Document Confidentiality: How Your Company Can Handle It

confidential papers being shredded

In a highly competitive market, businesses typically focus on improving the products and services to stay in operation. But besides that, the confidentiality of company information is just as important. Failure to protect such critical information can result in loss of customer’s trust and even the entire business itself.

Every business has its top priority information to protect. But in general, it comes down into three categories: business information, management information, and employee information.

These are also protected under the laws of the state. Such laws help prevent the misuse of confidential information to commit illegal actions such as discrimination and fraud. Let’s explore five strategies you can do to keep all of your confidential documents secure.

1. Have a destruction policy in place

Keeping documents that should go in the shredder puts your company at great risk. Help your employees easily identify what is sensitive information and what isn’t by implementing a predefined information destruction policy. The policy should clearly define what to destroy and when to do it. Indicate the day-to-day documents that should be in the shedding bins no matter what. Instead of your staff deciding, they should place documents in the shredding bins without second thoughts.

The policy should also define the life cycle of documents. Set clear retention rules for your medical records, employee records, and tax files. They should only be stored for a particular period and stored securely.

2. Train your employees

One thing that companies should acknowledge is that human error can lead to information leaks and reputational damage. Your people may be your best asset, but they can also be the biggest risk for the protection of confidential information. This is why you should invest in appropriate employee training.

Your people should know how to handle the confidential documents on hand properly. Explain the level of confidentiality of all information would help your employees understand the importance of data protection practices, from destroying the documents to using strong passwords.

Employee training can be provided in-house or through a third-party company. Hiring a good external team would be best if you need assistance with more complex IT aspects such as phishing attacks or passwords. As for the non-technological aspects of handling information, in-house training is more recommended.

stack of confidential papers

3. Practice proper labeling

Labeling might sound like a small thing, but it can make all the difference. All documents kept in digital and physical storage should be labeled properly. Simply write “confidential” when handing out documents to another person or sending an email.

In addition, make it clear that the receiver knows you’re disclosing the sensitive information under a signed confidentiality agreement. Ensure to keep all sensitive and non-sensitive information separate when disclosing or sharing them. Lastly, any shared confidential information shouldn’t be repeated or duplicated if not necessary.

4. Secure the document delivery

In case you have to send hard copies, it’s imperative to find and hire a credible document courier. This can reduce the risks of information leaks or misuse. For instance, if you’re handling a law firm, it’s indispensable to find a reputable process server company that can provide industry-standard services.

Depending on your business, you can also take advantage of tracked services to keep tabs on files in transit. Check for conditions and terms regarding who will be liable in case there’s a problem. This can reassure all parties that the documents will be delivered securely.

5. Implement strict control access

When handling physical documents, only those who require access should have keys or door passwords to the filing cabinets or storage areas. For instance, your HR team should be the primary individuals who have access to employee personnel information. Digital data should be protected with firewalls and passwords.

You can also utilize an encryption program to add a layer of security. Identify what confidential information should be kept in either type of media. Some examples are management information like hiring and firing practices, private work conversations, employee reports, and trade secrets such as customer lists and manufacturing processes. You should have a list of the types of documents that will require a non-disclosure agreement upon access.

Prevention is the best tactic in terms of confidentiality. From implementing stricter policies to taking quick action, a company and its team should know what steps to take. By guaranteeing the security of your business documents, you can show your employees, customers, and clients that you value trust and respect. At the same time, you get to fulfill your company’s responsibility with the laws to protect sensitive data.

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