Improving and ensuring document security needs to be a priority given the confidential nature of a large amount of information processed by businesses. Fraud, fines and legal action are all potential consequences of data loss, impacting a company's bottom line, brand and reputation.
If you struggle to find documents, there are no access restrictions or if information could easily fall into the wrong hands, it's time to take a proper look at your document security.
Document security is how a business keeps control of its data, ensuring compliance and the prevention of data loss.
Efficiently maintaining document archiving, filing, processing, sharing, back ups and destruction should be planned out. Everyone in the organisation needs to be aware of document security protocols and the important role they each play in following them.
Different document types will have different rules that apply to them. For example with an employee contract, only HR, a line manager and the employee themselves should have access, whereas invoices could be available to all of finance, management and project teams.
Improving the security and safety of your archived documents will also depend on whether information is stored digitally or on paper. Paper documents can be lost, misfiled and accessed much more easily than those stored digitally.
Archived documents are those put into secure storage for an extended period of time. They may contain information employees need to access infrequently, but that are required for reference to ensure tasks are completed.
Additionally, some document types are subject to lengthy retention rules such as invoices that need to be kept for six years. Data held on children may need to be kept for up to 15 years and medical data can be up kept for up to 75 years!
It's vital that documents both in paper and in digital format are archived securely. Protecting a company and an individual's data from threats of cyber attacks, fraud and loss should be a top priority.
On a daily basis organisations send and receive thousands of documents and emails relating to personal and sensitive information. Every business has a responsibility to ensure it is all secure. There are a variety of business processes, tools and document security systems that can be implemented to help.
If you don't have one in place already, think about any document security problems you've had, as well as worse case scenarios and put a plan in place to mitigate risk. There are plenty of online 'how to guides' you could use as a reference.
Think about whether paper left on desks should be filed away? Are computer screens left unlocked while out at lunch. Walk around your office and look at the potential risks that could occur either accidentally by staff, through fraudulent activity or from a natural disaster.
What are you doing with paper documents, ID badges or company credit cards that are no longer needed? If they end up in the bin with all the other rubbish they're not being disposed of securely. Organisations could face fines or punishment for non-compliance with data protection legislation.
If the volume of shredding is low, it can easily be taken care of in-house. But for large amounts there are variety of companies out there that can help. Items for shredding can be collected, securely transported and shredded off-site, with a certificate of destruction supplied as proof.
Not only does this ensure business are working towards quality and compliance, but shredded items can be recycled so you're doing your bit for the environment too.
When thinking about document security it's important to address who can access what. Organisations hold large volumes of data both personal to employees, about customers and suppliers, as well as business critical information not to be shared with competitors.
With a digital document security system, employees can be given specific access to documents, digital cabinets or features, dependant on their role. An employee data file for example should only be available to staff in HR and no-one else. Permissions such as read or edit rights, the use of digital stamps and authorisation to change tasks can all be put in place.
It's not just about restricting employees, but ensuring they have the right level of access to enable them work with ease, while giving the organisation as a whole greater confidence of document security and compliance.
If you choose to implement a document security system, ensure that everything is encrypted. Data stored within it should go through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to encrypt data between users and the data centre.
With paper documents or even those saved on a desktop or in emails, how are they backed up? Can employees ensure that if the original is lost or accidently deleted, they can be easily retrieved?
Document security is guaranteed and protected from natural disasters with a document security system. Data backed up across multiple data centres ensures business continuity. Lost information can be available again in no time.
Using a digital system for document security means businesses can track who saved, opened and edited a document and when. This provides valuable information if there's ever a problem.
Secure digital archiving also means you're audit ready, as documents are organised, found quickly and easily accessed by an auditor.
Improving the security and safety of your archived documents can be achieved with some or all of the above tips we've suggested. It's better to look at document security now, as a preventive measure than later, when a problem has already happened. Any document security improvements made will help with process optimisation efforts and contribute to making operations run more smoothly.
When processing thousands of documents a week became too much for Accountancy Service providers Wettone Mathews, they enlisted our help to implement a document security system to house all their achieved documents.
They told us:
"The biggest benefit is the accessibility of information across the office, saving on storage space and saving some trees!"
You read more about it on our case studies page.
If you need help with document security, whether it's to understand what options there are, or you're looking to go digital, we'd love to chat. Call us on 0161 647 7040 or book a meeting with the team below.
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