Everything You Need To Know About Data Theft


Everything You Need To Know About Data Theft

May 2020 will mark the two-year anniversary of the General Data Protection Regulation being rolled out across EU countries. The GDPR was introduced as a piece of EU legislation with the protection of users and data at the core. The officials who put together the GDPR wanted businesses and organisations to have greater control over their users’ data for safeguarding purposes.

Today, businesses need to be vigilant about how they collect, store and process personal data; to ensure they are following GDPR legislation. The three main objectives of the GDPR are:

  1. To protect the rights of users regarding their data

  2. To ensure that data privacy laws keep up with technology evolution

  3. To create a single consistent legislation across the EU

Despite the increased security requirements that the GDPR has introduced, data from the European Commission states that only 67% of Europeans are aware of the legislation. Furthermore, since May 2018 when the GDPR was introduced, there have been 89,271 data breach notifications across the EU¹. Given these statistics, this article will give some insight into identity theft via criminals obtaining physical paper documents containing sensitive data, and what organisations can do to help avoid being a target of data theft.

What is data theft?

Today, the majority of business information is stored virtually, whether on a hard drive or in the cloud. However, business needs mean that companies still hold confidential information in its physical form as a paper document. Other than locking these private documents away behind a lock and key, there is very little else available to keep it safe.

Whilst it is often assumed that most data crimes are associated with bank fraud or identity theft of an individual, these crimes are still prevalent in working environments. Criminals can steal both company, employee and customer data; resulting in serious crime and theft from a company or individual.

How to avoid data theft?

Paper documents are at risk; there is simply not the same level of security that can be implemented in the same way as digital documents. Whilst items can be locked away it is often wiser to destroy the paper version when it is no longer required.

The most effective way of disposing of physical documents safely is by using a shredder. With Rexel AutoFeed paper shredders, users can select a machine that provides the level of security they desire. All Rexel paper shredders are categorised by their DIN security level which is shown as a P-rating; this refers to the number of pieces that a document is shredded into.

Rexel’s larger AutoFeed shredder models have a PIN lock feature for security. They also allow users to:

  • Shred up to 750 sheets of paper in one go (depending on the machine)

  • Automatically shred by simply shutting the machine’s lid and walk away

  • Save time spent on shredding by 98% vs manual shredders²

Many businesses that organise, collect, store and manage person data protect it from misuse by purchasing a Rexel shredder.

Data theft in the workplace

When we consider the ways in which lawbreakers can obtain personal data we envision hacking, cyber-attacks and online data breaches. However, tardiness with paper documents in the workplace can also lead to data theft. Unfortunately, it is a reality that many data breaches that occur in the workplace are committed inadvertently or unintentionally by an employee.

For example, during the application and hiring process of a new job, applicants hand over virtually every single piece of information about themselves. Often, hard copies of documents containing NI numbers, dates of birth and bank details are left circulating filing systems. These files are a goldmine for data thieves.

The cost of data theft

Companies that experience a data breach can face fines of up to £18,000,000 or 4% of the total business turnover. Not only can data theft devastate a company financially, but it can also ruin its integrity and trustworthiness with customers and employees alike.

On average, identity fraud costs the UK an incredible £5.4 billion per year, with 3.25 million people affected³. Given that the number of data security incidents involving paperwork has increased by 22%4 since 2018, this indicates that there could be a lack of understanding and GDPR awareness for companies when it comes to data protection.

To help your business adhere to GDPR regulations and avoid data breaches, including identity theft, find out more about Rexel Optimum AutoFeed papeer shredders today. 


  1. https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/infographic-gdpr_in_numbers_1.pdf

  2. GFK 2018 H1 EU3 *Shredding supports GDPR compliance

  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36379546

  4. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/813599/Cyber_Security_Breaches_Survey_2019_-_Main_Report.pdf