5 Simple Ways to Secure Your Small Business Documents
1. Password protect important files
It astounds me how many small business owners keep critical documents on their laptops, potentially exposing sensitive business data if they are lost or stolen. As an added layer of security, you can password protect your documents. To prevent an unauthorised user from opening or making changes, use the password protection feature in Microsoft Word and Excel. You can protect PDF files in Adobe Acrobat to prevent them from being opened, printed, edited, or copied. When sending out contracts, protecting a PDF document from edits should become standard practise.
2. Make digital copies
To keep important documents safe, you need more than a locked filing cabinet. While paper documents and hard copies are convenient, having a digital backup is essential. Purchase a good scanner and convert your important documents to digital files. Scan all important documents and save them to a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox, JustCloud, or SugarSync. Cloud storage allows files to be saved on remote servers that are accessible via the internet. You won’t have to worry about your files if a natural disaster, fire, or break-in occurs, or if your computer’s hard drive fails. Most cloud-based business storage services also enable you to track who has accessed files and whether or not the information has been shared.
3. Use eSignatures
Remember when you needed a client’s signature and you had to scan, print, and email a document, then they had to print, sign, and email it back? This procedure enabled sensitive data to be sent via email, posing a security risk. Those days are over, thanks to electronic signatures, also known as eSignatures, which allow documents to be legally signed digitally. DocuSign and AdobeSign allow your small business to have documents signed instantly without the need for printing.
4. Put your smartphone to work
Get rid of the clutter that comes with keeping paper receipts. Take pictures of your business-related purchases with your smartphone. Services such as Shoeboxed and Expensify can make it easier to track expenses. Get your receipts emailed to your business account when you shop at places like Staples or Office Depot. You should receive a notification on your smartphone confirming receipt.
5. Create better internal policies
Put policies in place that will become best practises for your small business. Share your internal policies with your team to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Don’t leave sensitive information on the printer for anyone to find. If you print to a shared printer, retrieve your document as soon as possible. If you scan and email sensitive documents, consult with your IT professional to ensure that the data is encrypted and that the printer regularly removes archived files.
- Use your best judgement to determine which files must be kept and establish policies for how long the documents should be kept.
- Shred unnecessary documents, such as ten-year-old employee records that may contain their social security numbers. If you need to keep a copy for any reason, save it in a password-protected file in your cloud storage.
- Purchase a good shredder. Make certain that important paper documents are shredded rather than recycled. To avoid the possibility of documents being reassembled, use cross-cut shredding rather than strip-cut shredding.
- If an employee leaves, revoke their network access immediately to prevent sensitive business documents from being downloaded.
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