How Your Paper Office Documents Are a Security Risk

digitaldocsThink about your home. You have locks on your doors to keep prowlers out. You may have an alarm system and cameras to alert the authorities and document anything that may happen if they get past those locked doors.  Imagine for a moment that these bad guys get past your locks, cameras and alarm. Where will they start to look for valuables? Easily accessible places such as drawers, cabinets, wallets and purses, and other unsecured areas where you might have stuff. You also likely have all of your important papers locked away in a lock box, safe or cabinet.  So while they may get some cash and credit cards, your great-grandmother's four carat diamond heirloom pendant is safe. 

Now imagine this same exercise, but at your business.  Most times when thieves break into businesses, while they are looking for cash, electronics and such, they're also looking for data.  Because with data, they can get a whole lot more cash.  Imagine they get your payroll information, your financial account information or your client's financial information.  The amount of money they can glean from these sources is way bigger than the cash you have on hand. 

In many ways, we treat our businesses as we do our homes. We protect cash and physical valuables, but we often forget about other areas where information can be used for gain by criminals. Think of how many file cabinets in your office are left unlocked each and every day and night. Those cabinets are FILLED with all sorts of information that could make a crook a boatload of cash if he knows what he's doing.  And THIS is why your office documents are a big security risk.  Outside of locking every file cabinet with paper in it and ensuring nobody can break into them, the best way to handle document security is through digitization.  

How do I digitize my documents?

The move from paper to electronic documents is sometimes a daunting thought. The drawers and boxes full of paper documents may seem insurmountable. With a few tips, you can make the job easier to handle.

  • Sort through what you have and what you actually need.  There will be tons of documents that you just don't need to hold onto anymore.  And there will be others that you absolutely have to keep in paper format. Check out resources online to see a list of document types and how long you need to keep them.  Shred what you no longer need, and then get started scanning.  If you don't have the manpower at the office, look at hiring an intern or even a scanning service to get the job done.
  • Once all of your old files have been scanned and sorted, you will need to place them into an electronic document management system. Think of it as your electronic filing cabinets. This will allow your employees to search for, find and edit files electronically.
  • Now that all of your old files are digital, make sure you have a plan for how you'll handle files moving forward.  You'll want to make sure you have policies and practices in place for how digital documents will be handled.

What are the benefits of digital documents?

With digital documents, there are so many improvements you'll be able to see in a very short time.  Here are just a few.

  • Cost reduction.  Without all of the paper to store, you'll need less filing cabinets and space.  And with digital documents being the future of your files, you'll save money on paper and toner because there won't be a need to print everything out.
  • Improved data security.  Just like in our example at the beginning of this post, without having important paper documents easily accessible, you'll be able to control who sees what documents and who can edit those documents.  Access should only be provided for those who truly need it to conduct business.
  • Data backup.  God forbid you experience a natural disaster like a fire or flood, those paper documents you had would've been lost forever. Digital document management and cloud storage keeps your data in a safe, secure and restorable location. 
  • Saving time.  So we know we can't get back lost time, but with digital document management, you'll save so much time not having to search for paper, print new documents, file new versions of documents and so much more.

So while many of the threats to businesses comes from the cybersecurity world, there is also a whole host of land mines in your paper office documents if they fall into the wrong hands.  So add another layer of security to your business with digital documents and document management.  You can never have too much protection for your business assets and valuable data.