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Whether it be trade secrets or internal documents, keeping classified files from leaking can be quite a daunting task. Bigger companies with complex structures and lots of busy offices can have an even harder time keeping information on a ‘‘need to know‘‘ basis. The pressure to keep information security airtight can be quite unnerving, especially when the company's reputation is at stake.
In fact, a recent study has shown that a only a little over a third of surveyed companies feel like they have the ability to prevent potential data leaks. As with any aspect of business, the key to keeping confidential documents truly confidential is constant review and improvement, so a double, or even triple check can prove to be beneficial in the long run. Here are a few boxes you need to tick before you can consider your office a leak-free zone.
Documents left in copy and fax machines, halls and meeting rooms, are the stumbling block of information security. Paper is an inevitable burden of every office, so much so that it‘s estimated that the average office employee spends around 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year. However, a well oiled document management system provides a work environment that is far less likely to suffer from frequent information leaks and confidentiality breaches.
Think about it, binders and filing cabinets don‘t have the potential to truly determine individual access and are far more difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis. The everyday handling of confidential documents by a number of employees leaves quite a bit of room for error, which is illustrated by the fact that more than a third of data breaches stem from human factors.
Creating an extensive access and permission strategy is absolutely imperative to running a tight ship, confidentiality-wise. Factoring in several types of criteria, such as pay grade, rank, department and seniority, as well as reflecting the nuances of the hierarchical structure of the company in the level of access of individual employees, are incredibly important steps in creating a confidentiality contingency plan.
Developing a role based access control plan reinforces the sense of personal accountability among employees, which is a huge factor in maintaining information security. In conjunction with the previous point, i.e. extensive digitalization, it makes the segregation of data (for example, between departments) far easier, as well as ensuring that any given document or piece of information is accessed only by those who require it.
Performing regular checks and being aware of what areas of your information security plan need tweaking is a crucial aspect of staying ahead of potential information leaks. Checking whether your employees are aware of their responsibilities under your confidentiality policy, as well as possibly offering training on the subject can be a worthy investment.
In addition to dividing up employees based on access permissions, a good practice is to classify documents based on the the level of importance and sensitivity. This makes predicting and perhaps even circumventing the potential repercussions of data breaches far simpler.
Another good precautionary step would be to create different document categories based on the type of information (contracts, invoices, internal reports, staff performance records, etc.) and to determine their level of risk of potential leaks, depending on the number of people that handle them, as well as how they are stored and disposed of.
Most importantly, the best way to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to preventing data breaches is to take steps to regularly perform assessments of risk, vulnerability and compliance with internal policies as well as local or international regulatory requirements.
Although companies that provide services which depend on dealing with especially sensitive information (like insurance, banking, healthcare, etc.) have more at stake when handling confidential information, learning the techniques to tackle and solve problems with information security is a vital aspect of maintaining the integrity and reputation of any business.