Roughly 300 billion emails are sent every day around the world. Many of those emails contain sensitive information that can have massive legal implications.
Does your business deal heavily in the storing and transmission of trade secrets? What about customer data?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, it’s important that you understand how to secure documents.
No matter the contents of your documents or their medium (digital or paper), our team offers some practical advice on how you can best preserve sensitive information and avoid prying eyes.
1. Always Backup Important Documents
The lowest hanging fruit when it comes to avoiding the loss of pertinent data is to backup documents. You can backup your documents in a variety of ways.
If your documents are paper, make a photocopy of them or digitize them.
If your documents are digital, make digital copies of your documents and store them separately from your original.
However you choose to do it, never have a single copy of something important. If you rely on a single copy, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
Those who are interested in ways of safely backing up data can read this article.
2. Keep Documents on Encrypted Hard Drives
No matter where your digital documents are stored, ensure that their storage place is properly encrypted. Without encryption, a data thief could easily intercept sensitive information.
There are a number of programs out there (like BitLocker for instance) that allow you to apply military-grade encryption to any digital device you’re leveraging for document storage.
Talk to an IT professional about which tools will work best for your needs.
3. Leverage Safe Deposit Boxes
No matter how much effort you put into protecting your physical or digitally secured documents, they may be at risk if kept in an accessible location. To make sure that hard drives or documents are never intercepted and decrypted, consider storing them in safe deposit boxes until needed.
Safe deposit boxes provide an extra layer of security to your already protected documents. With that, even the most sophisticated of thieves won’t be able to access your data.
While not recommended, some businesses transfer secure documents through cloud storage services.
It’s important to know that cloud services, if compelled to do so by the authorities, will release your documents. To better understand third-party service’s relationship with your data, read their privacy policies.
If you send documents via cloud services, use their “protected” share features. This will ensure that if somebody intercepts the link to your document, they won’t be able to read your file’s contents.
5. Drop Physical Documents in Secured Bins for Disposal
Many businesses print out documents that contain a variety of trade secrets. Unfortunately, most assume that if these secrets get shredded prior to disposal, they’re safe.
That’s not the case.
A number of data miners are extremely adept when it comes to piecing back together shredded information.
To truly ensure that your secured documents remain secure upon disposal, find a “secured bins” provider in your area. Then, dispose of your documents in the padlocked trash cans they provide.
6. Ensure That Paper Documents Do Not Sit for Years Unsealed
Client information. Real estate records. Bank statements. These are all examples of documents you may want to preserve.
It’s important to know though that all paper deteriorates if left unsealed in closet spaces or filing cabinets.
Do you have secured documents that will be sitting for long periods of time unattended? If you do, ensure that you take proper steps to reduce their exposure to the elements.
This blog post can give you insight on how long your business might want to hold onto to legal documents. The National Archives provides some guidelines for safe document storage that you can reference here.
7. Leverage a VPN when Sharing Sensitive Information
Many legal professionals advise that people leverage VPN (virtual private network) protection when transmitting information online. Doing so hides your online identity. It also provides data an extra layer of security en-route to its destination.
VPN services can be purchased on a monthly basis from a variety of online service providers. They offer individual subscription plans and enterprise-level plans which are suited for organizations that value high levels of discretion.
8. Provide Employee Training
At the end of the day, human error is the number one culprit when it comes to undermining the safety of secure documents. To eliminate that factor, training is paramount.
If your document concerns revolve around your business operations, take the time to educate. Talk to anybody that comes into contact with sensitive data about how they should manage it.
With a dose of prevention, your business can avoid a world of headaches. It can also avoid civil legal repercussions that come with sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.
Wrapping Up How to Secure Documents Safely
Depending on the context of how your secure documents are being utilized, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure their integrity.
We hope that our tips above have informed you as an individual on how to be more cautious with sensitive data and/or have informed you as a business how to better protect trade secrets and customer information.
If you should need any legal help when it comes to your personal or corporate privacy, our team at HALT can help.
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