Last month, I wrote a blog entitled “How to Create a Paperless Office – Your Questions Answered”.   In that discussion, I answered two of the three biggest questions my clients ask when it comes to digitizing their paper; those being the pro’s and con’s of moving to a paperless office and how to actually go about digitizing the paper.  I left the third question, and arguably the most challenging one, for its own separate discussion.  Most everyone is onboard with the idea of reducing paper clutter and improving their office efficiency through the use of digital filing systems.

The million-dollar question is, if I store my information electronically, how can I keep it safe? 

data securityWith all of the cyber security threats and identity theft reports that we see on the news, this is a very valid and important question.  Information security for small businesses and home offices starts with the basics.  Make sure your computer infrastructure not only has the proper hardware but that the hardware is set up correctly.  CNET published a great article on keeping your home or small network secure.  The article outlined the following steps including encrypt your Wi-Fi network, change important default settings, turn off remote access features, update firmware and be sure to log out of hardware, such as your router, after making changes.  Certainly one of the first steps to protecting your data is limiting how easily it can be accessed from unwanted intruders outside of your system.

Another important step to keep your information safe is to enhance the security on your PC.  5 Simple Steps to Protect Your PC from Hackers will help you put some additional layers of defense in place on your PC to make it harder for those with mal-intent to access data stored on your computer.  Install a firewall, antivirus software, and anti-spyware software.  Then, be sure to use complex and secure passwords and change them every 90 days.

Once your information is protected locally, you should be sure to complete routine system backups to prevent against loss.  Such loss could result from unintentionally deleting files, the mechanical failure of hardware, and water damage or other accidents to name.  Enterprise Features published a concise and easy to read article about the different types of backups with a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages for each.

Lastly, once you have chosen the type or types of backups that are most appropriate to safeguard your information, the looming question is whether or not to store your information locally or in the cloud.  The nature of your business or data itself may very well dictate the answer to this question.  Data Storage: Cloud vs Hardware provides some valuable insight into the pros and cons of these two storage options.  Certainly, cloud based options provide users with access to their data anywhere that an Internet connection can be accessed.  A good rule of thumb is to consider whether the information that you are placing in the cloud could result in adverse consequences to your business, your clients or yourself if that information was to be compromised.  Business who have sensitive client information, including those in the financial and medical industries, must adhere strictly to HIPPA guidelines and will be required to use alternative means for data storage.

In summary, no digital environment is without risk.  However, there are some basic safeguards that you can put in place to improve your information security.  Become familiar with your industry guidelines/regulations and consider the worst case scenario when building your infrastructure, and you will keep your risk to a minimum.   Watch for my upcoming blog on Password security or subscribe to my monthly blog located to the right or bottom of this page.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact The Streamlined Office.  We offer process solutions for small business and individuals and can help you create a custom solution for your digital filing needs.