What every office manager needs to know about data security

Flooded office... Scan Film or Store: What every office manager needs to know about data securityWhat would happen if you lost all your data? Sorry, perhaps we should have started with something a little gentler. Cup of tea? Biscuit?

No one likes to talk about data security. Just like no one likes to talk about insurance or funeral planning or what sausages are really made of.

It’s almost bad luck, isn’t it? Like the mere mention of the concept might summon a disaster, much like saying the name Candy Man out loud (as an aside, can you believe it’s been 25 years since that film came out??).

Thing is, and you might want to brace yourself for this, more than 60% of companies never recover from a major loss of data.

Now you may think that your data is perfectly secure, thank you very much – you’ve got the latest systems installed, you use the Cloud and all that sort of high tech malarky.

But here’s the thing: what about your printed data? That’s right, just because it’s old fashion paper and ink, doesn’t means it’s not data – or that it can’t cause havoc if it’s lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed.

Before you give up reading in despair, there is hope! Here’s our handy guide to protecting your printed data from pretty much everything except an invasion of data eating alien life forms.

Keep it dry

Paper and water do not make good bed fellows. Too much moisture and you’ll end up with papers that stick together, go mouldy or even start turning to pulp, making them unreadable.

Keep it ventilated

A badly ventilated room is likely to get damp simply because there’s a degree of moisture in the atmosphere, and therefore you’re going to end up with the same problems, especially the mould.

Get it scanned

If there’s a disaster at your office – fire, flood, plague of paper eating locusts – you’re going to wish you had copies of everything, aren’t you? Ideally copies that the locusts won’t want to eat. Also, anything printed on a thermo-printer (like till receipts, for example) will fade over time. If you’ve got boxes of archived expenses in your storeroom, you might want to check and see whether they’re blank yet.

Destroy it properly

Simply chucking a barrowload of old box files on the recycling pile is not enough – haven’t you watched any spy movies? Sensitive paperwork has a way of getting into the wrong hands. Destruction is a far safer option, and if you want to be 100% sure no ones going to go rifling through your secrets (or your customers’ secrets), you’re best off getting them professionally cross-shredded and pulped.

Incidentally, the same goes for microfilm and microfiche. Given that the images on these are roughly a centimetre wide, using a regular shredder will at best lop an image in half, leaving an awful lot that can still be read and understood. The only way to properly destroy them is via incineration. And before you go hauling your galvanised garden burner out of the shed, it’s worth noting that microfilm and microfiche burn at 2000 degrees and release dangerous pathogens so if the heat doesn’t kill you the fumes will! Best leave that to the professionals.

Store it offsite

Finally, for those documents you’re obliged to keep in their original form for a certain period of time, we’re back to the issues of damp and ventilation. Oh, and theft as well. And human error (well, it’s not easy keeping track of all those papers, is it?). The best solution is professional offsite storage in a secure, monitored and alarmed facility with an advanced barcode tracking system and on demand retrieval services. (FYI: we might know someone who can help with this.)

So there we are – a few simple tips to help protect your data. We hope your business remains disaster free this year. But if you want to make sure that you’re prepared for every eventually, do come and talk to us. It’ll be a whole lot cheaper than trying to recover from a data security problem.

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How long do I need to keep my business records?

How long should business records be kept?“How long do I need to keep my business records?” It’s a question we’re asked fairly often – but probably not often enough.

Some people assume they need to hold on to every last scrap of paper like a demented hoarder, and the consequences can be alarming.

Our director once visited a potential client who had records dating back to the Ark stored in the upper rooms of the company’s office.

The weight of these endless files was actually bowing the floor – and, in turn, the ceiling above the heads of the poor employees below, who daren’t venture into the store room for fear of the entire lot collapsing like something from a disaster movie.

As it happens, many records need only be kept for a few years – though there are others that you should hold on to for a lot longer than you might think.

Here are just a few facts for you…

  • COSHH records need to be kept for 40 years (which is the average lifespan of a bare eyed cockatoo, animal lovers)
  • Contractor time sheets should be kept for a year following transfer to your accounting system…. but those required for revenue purposes must legally be kept for six years.
  • Accident books should be kept for six years after the last entry (or Joe Pasquale will hunt you down and break your leg*)
  • Unsuccessful quotations should be kept for one year, but for successful ones it’s only until payment of invoice and audit.

And that’s just a start! Confused? Don’t worry. To make life a little simpler, we’ve compiled this handy guide which should help you figure out what you can bin and what you can’t.

Of course, that’s not the only way we can help. Because once you’ve decided what needs to be filed and what can be scrapped, we can do three things:

  • Document storage – so you don’t have to worry about the ceiling caving in. Our facilities are alarmed, protected and monitored 24/7, giving you complete peace of mind.
  • Document scanning – to create digital records that are much easier to access. We’ll even train you and your staff to use the software to maximum effect.
  • Secure data destruction – because chucking private client records and sensitive financial data in the skip behind the office is a really bad idea.

Give our friendly team a call today to find out how we can help you avoid a storage nightmare.

(*Ok, we made this bit up.)

Schools are back – time for a clear out!

September Office Clear Out neededListen! Can you hear that? Yes, that empty, echoey sound. Don’t recognise it, do you? Allow us to remind you – it’s called silence, something that for parents has been sorely lacking over the last few weeks. Now the kids are back at school, life can get back to normal. Well, after the chaos has been cleared anyway.

Spring may be the traditional time for a clear out, but we think September is a much more sensible option. After all, you’ve undoubtedly got either a wrecked house to put back together or an office that’s been rather neglected since that final school bell rang way, waaaaay back in July. Having a back-to-school / back-to-work clear out is pretty therapeutic (honest) and will at the very least help you delay the start of actual work for a day or two.

