In the age of large-scale data breaches, some small business owners might believe that maintaining a paper-centric policy regarding sensitive records is the way to go. However, that belief is misguided. In fact, by not going paperless, you’re actually increasing the possibility your company may be subject to a devastating breach.


Paper vulnerability

In February, the U.S. government’s Office of Management and Budget prepared a report for Congress on cybersecurity that revealed 25 percent of federal data breaches in the year 2014 were “non-cyber.” This means unauthorized parties got access to government information in a manner that did not involve computers. This vulnerability exists for the simple reason that it is much easier to pick a lock or shatter a window than it is to crack a high-end cyber security system. In recent years, identity thieves have started targeting businesses operating in the medical and dental field because sensitive patient data like Social Security numbers and addresses are kept in paper records.


Human error

Another way thieves get access to sensitive information is through lax security compliance among a company’s employees. Most businesses have specific guidelines regarding the handling and destruction of consumer data, but as this Swingline piece explains, younger workers don’t take those rules as seriously as they should. A survey by the company found that 38 percent of workers age 25 to 34 ignore instructions to shred sensitive documents. Again, it’s much easier to retrieve sensitive data from a waste disposal unit than an encrypted data server.


Taking responsibility

While cybersecurity is incredibly important in the modern era, maintaining high standards regarding the handling of physical records is also crucial. Your company should have a clear policy regarding how sensitive paperwork is dealt with, and all employees should be held accountable to it. To ensure that your workers follow the rules, you should explain the ideas behind them and how devastating a major data breach could be to a small business. As an owner, it’s also your responsibility to make sure your office has a high-end shredder on the premises that is both easy to operate and maintain and can process a high volume of daily shredding. When it comes to something as important as consumer confidence, you cannot afford to be cheap.

This article was written by Mario McKellop for Small Business Pulse


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