How to Protect Confidential Information in the Office

Posted by Ryan Richard

Most offices have several types of confidential information. You may think that just because you aren’t a large company that employee and customer confidentiality isn’t a major issue. However, no matter the size of your company, you do have confidential information and security risks. Learn how to keep information confidential so that you aren’t liable for fines or lawsuits from employees and customers should their information get into the wrong hands.

Types of Confidential Information

Protect business information such as:

Employee Information

Any information you have on your employees should be limited to those who need access to it, such as those in human resources. Confidential business information examples include contact information, medical records, non-disclosure agreements and other agreements you may have had the employee sign, progress reports and any other information in an employee’s file.

Customer Information

Any customer information should remain confidential including but not limited to contact information, financial information including credit card information and information on purchases or services. If you are an attorney or doctor, case files are also confidential.

Financial Records

Your company’s financial records should also remain confidential, including bank account information, profits and losses, how much profit you make on products and services, employee payroll and employee benefit information.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets could range from a specific recipe to customer lists. Anything that has to do with how your company makes money on its products and services could be considered trade information.

Management Information

Management information might include your advertising plans, franchise agreements, operating agreements and other information that is pertinent to running your business. Some of these items could also be considered trade secrets.

Protect Confidential Information In The Workplace

Take several steps to protect confidential business documents. Some of these steps cost much less than the consequences of having private information get into the wrong hands.  Take these three steps to protect your business' most sensitive information.

1. Provide Employee Training

Employees should attend a confidentiality session during orientation. Furthermore, you should also provide refresher classes throughout the year. Depending on your business and the number of employees you have, you may want to have classes every six months or every year.

Have employees, including management, sign a “Handling confidential information best practices guidelines.” The guidelines should be reviewed at least twice a year and updated as needed.

2. Lock It Up

Keep all of your files locked up. Since employees do have to have access to some types of information, it should be kept in separate filing cabinets and in separate files on your computer.

For example, management information should only be accessible by management and should be kept separate from employee information. Employee information may be accessible by human resources and some management personnel.

3. Shred Obsolete Documents

When you have obsolete files, documents and digital storage, put the obsolete information into a locked shredding box. We provide locked boxes for files that are no longer needed. You insert the files and/or documents through a slot. No one should have access to the locked boxes.

When the boxes are full, we will bring our mobile shredding truck to your business. You will be able to watch as we take the files from your secure building to our secure shredding truck.

Once the files are in the truck, the documents are dumped into our shredders. The shredded documents are mixed with other business’s documents and then baled and taken to a trusted recycler. You will receive a certificate of destruction for your shredded documents and digital storage.

Contact Carolina Shred

If you do not use a professional shredding company or are not happy with your current shredding company, contact Carolina Shred to set up an appointment to discuss your needs.