The headlines have dwindled about the devastating hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires in the United States. However, there is a long road ahead to restoring normalcy.
No matter your region or climate, no one is exempt from the possibility of disaster and its potential impact. Water or fire could damage anyone’s home, office, warehouse, other structures, electronic devices and/or paper files. Should this happen, would you be able to gather all legal documents related to your property from a remote computer? Consider the records you’ll need to submit when filing for assistance or an insurance claim, such as proof of ownership.
We recommend these document management precautions to make future recovery processes somewhat smoother:
Tips for securing personal records:
When saving any document containing sensitive information, make personal security your number one concern. Secure electronic documents with a password or application security encryption.
A recent cautionary tale—
Equifax (a credit reporting service) was infiltrated by individuals who stole sensitive information from millions of users. This crime was committed despite the tight security measures the company had in place. As a result, the stolen information is on the dark web, available to the highest bidder.
You can secure your personal information for both hard and soft (digital) copies of documents with these safeguard rituals:
- Place hard copy documents in a fireproof safe or in a banking safety deposit box.
Digital files are not sufficient for all forms of information. You’ll need to keep hard copies of records such as birth certificates, deeds, and passports. Store them alongside blank check stock in a secured, fireproof safe. Reconcile credit card and loan statements as quickly as possible. Then, shred and purge the documents immediately. If you need to retain the hard copies of any records, store them in the safe.
- Move digital documents containing any sensitive information off of your internet-connected computer.
This includes any file containing your social security number, date of birth, credit card numbers, or other financial information. This data is vulnerable to access by cyber thieves looking to steal and sell your identity.
- Save documents with this sensitive information on a USB flash drive or external hard drive. And make sure you also have the documents also on a secondary backup source in case the primary is destroyed or lost.
- Where possible, use the application in which a document was created to encrypt the file with a password and redact the private information.
- Compress the documents into a Zip or RAR, and require a password to decompress the file. Keep in mind, the more complex your password, the less likely it will be for criminals to crack. Once the documents have been stored in an external medium, place the digital storage device in your safe.
- When using password protection to secure your documents, always include at least one of each character type in the password. That is—upper case, lower case, numeral, and special character.
Here’s one example of an easy to remember, strong password:
Password: [email protected]?
Phrase: You ate My Cat?
Every system is susceptible to intrusion. However, you can minimize the possibility of exposure when you follow these basic security measures.
Warehousing Hard Copies
Businesses must retain certain documents for a number of years to meet regulatory compliances as set by governmental and financial institutions. What’s the best method to do this? We recommend warehousing hard copy documents for the minimum amount of time required by law. The cost of warehousing hard copy documents on- or off-premise can be an ongoing expense that burdens profitability. When third parties store hard copies, they may charge an insurance fee in case the files are destroyed by fire or some other means.
Document Management Applications
This is where the ROI (Return on Investment) comes into play for document management applications. Images are not only stored electronically and secured, but they also have minimal impact on profit and loss statements. Storing the electronic documents on digital media drops the cost significantly compared to paying for physical square footage required for banker boxes, file cabinets or other grouped stacks of paper. Another benefit of using such an application is being able to quickly replicate images without the overhead costs of paper, toner and longtime storage space fees.
These types of applications provide easy access to the electronic documents via web interfaces, smartphone apps and on-premise applications. They also offer interesting features like redaction, version control, and annotation mark-ups. Because the electronic documents are stored on digital media, the cost to back up files to multiple remote storage mediums is minimal compared to that of renting or purchasing physical space.
Companies affected by disasters that use paper-based transactions incur significant replication fees from outside sources. Most companies that need to replicate these documents do so not by choice, but as a result of regulatory compliance requirements.
Those involved in the latest disasters that have made the leap to digital world quickly returned to business as usual. How did they do it? They had previously set up nightly replications of electronic documents to off-site digital storage areas. With a few clicks of a mouse, they are able to restore years’ worth of images from remote storage locations.
An Ounce of Prevention
Nobody wants to be the business or nonprofit organization that had to close its doors since they weren’t able to continue operations due to disaster unpreparedness. Do what it takes to be the champion who receives the accolades for doing it right and continues to support the mission and keep your staff employed.
After disaster strikes, you want to be able to comfort your customers, vendors, or constituents and announce, “We were faced with adversity, we overcame it and we’re solid to move on!”
At MicroAccounting, we are here to assist your company, offering our solutions, strategies, and services as needed for your goals. Five minutes of your day to speak with us could save you thousands of dollars per year. Contact us for more information about taking your organization paperless, streamlining business processes and reducing the overall burden of transaction processing.