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Confidential information

You must keep confidential information safe and make sure it does not get into the wrong hands.

Information is confidential if it has value to Serco and is not publicly available. You might also obtain confidential information from our employees, customers, partners and others.

There are many kinds of confidential information. Some examples are: information about finances, business plans or practices, marketing plans, pricing policies, specifications, systems, relationships, costs, strategies, information about employees, customers, partners or third parties, agreements, and intellectual property such as technical information, innovations, improvements, know how and trade secrets.

Take particular care online and when using social media, when you are carrying confidential information on portable or mobile devices, and if you are in a public place and other people could overhear your conversation or see your documents or screen.

Keep it in confidence.

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What you can expect from us:

Our confidential information contains our intellectual property and valuable data about us and our employees. So we have policies to ensure everyone protects it, and it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

Sometimes we hold information in confidence about others - like our customers, partners and third parties we work with. It is just as important to keep this safe.

Our policies and the law also require us to keep certain types of information and records for specified periods.

We expect you to:

  • Comply with our policies and the law when you use confidential information, and keep it safe.
  • Maintain the confidentiality of a customer's or employee's information unless they have given written consent, or the law requires or allows disclosure.
  • Manage and properly protect our intellectual property when dealing with Company records and information.
  • Never falsify any records.
  • Never hide Serco's records and documents, or alter or destroy them unless you have approval to do so. You should take particular care with documents relating to contracts, litigation or government / regulatory investigations.
  • Take care not to reveal confidential information about Serco, a customer or an employee if you leave to work elsewhere. Similarly, if you previously worked for a customer or competitor, you should keep the information you obtained there confidential. It is not acceptable to coerce someone into disclosing confidential information about a previous employer.

Information is confidential if it has value to Serco and is not publicly available. You might also obtain confidential information from our employees, customers, partners and others.

Youo need to get some work finished but have to get home to look after your children. So youo are taking the confidential files you need with you. They will only be out of the office one night.

Do you take the confidential papers home?

1. Not under any circumstances

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Yes but only if you can ensure their safety at all times

Wrong. Please try again.

Only if you have permission and the files are on encrypted media

Right answer because:

Information is confidential if it has value to Serco and is not publicly available. You might also obtain confidential information from our employees, customers, partners and others.

Our Code tell us all:

"You must keep confidential information safe and make sure it does not get into the wrong hands."

There are very clear procedures for doing this, and we must take care to follow them carefully every time.

In this case, it's only natural in the course of a working day to occasionally fall behind on some work, and want to take it home – particularly if there are urgent deadlines to meet. However, there are real risks to doing so, especially when the information is confidential.

If it's contained in printed documents, you must not remove them from Serco premises, or make copies.

If the information is in digital format, you may be able to work on this away from work. But you must have permission to do so, and the information must be properly encrypted.

It's your responsibility to make sure both of these conditions are fully met. If you're in any doubt what proper encryption requires, speak to your IT Department.

Our Code asks us to Stop and Think:

"If you are intending to use a portable PC, laptop, mobile device or removable media outside our secure premises you must make sure it is properly encrypted. If in doubt, speak to your IT Department."

You notice that a colleague has left some CVs on her desk with a note saying 'shortlisted'. A good friend has applied for a transfer and you are pleased to see he has made it onto the shortlist. You text him straight away.

What are the issues here?

1. The fault is your colleague's alone for leaving the document on view

Wrong. Please try again.

2. You and your colleague's actions are a serious breach of confidentiality

Right answer because:

  1. Your colleague should not have left the document on her desk in plain view.
  2. You shouldn't have read it.
  3. And you shouldn't then have texted your friend disclosing the contents.

This may sound a bit serious-minded, but let's walk through the issues.

Our confidential information contains our intellectual property and valuable data about us and our employees. So we have policies to ensure everyone protects it, and it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

No one should ever leave confidential documents or digital information lying around for others to see.

In this case, the documents are CVs, and may well contain private and sensitive information about the candidates. It is completely wrong to leave this for others to see – and completely wrong to look at it when you aren't entitled to.

Any decision about your friend's transfer is also confidential. The short-list may not have been finalised. Or you may have misread the information in some way. And there may be very good reasons why no one – including your friend - should know at this stage. You may even be ambushing his chances. For example, if your text were to be known, this may disqualify him from the post. And if he discussed his short-listing with others inside or outside of the company before he was officially contacted, there could well be questions asked.

There may even be more serious consequences both for him and the company if this information is revealed before it should be.

Confidential information should stay confidential, and not be shared with anyone not entitled to know. That's why our Code says:

"Use confidential information and personal data only for the purpose for which it was intended. … Never disclose information with a protective marking to anyone who doesn't have the right to see it or the need to know it."

So your proper course of action here would have been to secure the documents without reading them, and let your colleague know that they were left unsecured.

"Use confidential information and personal data only for the purpose for which it was intended. … Never disclose information with a protective marking to anyone who doesn't have the right to see it or the need to know it."

3. There aren't any – you were just giving a friend some good news

Wrong. Please try again.

