How to Handle Confidential Documents in the Office

Posted by Ryan Richard

One your entire organization learns how to handle confidential documents in the office, your trade secrets, employee information and customer information will be much safer. Part of handling confidential information best practices guidelines is knowing what documents are confidential. In addition to the physical handling and access of paper and digital information, employees should sign non-disclosure agreements (“NDA”). In some cases, you may need third parties who work with your company to sign NDAs.

Control Access to Documents and Digital Media

Control who accesses physical and digital documents. For physical documents, use separate filing cabinets with locks. Only those who need access to the documents in a certain cabinet should have a key.

As for digital media, protect files with passwords and firewalls. You might also use an encryption program in the event that passwords and/or firewalls are compromised or if digital media, such as USB sticks, are lost. Some confidential documents examples that might be kept in either type of media include:

  • Employee personnel information. This information should be accessible by only those in HR who need it.

  • Trade secrets. These may include manufacturing processes and recipes, customer lists, and other secret information. Only those that need the formulas and lists should have access.

  • Management information such as employee reports, private conversations about the work environment, hiring and firing practices and other management information. Again, only those who need access to this type of information should have a key to the filing cabinet or password to information stored digitally.

If you require employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement, all of these types of documents should be listed on it, even if the employee does not have access to the documents.

Train Your Employees

Usually, when information has been leaked, it’s because an employee leaked it. Sometimes, it may be an inadvertent slip of the tongue. In other cases, information may have been disseminated purposefully. Either way, your business may be hurt because of the leak. By training your employees and requiring them to sign NDAs, you may preventing identity theft of your most sensitive information.

Destruction of Confidential Documents

You may be wondering how to destroy confidential documents without having the wrong employees see those documents. The solution is simple. Just contact Carolina Shred to set up a regularly scheduled document shredding service. We provide you with locked shred bins. When the bins are full, we will either pick them up and take them to our secure facility to shred them, or we will bring our mobile shredding truck right to your door. The documents do not leave the locked boxes until they are dumped into the shredder.

If you have digital media including hard drives that need to be shredded, we also shred those. For compliance records, you will receive a certificate of destruction for everything that has been shredded.

Pros and Cons About Paper Files

Paper files are just as apt to get leaked as digital files. Depending on your setup, paper files may be easier or harder to leak than digital media. If the documents are kept under lock and key, they will be more difficult to get into the wrong hands. However, if those files are not kept locked, anyone may be able to access them.

Quick Tips About Paper Records

Some things to remember when dealing with paper records include:

  • Copy machines may keep a copy of the document.

  • Fax machines are not secure unless you and the person you are faxing to have encrypted machines.

  • Make sure scanned documents are secured once they are converted to digital media.

  • Documents may be stolen – they should be kept locked up at all times, even while waiting to be shredded.

Contact Carolina Shred

Contact Carolina Shred to set up an appointment regarding our mobile shredding services, one-time purges, and other shredding services.