Do You Have a Security Plan for Your Paper Documents?

Do You Have a Security Plan for Your Paper Documents?

Even with today’s office technology and efforts to become paperless the use of paper in the average office continues to grow. So the need for a security policy for physical documents continues to be important. It might be even more important with the increasing threat of identity theft and corporate espionage.

An effective security plan for paper records requires that everyone in your office follows it. There can’t be any question that every employee is not fully aware of the policy and follows it without exception.  One misstep could lead to privacy law violations plus a loss of confidence in your business from customers.

Put Your Security Plan on Paper

When your physical document security plan is finished, it should be put into a document so all of your employees can read it and refer back to it on a regular basis. You should also require that every employee gets formal training on the plan. Furthermore, they should be required to sign an acknowledgment that they have been trained and agree to follow the security plan. This will reinforce the responsibility that each employee has to document protection, and it also helps you be compliant with components of federal and state privacy laws.

Review the Plan

Your document security plan should be reviewed at least annually. It may need to be amended from time to time as your business changes. Whether you make changes or not your employees should be required to review your paper document security plan and sign a confirmation that they have done so.  A quick retraining is also strongly recommended.

Consider These Important Components

  1. Have a shred everything policy. Shred every document before they are disposed of. Here’s why you should. One half of every document you either create or receive in your office has information on it that privacy laws require it be shredded before it’s thrown away. The time it would take to review every document, or the possibility that someone could make a mistake, supports a “play-it-safe” mentality. That means you should shred every document when it’s no longer needed.
  2. Locks should installed on all file rooms and file cabinets in your office to control access.  Locks should be locked at all times.  Different locks should be assigned to the files for each department.  One person should be responsible for the files in each department, and all should report to the one person that is oversees the following of the document security policy.   Or, access to file cabinets and file rooms must be limited to a select few individuals in the office and not to everyone.
  3. File drawers and file folder tabs should be labeled to ensure they are filed correctly. That way only the authorized staff has access to them.
  4. Files and documents should never be left unattended on desks or work areas.
  5. Personnel that are granted access to confidential or sensitive information must take measures to guard against casual viewing by others.
  6. Paper documents should never be allowed to be removed from the office without written approval from a manager.
  7. Office visitors should always be escorted and never have unsupervised access to physical company files.
  8. Create a printed document retention schedule so office and archived documents can be destroyed on a regular basis.
  9. If you store paper records off-site, or with an outsourced vendor, you need to make sure that there are proper save guards in place to protect the security of your information. This should be similar to the protections in your office. In addition to this, secure procedures should be in place whenever your paper business records are en route to and from the off-site storage location.

We hope that this information has been a good starting point to assist your business in developing a document security plan.

FileShred is a Connecticut based document shredding service that would be happy to help you develop a paper document security plan and a customized paper shredding program that meets your firm’s individual needs.  Give us a call or visit our website