Authored by: Zakir Ahmed, Senior Vice President & GM - Asia Pacific & Japan at Kofax
With the modern workplace handling an enormous amount of sensitive information – personnel records, confidential customer information and even trade secrets – there’s a significant volume of data to protect. In this internet-connected world, it’s imperative businesses safeguard these critical assets, with the solution involving adoption of software tools alongside a change in behaviours.
There are five ways to protect private information in the workplace and improve a business’ security posture:
1. Impart best practice
It’s been widely reported that the biggest security risks in businesses come from users. Before you can successfully deploy any changes, you must train staff to handle sensitive data appropriately.
For instance, organisations face strict requirements under the GDPR for the management of records and data protection. Take steps to ensure staff are up-to-speed on the guidelines they must follow. Enforce rules including strong, unique passwords and rely on technological solutions such as rights managements systems to enforce access control. Only once you have a team thinking about privacy and security continually, can you make more fundamental changes.
2. Eliminate physical paper storage of private data
Paper records may offer a valuable backup solution, but they’re wholly inadequate, not to mention, risky should they be the backbone of your document management processes. With physical copies pose the risk of unauthorised access, even when kept under lock-and-key. A dedicated criminal could break into the building, an employee might misuse access or inadvertently allow others to view private records.
A digital environment is a better option. Consider document digitisation software. For example, with solutions offering automatic PDF converter functionality, you can scan documents to a selected folder and immediately convert it to a fully searchable document. With digital copies, you can shift paper records to secure off-site storage or simply destroy them, in line with your business’ records management policies.
3. Secure sensitive digitised documents
Digitising documents alone isn’t enough; what you do after you scan them into your system matters, too. If you don't secure them, any unauthorised individual could view or steal the data. So, alongside measures including deploying good network security, you should also secure the documents themselves. PDF solutions make this easy – for instance, you can edit a PDF to include password protections. It’s like locking the filing cabinet in the storeroom, you must require a key to get into the most sensitive documents your business owns.
4. Limit access with software
Locking down documents with passwords is a useful step, but it can also prove inefficient in workplaces thriving on collaboration. In work situations where many hands touch private records, a better access control system is necessary to guarantee the sanctity of the information. Just like some businesses require a "sign in, sign out" policy for personnel accessing sensitive areas of materials, you can do the same with your documents. Look to encrypt your PDFs and specify whose certificates may act as the key to unlock the document. Where needed, also include restrictions on editing, so those who only need to view a document cannot change information. When you guarantee only the right eyes see certain information, keeping it safe becomes routine.
5. Take a proactive approach to security
Security practices cannot be a "set it and forget it". Continuously revisit them to ensure they’re always fit for purpose and effective. Always be on the lookout for signs of trouble and follow up on potential breaches or any mishandling of private information by employees. Aim to stop problems before they start rather than finding a solution after the fact.
Empower Staff to Safeguard Private Data in the Workplace
By safeguarding the human element and empowering your staff with the right tools to protect privacy, building a more secure workplace is easy. Today, PDF-related solutions are advanced and easy-to-use. They can be rapidly rolled out across the business, and allow new protocols to be deployed quickly. Most crucially, they’re not a burden on the budget. They present a very cost-effective way for small and medium sized businesses to shore up document management workflows with smart functionality for better security. There are many security solutions of varying complexity businesses can deploy – by far, PDF solutions for document security are simple, effective and an easy win.