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The Datamax Thinking Blog

Educating, collaborating, and sparking ideas for maximizing the technology that matters.


The Case for Securing Documents: Paper and Digital

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61% of data breaches within companies of less than 500 employees involve paper records.*

Are you counting how much paper and how many employees are in your office right now?

Imagine your law firm in the news – not because you’ve just won a high profile case, but because you’ve experienced a data breach. Worse, that data breach was caused by something simple – like mistakenly throwing away older case files into the dumpster or one of your lawyers losing his briefcase in Starbucks, with client information written on his two legal pads inside that briefcase.

With the constant barrage in the news about hackers and concerns over digital insecurity, you might think that paper documents are more secure.

Not quite. Regardless of format, information needs to be secured. The best part is, with a good plan, you can secure both paper and digital documents. I’ll share a few tips later.

First, I want to share a few more statistics to reinforce the point:

  • Research from BakerHostetler shows that 21% of incidents handled in 2015 involved paper records.
  • 98% of data breaches in the Department of Veterans Affairs involves physical paper**

Don’t Ignore Security for Paper Documents

Do you know who’s printing documents? And, once printed, are you certain any of those documents containing sensitive information are disposed of properly (shredded, filed, used for an active case, or archived)?  Because an entirely paperless office is nearly impossible, here are a few tips to ensure security of your physical documents:

  • Improve physical security by relocating equipment and paper records to secure areas
  • Create and implement disposal policies and procedures
  • TRAINING! Such as shredding documents before disposing of them
  • Use print rules and follow me printing to restrict access to documents on your MFPs

I’ve written about the benefits of moving away from paper-based workflows to digital document management before: The Duck Dive, The Case Against Paper Files, and Find and Use Office Documents: The Basics. But there are also security benefits too.

Security Advantages of Electronic Document Management

Document management allows audit trails of who accessed documents and keeps track of versions. Digital document management also simplifies the transition of documents into a records management environment, which can be even more secure.

Our document management partner Laserfiche identifies 9 tips to keep electronic documents secure. Here they are:

  1. Plan for your security implementation. Create a plan that is easy to administer and update and is independent of current staff. Create groups and assign rights so the policy can grow as your company does.
  2. Simplify security by using smart folder structures. You can group documents with similar security needs in the same part of the folder tree to apply the correct rights. Avoid manual configuration by using inheritance to apply settings to sections of your repository at one time.
  3. Secure folders, not documents. Don’t waste time manually adjusting settings across thousands of documents.
  4. Automate document filing. Avoid misfiling and ensure that the right security controls are in place.
  5. Use groups. Assigning rights to groups and not individuals allows security updates and changes to be done faster.
  6. Directory accounts. Using directory account users and groups allows employees to log in with existing network credentials; streamlining administration.
  7. Mobile security. If you provide access to your repository from mobile devices, disable automatic login as well as document exports so that sensitive documents can’t be stored on the device. This will help to prevent your information from being compromised if the device is lost or stolen.
  8. It’s better to be overly restrictive. You can grant security access anytime. You can’t undo someone seeing a document they shouldn’t have seen.
  9. Review and test. Security is never-ending, so review, test, and revise on a regular basis.

And never forget to revoke someone’s credentials when they are no longer an employee.  Keep your documents and information secure. Improve your productivity. And make sure you get to court on time.

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*http://www.databreachtoday.com/blogs/preventing-breaches-dont-forget-paper-p-1690
**https://fcw.com/articles/2013/08/08/va-data-breaches.aspx

Topics: Network Security Security Healthcare Tips and Tools