The loss by the government of discs containing the personal information of millions of child benefit recipients has highlighted the issue of security for all businesses.

If a small business has important files or documents stolen, they should tell the police straightaway, according to law firm and FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) member Wedlake Bell.

The company's Jonathan Cornthwaite said: "A first port of call for a business which has had important files or documents stolen would be to inform the police immediately."

This is so that any individuals whose details may have gone missing can be informed as soon as possible so that they can take relevant action, such as changing bank account details.

He added: "Another likely port of call would be the company's legal advisers. It may be advisable to liaise with the company's lawyers regarding the possibility of any criminal or civil actions arising from the loss of the files or documents."

Of course, small firms can take steps to minimise the chance of a security breach.

Confidential waste paper should be shredded, and the physical security of offices should be monitored and checked. Filing cabinets containing personal data should be kept locked, with only select staff members having keys.

Meanwhile, the government has said that an interim report into how the discs containing personal data went missing will be published in December.

Published on, 3 December 2007