SCOTTISH businesses are less likely than firms in other parts of the UK to have put in place many critical data security policies and procedures, according to a new survey.

The information from Shred-it’s eighth annual State of the Industry Report, says Scottish businesses were less likely than businesses in other regions to have a general information security policy, with 36 percent having no information security policy in place at all.

This is a higher proportion than London at 17 percent, Wales at 19 percent, the South on 24 percent, the North on 29 percent and the Midlands on 34 percent.

Scottish businesses are the least likely, by some margin, to have a policy requiring employees to report an information security issue.

Two-thirds of Scottish businesses admit to having no policy at all, compared to around half in the rest of the UK.

In addition, nearly half of Scottish companies admitted that they had no data security protocols in place for employees working off-site, far more than in any other region.

Just a quarter of London-based firm had this failing, while the North, the Midlands, and the south saw a third of firms failing here, and Wales saw two fifths failing.

Scottish businesses also ranked worse in terms of data security practices in the two areas.

The first was having a known and understood policy on storing and disposing of confidential information – nearly half of Scottish businesses say they do not have one at all.

The second was training staff on information security procedures – a third of Scottish firms say they have never trained their staff in this area

The annual study exposes information and data security risks currently threatening UK enterprises and small businesses and includes survey findings from the Shred-it Security Tracker.

Ipsos conducted a quantitative online survey of three distinct sample groups in the UK – 1,000 small business owners, over 100 executives of large organisations. and more than 1,100 consumers/employees.

The study also shows nearly a third of UK companies that have suffered a data breach have terminated an employee’s contract for related negligence.

Neil Percy, vice-president market development and integration at Shred-it, said: “It might feel like rough justice for employees to be held to account when training is not comprehensive

“But it reflects how difficult this process is, even for businesses with extensive resources.

“There may also be an assumption that some elements are common sense.

“But that potentially belies how easy it is to be duped by skilled phishers and hackers, or even to lose confidential info during the course of a busy day. Mindfulness is key and training helps.”

“The lack of ubiquitous training on the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, suggests that a large proportion of the British workforce is not appropriately trained for the kinds of safeguards necessary under GDPR.”

Around half the larger firms surveyed reported employees have lost company mobile phones and company laptops while working off-site. Three quarters of the big firms had policies for storing and disposing of sensitive data for staff off-site, but more than half of small firm bosses said they do not have a policy in place at all.

Fieldwork for the study was done from April 9 to April 23, 2018.