Posted by Pekin Insurance on Mar 07, 2018
Television shows like Game of Thrones probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about business document security issues. But if you’re HBO, you are worried about a hacker who stole thousands of documents including scripts for the hit television show, as well as emails, internal documents, and employees’ personal information.
HBO isn’t the only big business with recent episodes of hacking. Equifax, eBay, Yahoo, and Target Stores have all had major data theft problems in the last few years. Hacking isn’t the only way to steal important business information, though. Physical document security issues are equally catastrophic in the right circumstances, especially for smaller businesses.
At any given time, your business may have files including customer credit card information, employee social security numbers, business bank account information, or proprietary information. These files could be readily accessible to both employees and customers, depending on where you keep them and how vigilant you and your employees are at keeping them secure. Here are some of the most common document security issues and actionable tips on how to fix those issues.
Most businesses have both physical documents and digital documents. These documents may include employee forms, like health information and W-2s, or financial information for your business, such as credit card numbers or contract information. If they aren’t properly secured, these documents and files put your business, your employees, and your customers at risk of identity theft or credit card fraud, never mind the inconvenience of something less sinister like losing valuable information.
What forms do these document security issues take? Theft, natural disasters, hacking, carelessness, and fires are just a small number of ways sensitive documents can turn into nightmares for your business. Eliminating or limiting the toll of these calamities starts with a plan.
1. Unsecured documents are easy to steal.
Important documents need to be locked in a file cabinet. While a determined thief might be able to break a lock, a casual or opportunistic thief will likely move on. Make it a policy for anyone with important files to put them away in a locked cabinet or desk drawer whenever they aren’t using them.
2. Too many people have access to sensitive information.
You do need some sensitive information, such as payroll records and emergency contact information for employees, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs access to it. Limit access just to those who need the information to complete their job responsibilities.
3. Computers are at risk.
Digital information is just as vulnerable as hard copies if you leave your computer unlocked. If your employees use company computers or personal devices with company information, require them to lock their computers. For that matter, antivirus software and system updates are an important and easy part of securing devices. There’s no good reason to skip out on those.
4. Physical data is easily destroyed.
It only takes one fire or one flood to wipe out years of important business documents. In 2017, for instance, tech company Hewlett-Packard lost “more than 100 boxes” of “correspondence, speeches, and other items” from the company’s founders in the Santa Rosa, California, wildfires. Use a fire and waterproof file cabinet to secure your documents.
5. Too many documents are on file.
When you no longer need a document, it’s time to shred it. Don’t leave documents with confidential information in recycling bins, in the trash, or on a desk to take care of later. This goes for hard drives, too. Unless you physically destroy it, a good hacker could still pull information from it.
6. Networks are unsecured.
Almost every business is at risk of an online data breach or cyber attack. CNN Tech reports that a 2017 cyber attack resulted in some British hospitals temporarily closing, and schools in Montana closed for three days when a hacker group stole the personal information of students and teachers.
While there are a lot of ways to secure your network, one of the easiest is to simply ensure you have a firewall in place and require a password for access.
7. Records aren’t backed up.
There are plenty of ways to lose critical data. Whether it’s user error, technical malfunction, or hacking, if you don't regularly back up your data, it's at risk. In many cases, you can automate backups, so you don’t even have to think about it. In a worst-case scenario, even if a hacker does steal and hold your information for ransom, you have a copy, so you at least know what is at risk.
8. There is no disaster plan in place.
Every business needs a disaster plan. You probably have a fire escape plan, a panic button in case of police emergencies, and maybe even an evacuation plan if you live in areas prone to natural disasters. But do you have a plan in place for document theft? Business, employee, and customer information is at risk no matter how diligent you are at locking file cabinets or securing your network. It’s unfortunate but true.
Work on your response now so you’re prepared if you are a victim of data theft. How will you inform customers? What law enforcement agencies and credit agencies will you contact? What steps will you take to ensure the impact is as limited as possible?
9. The security camera is poorly placed.
Properly positioned security cameras are a theft deterrent by themselves, but even if you are the victim of an on-location data theft (or any other crime), good security cameras may help police identify and locate the criminal. Business security systems don’t need to be expensive to be effective.
10. Hire a security expert.
If you truly want to limit your business’ exposure to theft, hire a security expert to audit your business. This goes for both physical security, such as illegal entries, and cyber security, such as hacking. When you know where the holes are in your defenses, you can take steps to make your business documents even more secure.
Depending on your preparation and response, document security issues can make or break your business. Take the steps necessary to reduce risk and secure critical information. It will only help your business in the long run.
Another way to help secure your business is with business insurance through Pekin Insurance. Did you know that valuable papers and records coverage is included with the Pekin PAK Program? And your business may also be eligible for Data Compromise Coverage.
Contact Associated Insurance Counselors today to learn more.