How to Protect Paperless Systems

Wadih Pazos December 12, 2013

How to Protect Paperless Systems
Document Management
Blog
How do company owners ensure that their information doesn’t accidentally end up in the hands of criminals? Traditionally, many offices have been full of paper, meaning that if even one sheet with sensitive information was obtained by a criminal, the company, its employees, and its clients could suffer greatly. As such, many businesses go to great lengths to protect tangible records – such as hiring security guards, investing in closed-circuit TV cameras, and purchasing top-of-the-line file cabinets with locks.

That being said, these solutions aren’t cure-alls. After all, what if the threat of theft comes from within the walls of the office? Employees who want to steal important files will likely know how to get around the cameras, have access to keys that unlock the cabinets, and other methods of taking the papers. Even if workers have the best of intentions, a misplaced document could spell a lot of trouble.

It’s different when companies embrace electronic workflow and move toward paperless systems. Gone are the tangible documents, replaced by digital files. These can be much easier to protect from prying eyes – if someone wants to steal crucial information, they have to first gain access to the system, then have the right authorization to tap into sensitive files.

However, that’s not to say that business leaders can adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality – they too have to work to keep all records safe. So what do managers need to know in order to keep company documents protected when they’re online?

Educate everyone

The easiest way to ensure that documents will continue to stay safe is to make sure all workers are on the same page. If even one worker doesn’t follow best practices, the whole company might be vulnerable to a cyberattack that could expose important information, such as bank account or employee Social Security numbers.

As Business 2 Community reported, education should be on the top of the list for employees at the National Health Service, as the group moves to a paperless system. The news source stated that organizations that digitize need to be proactive in order to protect electronic files, so those on the front end must have the right training.

Upon digitizing, it might be worth it for company leaders to hold a seminar about best practices when it comes to choosing a password, logging off at the end of the day and accessing files only from reliable and protected devices, among other factors.

Protect certain records

Bloomberg BNA suggests that it might behoove company leaders to place the most sensitive documents in their area and make sure the smallest possible number of people have permission to tap into this folder. For instance, forms that contain employee Social Security numbers might only need to be looked at by human resources employees. So, administrators might want to make sure that only staffers in this section have access to sensitive information. Even then, maybe only higher-ups should have the correct permissions to open such files.

Deciding who needs authorization for individual critical records might mean more work for administrators, but it will pay off and give leaders peace of mind in the long run.

“Who needs access to what? Not everyone in HR needs access to the medical information of an employee,” for example, SHRM Manager Lisa Orndoff told the news source.

Normal security features

Even if a business has yet to embrace electronic document management tools, there are a number of things that should already be present on their networks. These elements – like firewalls, multi-pronged login requirements, encryption, and other features – need to be re-evaluated to ensure they work when a company’s files make their way to computers.

Wadih Pazos

Wadih founded PairSoft and PaperSave, and he currently advises non-profits on business process improvement and technology.

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