There isn't one business that doesn't have confidential documentation of some sort that needs to be protected. Your confidential documents could be anything from your company financial records to personal information held on your employees and customers or clients.
The risks posed for any of this sensitive information going missing, either by accident or through criminal activity, are extremely high. This is especially true if your company holds a lot of paper-based documents and files that need to be held for a lengthy amount of time.
Not forgetting of course that with the recent GDPR updates affecting just about every business in the UK, your company is at risk of incurring severe penalties should you fall foul of any new data use and storage legislation.
Confidential document storage and safeguarding
It is now more important than ever to ensure the safe handling and storage of your confidential documentation. You can do this by implementing preventative measures that help to keep your company information safe and by adopting better data protection procedures within your company.
Is it time to review your company Data Protection policies? Maybe your business has been running for years and adopted some basic Data Protection Act initiatives that were effective in the early days of your company, but may no longer fit with your current needs and requirements.
Update your Data Protection policies
It is very important that you have strong company policies in place that help to safeguard your sensitive company information in all forms, whether that be digital or paper-based.
Not only do you need to have good protection policies in place, but you also need to ensure that your employees fully understand them and can follow them without any confusion or difficulty.
Your company policies over handling confidential data are completely up to you and could be as simple to follow as having a company-wide 'clean desk' policy where every staff member is required to leave their work desk free from paperwork at the end of each day.
This means that no sensitive information is left exposed to the risk of low-level data theft through criminal break-ins or ID thieves gaining false entry to your offices.
Make your Data Protection policies fully accessible
While it is a good idea to regularly update your company policies regarding the safe handling, storage and disposal of your confidential information, your policies will be no good if they are hidden away somewhere inaccessible to your staff.
Keeping your policies in a manner that can be easily accessed by your staff, such as through an online document management system where they can gain access to your policies via smartphones, laptops and tablets, makes it easier for you to foster a secure information culture in your company.
New employee policy adoption
When taking on new employees it is essential that you work in reading and adopting your Data Protection policies as part of their induction training schedule.
Just as you would expect all new staff members to undergo any related Health & Safety training in the workplace, you must also ensure that your new employees fully understand and comply with your company Data Protection policies and procedures.
Any changes or new additions to your Data Protection policies and procedures should be shared widely across all staff members and if necessary some additional talks or training should be held to update your staff and raise awareness over the importance of keeping your confidential information safe and managed correctly.
New General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into effect in May 2018. These new regulations came in to replace the standard Data Protection Act. The changes had a major impact on the way UK businesses manage their data.
This meant that a lot of companies needed to make changes to their organisation to ensure that they continued to meet with their compliance and to avoid hefty fines should they be found non-compliant.
Overall the new GDPR policies were designed to take into account for new technologies. With the ever-increasing threats of cyber attacks and digital data breaches from server hacks, this was an important step to take.
However, UK business owners should never lose sight of the fact that their paper-based documentation is just as important to protect from theft and their handling and storage will still need to meet with the new legislation.
Are your paper-based documents secure?
If you have any of the following types of documents in paper format you will need to comply with GDPR rules and regulations over their management and secure storage:
• Client information
• Human Resources files
• Medical files
• Personal files
• Financial details
If you currently hold any of this paper-based information on your work premises, can you easily gain access to them? If so, what security measures do you have in place to prevent any unauthorised persons gaining entry to your files?
The simplest steps to take would be to ensure you use strong, tamper-proof filing cabinets with secure and fully working locks to keep all files safe from very easy access.
Do you have a secure key-cupboard where all of your filing cabinet keys are kept locked away when not in use? It is not safe to leave filing cabinet keys sitting in an unlocked office desk draw as this is one of the first places a criminal would look to check for cabinet keys.
Do you have a 'clean desk' policy in place that ensures that all paperwork is locked safely away at the end of each day and nothing is left laying open overnight on unattended work desks?
Archive storage considerations
It doesn't take very long for a business to build up a lot of paper-based files. While they are still useful and needed for business purposes, it makes sense to keep them stored close-by for easy access on a day to day basis within your workplace.
However, there will come a time where your paper files will reach the end of their immediate usefulness, but still need to be kept stored away for a certain period of time for auditing purposes.
This is where a lot of business owners stumble across a big problem. What exactly do you do with all this built-up paperwork when you need to keep it for legal reasons, but you don't actually need to look at it on a regular basis?