So, how can we help? Well, one thing we offer here at Scan Film or Store is the gift of space i.e. document scanning. We can scan anything from photos to receipts, old bank statements to the kids’ first pre-school drawings, archived employee records to… well, you get the picture. Anything that’s currently clogging up dusty shelves, filing cabinets or quite possibly whole rooms where no one dares to venture.

Here’s the science bit:

  • We use top quality Bell & Howell, Kodak and Fujitsu document scanning equipment and are ISO 9001 certified, so you’ll always get accurate, high-quality results.
  • We can output digital images in .pdf, pdf/a, .tif or .jpg format, in colour, greyscale or black and white.
  • We also offer a full indexing service and optical character recognition (OCR) of .pdf documents, creating ‘digital filing cabinets’ and readable, searchable documents.

Pretty snazzy, right?

There are then three options for the originals. We could give them back to you, although that would rather defeat the object. Instead, option two is that we can store them in our secure, dry and protected premises in Bridgwater or Yeovil. We use an advanced barcode tracking system, logging everything within our auditable document storage system, so they’ll always be easy to find and retrieve.

Or, option three, if you don’t actually need your originals anymore, is that we can destroy them for you. And we don’t mean chuck them in the bin out back – this is high tech stuff, with cross shredding and pulping (the pulp is then recycled, so it’s good for the environment too – bonus). We can also destroy CDs and DVDs, computer hard drives, microfilm and lots of other things, so do add those to you ‘get rid of’ list too.

If you need help decluttering your home or office, give us a ring on 0800 008 7229  or email info@scan-film-store.co.uk and we can talk you through the best options to suit your needs and your budget (the initial chat is free and without obligation, of course). After all, it’ll be Christmas before you know it, so you need to make room for all those presents!

Shredders Grimm – Terrifying Stories of Data Destruction Disasters

Data Destruction DisastersWhen it comes to data or document destruction you may think hitting “delete” or shredding is sufficient to protect your data.

This month we are here to share some terrifying tales of what happened when data destruction went wrong.

Secure data destruction should be a key part of a document management process. All too often businesses leave it to chance and could therefore be just minutes away from featuring in their own horror story about customer data getting into the wrong hands.

So with that in mind, are you sitting comfortably and ready for some real life stories that will keep you awake at night thinking about whether or not you disposed of your data correctly?

Let’s begin…

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How to declutter your office – and boost business efficiency

How to declutter your office - and boost business efficiencyClutter is bad for your business. Seriously – it’s probably costing you money as you read this.

For a start, it takes up space. Assuming that you pay for your premises in some way, unnecessary paperwork is effectively squatting.

Clutter also makes you inefficient. How long do you spend looking for documents you know you filed “sensibly” a couple of months ago but now can’t find?

And it’s stressful, isn’t it? For you and for your staff, who are probably as demoralised by chaos as you are.

If you’re shifting uncomfortably in your seat right now, don’t worry – you’re definitely not alone! But scheduling in a declutter or spring clean soon would be a good idea. After all, it’s the right time of year for it.

“But I need all this paperwork!” you may be saying. And maybe you’re right. But do you need it languishing in flimsy archive boxes or rows of rusty filing cabinets?

Here are three things to ask yourself:

Do I need it at all? If the answer is no, get rid of it. If it’s sensitive, make sure it’s properly destroyed so you don’t run into security issues.

Do I need it on site? A safe and secure storage facility could well be the answer – just make sure it’s one with a good barcoding, cataloguing and retrieval system.

Do I need it in hard copy? If not, scanning it will reduce its physical impact without you losing the content you need.

No one likes spring cleaning, but we all love an uncluttered, efficient workspace. And at least it will be done – until next year, anyway.

If you’d like us to help you assess your business data and how it can be more efficiently stored, expertly scanned or securely destroyed, contact the team on 0800 008 7229 for a no obligation assessment.

How safe is your customer data?

Secure Data Destruction from Scan Film or StoreThere seems to be almost monthly press coverage about a household name having to apologise and reassure its customers that their personal data is safe after a successful hacking attempt on its website or computer systems.

The positive piece in this is that it is raising the general awareness to businesses and consumers of the risks inherent in holding personal information on websites, social media channels and other online systems.

This should ensure that businesses in particular increase their investment in protecting customer data held in this way from this kind of attack.

 

 

What’s often forgotten about with these high profile cases is that there is a significant amount of personal client data held in other formats and on other medium which is also at risk of being accessed or falling into the wrong hands. Personal information held as paper records in filing cabinets or cupboards, on laptops, PCs, phones and other electronic devices as well as external hard drives and memory sticks is all vulnerable and needs to be protected.

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This microfiche will self destruct in 30 seconds!

secure microfiche destructionIn spy novels ensuring top secret information is securely destroyed once no longer in use is easy…. a brief recorded message and then up it goes in smoke!

If only it was that easy to protect unwanted data held on Microfilm and Microfiche from getting into the wrong hands in the real world.

New digital technology provides a more secure alternative to organizations such as banks, hospitals and government bodies for storing sensitive and confidential data but many still hold vast amounts of out of date data on these older media that needs to be securely destroyed.

Incineration will ensure the total destruction of both the microfiche or microfilm and the data held on it however, the intense heat created during the incineration process and pathogens released means that it must be handled by a specialist company such as Scan Film or Store.

Additionally, the sensitive nature of the information held and the obligations on the organizations holding it to comply with data security legislation means that they require a specialist partner to plan and manage the entire process in order to provide the necessary audit trail.

 

It is our expertise in the field of high security data destruction that led to our involvement in the top secret project below:

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