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Why Your Business Needs to Protect Company Records

Data protection responsibilities


At the heart of why company records and data needs protecting are the responsibilities that all companies have with relation to the data protection act. This has come to attention in recent times with the creation of the new GDPR and the much higher cost of something going wrong.
Data protection rules apply to all kinds of personal information which can range from customer addresses on file, from an invoice to your staff’s medical details on their personnel file.  It can even include things like CCTV records.

Under the new rules, someone has the right to know what data you hold on them and to:
• See what this information is, and have it corrected if it is wrong
• Have their information deleted
• Request that data isn’t used for certain purposes

It also means the company has responsibilities to report a breach or potential breach in their data protection by informing the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and also anyone who might be affected by the breach.  This means the people whose data may have been misplaced.
 

Record protection basics

Knowing what you have to do under the data protection laws is the first step, next you need to understand how to do it, what measures you need to take to put that protection in place.  This will be part of a record or data management policy.

The idea of a records policy is to look at all the types of data, both online and offline and put together a policy that tells staff what to do with it.  By outline processes, you can make it clear how each piece of data should be treated and reduce the risk that there is mishandling of the data that leads to a potential breach.

 

Key elements of the policy might include:

• What types of data and records the company has
• Where they will be stored (on-site and off-site)
• How long they need to be kept
• How they will be found if retrieval is needed
• Who is responsible for maintaining the data?
• What individuals’ responsibilities are

Off-site storage

One of the biggest issues that businesses face is the storage of physical documents.  While some paperwork needs to be kept on the premises such as for ongoing cases, invoices that haven’t been settled or for current staff, others need to be stored – but not always on-site.

That’s what off-site storage offers, the chance to use a specialist facility to store documents you are required to keep but that you don’t need frequent access to.  

Restore off an off-site storage system with 70 warehouses around the UK.  This means you can have your documents stored in a location near to you so accessing them if required doesn’t involve a long trip.  There are also different levels of storage including deep storage for deeds, wills and other types of records that need to be stored for the longest time, often many years.

Why use it?

Often one of the main reasons businesses turn to off-site storage is that they simply don’t have the space to store everything in the property.  All those filing cabinets not only take up a lot of space but have to be kept locked and secured. And should something happen, such as a fire, then all of the company’s documents could be lost.

Security

Another key reason is security.  While there is always the need to make sure the business property is secure, and that online and offline data is protected, a dedicated off-site storage facility will have a far higher level of security.  24/7 CCTV cameras, biometric entry and perimeter security are all common features on the most secure types of off-site storage.

Easy access

Storing all that data in your office can often mean finding things take a long time, even with the best intentions around organisational systems.  By having the most important documents stored in a dedicated off-site storage facility, the company operating it will use their own proven system to ensure you can easily access your documents as needed.  

Increased productivity

By keeping filing within the office simple, you can free up staff time to take care of other matters and this can have a positive impact on overall productivity. There isn’t the need for spending time every week or even every day handling lots of filing and constant searching through documents.

More than just documents

Off-site storage is also for more than just documents.  Sometimes the business may have physical items, heritage documents or other valuables that need storing and the risk of having them on the premises is too high.  With specialist racking and protective technologies, a good off-site storage can handle all kinds of different valuables in addition to just paperwork.

Magnetic Tape Backup storage

Magnetic tape backup storage: As cloud computing grows and is used for more and more things, it is easy to think that the days of a physical backup are past.  But experts say this isn’t the case and that if you truly want to protect your business and all of its data, then a physical backup is still important.

Why use backup tapes?

The most common way to backup data remains with a magnetic tape backup – but why is this still popular with all the technologies we have?

1. Impressive capacity – a magnetic tape backup can store over 6TB of data which is a lot more than most cloud storage companies offer without a serious cost being involved.

2. Speed of access – while 80-90% of data that goes into the backup is never accessed again, using a magnetic tape means that if you do need to get access, it is a quick process

3. Cost effective – the cost of buying and storing a tape is much lower than buying online storage so it is a cost-effective way to back up the business systems

4. Portability – backup tapes are still the easiest way to backup the system and then physically remove the backup from the building for better security

5. Low error rate – magnetic tapes rarely malfunction and there are no issues with modern digital problems such as viruses as these cannot affect the tape

6. Long lasting – there’s little deterioration in the tapes, especially when they are stored in a safe off-site location so there’s no concern if you leave them there for a long time

7. Low energy cost – in terms of energy, they are low cost to run and therefore are even a ‘green’ storage option!

Creating a backup tape process

Part of your overall document and records management system should be to lay out a clear process for the use and storage of the magnetic backup tapes. For example, there should be a list of the tapes and where they are – in storage, in the office or somewhere else so they can all be accounted for at any time.

