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Printed Paper: The Forgotten Data Theft Risk in document management

By Hellen Lubanga

When we hear stories of data breaches, our mind instinctively forms an image of computer hackers getting a hold of our personal data through stealthily accessing our devices. More often than not, this is not the case. In reality, a substantial number of data breach cases are actually as a result of organizations’ failing to outline proper strategies meant to guide the protection of confidential and sensitive information.

Picture this: you go to make a photocopy of a client’s information only to find your colleague at the printing station. While there, you strike up a conversation that ends up distracting you as you complete the tasks that brought you to the printer in the first place, but as you leave, you forget to clear the data from the printer or leave behind the original. You may think since it is a private office that your data is safe, but the truth is that organizations do have malicious insiders waiting for an opportunity to get their hands on data for their own benefit.

Whether data breaches could result from intentional or accidental actions, companies should always look beyond cyber security measures and focus a spotlight on physical document security as well.

So exactly how are your paper processes high-risk?

1. Documents managed are left out where anyone can see them.

If you work in an office setting, it is instinctual to set aside documents in your workspace as you sift through your to-do list. Unfortunately, this means that if this is something you are used to, chances are you may treat confidential documents the same way out of muscle memory, even when you did not intend to. It is safer for companies to provide lockable storage for employees so that it becomes an ingrained company culture that documents are not meant for the public eye.

2. There is no accountability for access when managing documents

Most companies have password protection or authorization requirements when it comes to their digital records. However, a lot of those same companies do not treat paper data with the same urgency. Depending on the size of your organization, you should have a clearly defined strategy for which employee is in charge of which document and at what stage. The strategy should also include the clearance and handover process for when the data has to be shared with another party, as well as the consequences of not adhering to the outlined process.

3. There is no formal training in place that covers paper document confidentiality.

Companies do not take the time to formally train their employees on how to handle paper. This includes, but is not limited to, the document disposal process, the use of shared printers in the workplace, the authorization process, the emailing process, and so on.

If you want to get ahead of any risks resulting from breaches, while employees are being trained on other aspects of the company culture, document handling should also be given the same effort.

4. Companies are not investing in basic paper security

Sure, adding locks to cabinets may increase your expenditure budget, but investing in the security of your workplace is worth it. Or better yet, find ways to go completely paperless. There is a popular saying that goes, “cheap is expensive,” which makes a lot of sense because, by trying to cut costs by sacrificing security, you risk paying dearly down the line in the event of a data breach or leak. The government takes data leaks very seriously, and covering the cost of the damage resulting from leaked data will far outweigh the cost of enhancing your office protection.

5. Overlooking the little things

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have set procedures or policies dictating how company employees are meant to treat paper. This goes for the “insignificant” policies as well, such as a clear desk policy, if left unattended, or a bin-emptying policy. When it comes to data protection, nothing is “too small.”

These are just a few of the steps one can take to ensure their data is protected, but if you want to ensure airtight document handling, look into getting a document management system. Not sure where to start? Talk to us today and we can walk you through the process of locking down your document safety digitally.

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