The most obvious solution here would be to transfer all of your old paperwork from your office filing cabinets into an archive store, such as a storeroom that has been fitted out with storage racking for example.
While this may be a good short-term solution to manage the build-up of your confidential archived paperwork, it does add an extra layer or risk to your company.
Risks of keeping archived documents on-site
Firstly, there is no denying that having a large storeroom stocked full of paper is a major fire risk. Should your company suffer from a malicious break-in it would be very easy for the perpetrators to start a fire in your storeroom that could be absolutely devastating for your company and very hard to recover from.
Secondly, on the opposite end of the scale, should your business premises be subject to a flood from a natural disaster or a burst water pipe, then the resulting water damage can render your paper files useless.
Thirdly, should you suffer from a targeted break-in by criminals wanting to steal your valuable data to commit business fraud or ID theft, then breaking into a large storeroom full of paper records would be a golden opportunity to do a lot of damage to your company.
Steps you can take to reduce risks
Luckily, there are very positive and effective steps that your company can take to handle your confidential documents and ensure that the risks of data breaches are minimised.
• Look at your company structure to identify the departments that will be the most likely to create and use confidential information.
• Ensure that staff working in these departments prioritise sensitive documents and arrange for electronic scanning of those documents.
• Arrange for secure off-site confidential storage for the original paper copies.
Secure off-site confidential storage
By far the best way to keep your archived paper-based records safe is to invest in secure off-site confidential storage with a company such as Restore Records Management.
With our help, you can implement and enforce a very clear identification and filing system for your confidential paperwork. We can even help you out with our strong and sturdy range of Archive Storage Boxes to collect together, store and protect your valuable documentation.
Having a good clear-out of your stored paperwork will give you the opportunity to make sure you locate any misfiled documents that may have gone astray and also ensure that you are not keeping multiple copies of sensitive information.
Unfortunately, there are many data breaches that happen because of human error in the handling of paper records. This can lead to extra copies of files being duplicated where original files have gone missing. The more copies of the original documents you have, the higher the risk of suffering data breaches.
Duplicated copies of your confidential paperwork could turn up anywhere. They can be caused by many different reasons such as:
• Copies left open on a desk or in office desk drawers
• Copies left on office printers
• Copies on unencrypted devices; USB sticks, CD’s DVDs
• Insecure disposal via regular bins
• Multiple photocopies are taken
• Unauthorised removal of documents from the office
You can narrow down and reduce duplicate copies while putting the original copy into secure off-site storage with Restore Records Management.
Different Document Storage types
With Restore Records secure off-site document storage solutions, you can really get your workplace into good order and ensure that your confidential documents are safe and free from risks of theft, fire, flood and vandalism.
Secure off-site document storage
Restore Records Management have invested in top-quality equipment, technology and in-depth security training for our staff. We can offer your company a complete end-to-end solution for the care and management of your confidential files.
We will work closely with you to keep your data safe, secure and protected in one of our high-security storage facilities. Our highly efficient storage solution covers everything from the initial uplift of your documentation from your business premises to the transportation and delivery of your documents to either our near storage or deep storage facilities.
Once securely stored in our state-of-the-art facilities, you can easily obtain fast access, collection and delivery of any files that you need to pull out of storage at any point in the future.
Our near storage facilities are suitable for active files that are still of use to you and that you may need to gain access to at some point in the near future. Our near storage facilities are based within 70 highly secure warehouses spread across the country so there will always be a storage facility that is situated near to your workplace for speedy access to your documentation.
Secure off-site deep storage
You should choose our deep storage solution for your more precious or rare documents. These may be documents that you will rarely or never need to look at, but need to be kept safe and away from the risk of harm or environmental deterioration.
You should also use deep storage for any records that you need to keep by law for many years, but don't necessarily need access to again. These may include property deeds, financial and medical records, wills and historical documents.
Regardless of whether you need our near storage or deep storage solutions, you can be rest assured that we put the security of your confidential and precious documents at the heart of what we do here at Restore Records Management.
We have every aspect of your data security covered, from our GPS-tracked security vehicles and fully vetted and trained security staff, depot security access control, to our fire suppressants and air and humidity control. We operate to BS7858:2012, BS1571:2009 and USSA Code of Practice standards.
Find out more about our Secure Confidential Storage Services or contact us for a quote today! Our friendly staff are here to help should you need any more information or advice.