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In this issue we will examine the realities of document security within businesses and how “spring cleaning” your document destruction policy can help your company comply with regulation when disposing of sensitive information. Security firm Symantec has shown that 31 per cent of all data breaches are a result of negligence, providing evidence that there is a lack of awareness of the necessity to implement such procedures in the work place for all employees to follow .
For many businesses, setting a schedule for clearing out old files can help destroy outdated or unnecessary documents and create space around the office. This practice can also help businesses reduce their risk of leaking confidential data. Businesses should apply a “spring cleaning” policy to their own business practice to ensure that old, outdated and unwanted sensitive information is securely destroyed. Doing so will help organisations avoid exposing confidential information that can increase the potential risk of a data breach, resulting in fraud or identity theft of the company itself or its customers.
Many businesses are required by law to keep confidential client information, as well as employee or company data for a minimum amount of time. There are numerous business records that should be held for up to a minimum of six years, which can include employee agreements, business loan documentation, litigation records, as well as general expense reports and records including overhead expenses and professional consultation fees.
Other documents may be kept for shorter, longer or an indefinite period of time and it’s important to know what legal requirements are enforced for your industry to not only stay compliant, but to also dispose of documents you may no longer need.
Regularly maintaining filing cabinets and securely disposing of old documents can help minimise risk of sensitive information being accessed by unauthorised personnel. The risks of keeping old documents containing sensitive data can be high, possibly resulting in identity theft, fraud and potential financial loss or reputational damage.
Paper: Don't throw old papers or files into the recycling bin. Loose paper is often unattended before it has been recycled and can leave your organisation vulnerable to potential security breaches. Papers in recycling bins can be misplaced or stolen. Instead, ensure you dispose of loose paper in a secure, locked console that cannot be accessed until it is ready to be shredded by a reliable professional.
Electronic sources: Erasing disks and drives is no guarantee that the data will be wholly eliminated. Physical destruction, rendering the object unreadable by any machine is the safest option.
Shred-all: Implementing a "shred-all" policy for the disposal process when all unneeded documents are fully destroyed on a regular basis. This dramatically minimizes any potential risk or exposure.
Developing a clear set of guidelines and aligning the disposal policies throughout the business will ensure that the decision to destroy is taken out of the hands of individual employees and will minimize the risk of a data breach for the organisation. Whether intentional or unintentional, leaked information can be preyed upon by criminal groups in order to commit fraud and identity theft crimes. It is important to maintain regular secure disposal of paper waste, proper organisation and maintenance of stored records as well as an efficient and sound process for destroying outdated records that are no longer needed.
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