On the way to work you sit next to a colleague on the train.

On his iPad you notice he is workong on documents marked 'Serco In Confidence'.

Should you say anything to him?

1. Yes, he may not know it's visible

If you can see the documents so can others. Your colleague may not be aware of this, or the potential for harm he is creating by openly working on confidential documents marked 'Serco In Confidence'. So you must speak to him and let him know.

When working with confidential documents we must ensure that unauthorised people cannot view them. Working on them publicly on a train is a breach of our policies, and you must not do it, even if you’re facing an urgent deadline.

However, in this case not saying anything and reporting him is heavy handed and you may be acting after the damage has been done.

You should speak to your colleague straight away. If he refuses to stop, then you should report this matter to your manager or divisional security manager.

Keep it safe

2. No, it's his business not mine

Wrong. Please try again.

3. I wouldn't say anything to him, but I would report him

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 1

Youo need to get some work finished but have to get home to look after your children. So youo are taking the confidential files you need with you. They will only be out of the office one night.

Do you take the confidential papers home?

1. Not under any circumstances

Wrong. Please try again.

2. Yes but only if you can ensure their safety at all times

Wrong. Please try again.

Only if you have permission and the files are on encrypted media

Right answer because:

Information is confidential if it has value to Serco and is not publicly available. You might also obtain confidential information from our employees, customers, partners and others.

Our Code tell us all:

"You must keep confidential information safe and make sure it does not get into the wrong hands."

There are very clear procedures for doing this, and we must take care to follow them carefully every time.

In this case, it's only natural in the course of a working day to occasionally fall behind on some work, and want to take it home – particularly if there are urgent deadlines to meet. However, there are real risks to doing so, especially when the information is confidential.

If it's contained in printed documents, you must not remove them from Serco premises, or make copies.

If the information is in digital format, you may be able to work on this away from work. But you must have permission to do so, and the information must be properly encrypted.

It's your responsibility to make sure both of these conditions are fully met. If you're in any doubt what proper encryption requires, speak to your IT Department.

Our Code asks us to Stop and Think:

"If you are intending to use a portable PC, laptop, mobile device or removable media outside our secure premises you must make sure it is properly encrypted. If in doubt, speak to your IT Department."

Dilemma 2

You notice that a colleague has left some CVs on her desk with a note saying 'shortlisted'. A good friend has applied for a transfer and you are pleased to see he has made it onto the shortlist. You text him straight away.

What are the issues here?

1. The fault is your colleague's alone for leaving the document on view

Wrong. Please try again.

2. You and your colleague's actions are a serious breach of confidentiality

Right answer because:

  1. Your colleague should not have left the document on her desk in plain view.
  2. You shouldn't have read it.
  3. And you shouldn't then have texted your friend disclosing the contents.

This may sound a bit serious-minded, but let's walk through the issues.

Our confidential information contains our intellectual property and valuable data about us and our employees. So we have policies to ensure everyone protects it, and it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

No one should ever leave confidential documents or digital information lying around for others to see.

In this case, the documents are CVs, and may well contain private and sensitive information about the candidates. It is completely wrong to leave this for others to see – and completely wrong to look at it when you aren't entitled to.

Any decision about your friend's transfer is also confidential. The short-list may not have been finalised. Or you may have misread the information in some way. And there may be very good reasons why no one – including your friend - should know at this stage. You may even be ambushing his chances. For example, if your text were to be known, this may disqualify him from the post. And if he discussed his short-listing with others inside or outside of the company before he was officially contacted, there could well be questions asked.

There may even be more serious consequences both for him and the company if this information is revealed before it should be.

Confidential information should stay confidential, and not be shared with anyone not entitled to know. That's why our Code says:

"Use confidential information and personal data only for the purpose for which it was intended. … Never disclose information with a protective marking to anyone who doesn't have the right to see it or the need to know it."

So your proper course of action here would have been to secure the documents without reading them, and let your colleague know that they were left unsecured.

"Use confidential information and personal data only for the purpose for which it was intended. … Never disclose information with a protective marking to anyone who doesn't have the right to see it or the need to know it."

3. There aren't any – you were just giving a friend some good news

Wrong. Please try again.

Dilemma 3

On the way to work you sit next to a colleague on the train.

On his iPad you notice he is workong on documents marked 'Serco In Confidence'.

Should you say anything to him?

1. Yes, he may not know it's visible

If you can see the documents so can others. Your colleague may not be aware of this, or the potential for harm he is creating by openly working on confidential documents marked 'Serco In Confidence'. So you must speak to him and let him know.

When working with confidential documents we must ensure that unauthorised people cannot view them. Working on them publicly on a train is a breach of our policies, and you must not do it, even if you’re facing an urgent deadline.

However, in this case not saying anything and reporting him is heavy handed and you may be acting after the damage has been done.

You should speak to your colleague straight away. If he refuses to stop, then you should report this matter to your manager or divisional security manager.

Keep it safe

2. No, it's his business not mine

Wrong. Please try again.

3. I wouldn't say anything to him, but I would report him

Wrong. Please try again.