When you are sending tapes to storage, cross-check them with the list to ensure they are the right ones and that they are now marked as in storage.  Make sure you are using an experienced off-site storage company to handle the process so there’s no risk that the backup tapes are misplaced.

Why online data needs protection too

Having handled the on-site and off-site storage of documents, physical data and backup tapes, attention can then move to the other half of the process – the digital data protection.  In some ways, digital data is more vulnerable than data stored physically with the threats from viruses, cybercriminals and malware. So this means that the system needs to have a strong digital component to fully protect the business.

What data needs protecting?

With online data, it is much the same as offline in terms of what needs to be protected – anything that can identify someone such as their name, address, email content, phone numbers, health information or banking details.  And the data can relate to staff and their families, shareholders and business partners, clients and any members of the public who interact with the business.

Key areas to include

There are a number of key areas to consider when planning for potential problems with online data and how to handle them.  Managing the risks is an ongoing process that involves keeping up with the latest in cybersecurity advice and systems to help reduce the risk of your business falling victim.

Passwords

A serious vulnerability can be staff passwords, and these should be carefully monitoring.  They should contain at least 8 characters and avoid common things such as repeat numbers or sequences.  A phrase is more secure than a single word while a random mixture of letters, numbers and symbols is strongest.

Virus protection

Viruses are constantly being created and this means virus protection is a very important part of business security.  You also need processes to reduce the risk of viruses gaining access to the system. This includes not clicking links in suspicious emails or downloading files from unknown sources.  And USB sticks from outside the business should not be connected to the network.

Device security

Every device should have the best possible security on it from computers to tablets to smartphones.  That way there is the best possible protection against viruses and malware at a device level as well as at a company level.  Regular updates of all software are also important for this.

Also, ensure that any devices that access the business system have the right security.  Some companies find it easier to allow staff to use personal smartphones for business and that’s fine, but you want to ensure they are secure.  Make sure there are passwords or biometric access set up on all devices and when someone leaves the company, change all passwords and permissions so they can no longer access anything.

Safe sharing

One of the benefits of cloud computing is the easy sharing of files and data between employees but it is also important that there are security measures in place for this.  For example, while public Wi-Fi is great for a casual conversion, it isn’t secured so you need to ensure that all data is encrypted before being sent over a public network.

Secure cloud services are also important to ensuring no-one can easily get access to company online data.  Look at enhanced security features on software such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to make sure sensitive company data is protected at all times.  And ensure staff take notice of browser warnings about how safe a site is when visiting, downloading or uploading.

Training and monitoring

Many staff will have a good basic knowledge of security processes, but it is a good idea to have regular training in place.  This helps them understand the threats and recognise potential cybersecurity issues as well as the consequences if there is a breach.  It should let them know what their responsibilities are and what to do if something does go wrong to get the right help.

Monitoring is another part of ensuring data security.  Designating someone within the company to keep track of these issues can be a good step and lets them spot suspicious activity as soon as it happens.  

Quick handling of problems

If someone does spot a potential cybersecurity issue, then it is important to handle it as quickly as possible.  From backing up the system to update software or getting specialist help, time is often a key factor in managing the problem.  And if there is something that indicates a breach, you have a specific time frame to inform the ICO that there may be a problem to avoid a potentially large fine for non-notification of a data protection breach.

A complex but complete system

Records and data management is a complex system, especially with the combination of off-line, physical documents with online ones.  Companies need processes in place to comply with data protection laws and good practice as well as to protect staff and customers. The potential for data protection breaches are always there but steps can reduce the risk.

By having the right partners and putting systems in place, the company can monitor issues, spot problems quickly and act in a timely manner to correct them.  This will put your company in the best position to deal with a breach and restore customer confidence.

For more information about our magnetic tape backup options, get in touch with our team today. You can also ensure full company protection by taking advantage of the other departments that Restore is compiled of, including Datashred, Digital, Technology & Relocation.

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