Improper Disposal Can Result in Breach

Wadih Pazos October 18, 2013

Improper Disposal Can Result in Breach
Document Management
Blog
After converting a company’s inconvenient, antiquated system of recording new information on paper files over to a sleek and modern electronic workflow platform, business leaders and employees alike can be very excited about these changes. Gone are the days when looking for one tiny piece of information could take hours if a paper was misfiled or the cold sweat they’d endure if a document was lost or thrown away by accident.

No matter the department within a firm, from financial to human resources, any part of a business can vastly benefit from making the shift to paperless formats.

But what about the disposal of all the paper files once everything’s been scanned into computers using electronic document imaging programs? After taking the time to transfer everything to the digital sphere – a worthwhile but often time-consuming process – this might not seem like an immediate concern. After all, workers now have access to all of this information on computers.

But this is a very important step in coming full circle on the choice to go paperless. Documents have to be disposed of – what if there’s a break-in or a storm that destroys the office and scatters the papers? The digital files will be safe, but not the physical ones. Plus, it’s essential that this is done in the right manner – i.e. with a shredder so that the information can’t be compromised.

Otherwise, the business could risk losing nearly everything it’s worked hard for.

Data breaches caused by improper disposal

This might seem overly dramatic, but massive data breaches that not only affect the finances of the company but also the very identity of its clients aren’t exactly rare. Just one piece of paper in the hands of a criminal could be used to wreak havoc on the operation.

Consider the situation in North Dakota. Though the information was only recently made publicly available, according to PHI Privacy, the Minne-The Health Center/Elbowoods Memorial Health Center experienced a breach in October 2011. One of the contributing factors to the loss of the sensitive information of 10,000 individuals was “improper disposal.”

Shredders are crucial

While scanners have been employees’ best friends in recent months, shredders now need to fill this role. Workers just need to pass sheets of paper through these machines, then they never have to worry about that tangible document causing a breach.

Insider’s tip – it’s also best if, when disposing of the confetti the scanners make with once-crucial documents, workers split up the shards into a few different trash bags. This way, no one would be able to piece the files back together.

Wadih Pazos

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

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