privacy law non-compliance and a tidal wave of breaches and fines. 

The issue is certainly a live one in the mind of the public too, with a UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) study into public attitudes toward data protection finding that 97% of those surveyed were concerned that organisations would pass or sell on their personal details. The survey also found that more than half (53%) considered details of the products they had bought to be personal information.

Yet in spite of this, the ICO says that only 10% of businesses were aware of the legal limitations of how they could use customers’ personal data.

Another area of concern is the steep rise in the number of people bringing their own devices into offices. This wasn’t so bad when it was just a phone, but every phone is now a smartphone and tablets have almost become the necessary accessory too.

Indeed, a 2013 YouGov survey revealed that 47% of all UK employees now use their smartphone, tablet or other portable device for work purposes. This ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend has prompted the IOC to bring out a guidance report to outline the issues and remedies.

Gilly Blackburn, Head of Technology at VOW, says: “People bringing their own devices into work has to be a huge concern for companies. Multiple devices throw up challenges about security and protection. How does an IT department ensure it covers every possibility? The fact that people are now using technology in many differing ways presents a range of additional challenges.”

Mailroom threats

Even in corporate mailrooms there are no chances being taken, as David Hymers, Managing Director of Totalpost Services, can testify.

He says: “In terms of office customers, we have seen a gradual increase of interest in enhanced mailroom security. Corporate settings that have busy mailrooms are now installing security screening devices to enable the easy scanning of external items entering the mailroom. This enables mailroom staff to quickly and easily screen letters, packages and parcels for hidden threats such as white powder, blades, knives, faeces or letter/parcel bombs.”

Mailroom screening devices can range from desktop X-ray cabinet screeners where staff can place suspect mail or parcels into the cabinet for screening, to small-scale conveyor X-ray security screening devices which allow the screening of all incoming mail. 

Hymers says he has seen an increase in interest for these devices from banks and insurance companies in particular.

Bigger buildings are also looking for increased security on the front door, with supply walkthrough archways and X-ray security screening especially designed for these purposes proving popular. In high-security environments this equipment is also used to screen people as they leave to protect against the loss of valuable assets such as data disks.

Hymers adds: “Businesses have become a lot more security conscious and are seeking high standards of security from their suppliers.”

Positive impact on sales

VOW has also seen the increasing desire from businesses for security and this has been reflected in their sales.

Blackburn says: “Business on security protection products has continued to increase as businesses and consumers have become increasingly aware of privacy and data protection issues and the rise of fraud. The importance of security and data protection has also been enforced by the need for businesses to comply with legislation.”

At Avery, protection and security is a growth category with a 3% rise in sales in the last 12 months, with prevention proving a popular form of combating security risks.

Ruth Perrin, Avery UK labels Category Manager, said there’s growing interest in anti-tamper, indoor/outdoor heavy duty labels in general and ‘no peel’, and she expects the business clampdown on security to continue.

She explains: “As businesses continue to look to save money and reduce budgets, they will realise that they cannot afford loss or theft within the business and therefore will look for protection and security measures. Not only that, but more of us will also look to take these measures within our home and daily lives, ensuring that we protect not only our expensive belongings but also our identities.”

Of course, the sheer volume of people coming in and out of offices means a headache in itself. Hymers believes the X-ray machines he supplies for mailrooms will be used increasingly for the screening of baggage for corporate environments where there is a high throughput of visitors. 

At Totalpost’s South African operation there is increased demand for CCTV and RFID, with important documents being sent with RFID tagging so they can be tracked every step of the way.

The autofeed trend

At VOW, that classic mainstay of office security, the shredder, is still showing robustness, especially with the higher security of cross-cut shredders versus their simple straight-cut counterparts.

Nathan Dawes, Technology Product Manager at VOW, says: “In terms of sales, the market has seen a definitive move to cross-cut shredders and autofeed shredders. Autofeed shredders now represent around 10% of sales of all shredders.”

Autofeed shredders can improve workforce productivity, with less manual time required in the shredding process, but have raised questions about document security. 

US manufacturer Fellowes has just entered the market with the launch of its AutoMax series which has a ‘load and leave’ feature that means employees don’t have to wait by the machine if confidential documents are being shred.

Of course, with fewer documents being printed there will naturally be an expected ongoing shortfall in shredder sales. However, it is expected that the rise in homeworking and ever-growing fears over identity theft will likely give a boost to this area at the same time.