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Worth a Pound of Cure: Using Modern Technology to Protect Your Important Documents

Information is power! Whether you are a business or an individual, making sure that you don’t misplace or lose valuable information — or worse, that your information doesn’t get stolen and used by the wrong people — is going to be the highest priority for IT departments in 2016. Be sure to heed these ten ways to protect yourself, your documents, and your business from data loss and destruction.

Scan Them

If you’re still living in the 1980s and have piles of important hard copies everywhere (instead of having your 2,000 documents safely stored in digital form) scan those documents and make sure you have them stored electronically somewhere safe. Don’t let them get yellow, or coffee-stained, or chewed up by your dog – scan them.

Hard Drives & CDs

Always, always, always make sure you have backups for your computer, whether on another hard drive, an external drive, or on CDs. If you don’t, you’re only a power failure or crash away from destitution. Unless travelling, also be careful to not fall into the trap of using thumb drives all the time – the smaller the type of storage device you’re using, the easier it will be to misplace and lose forever.

Consider Tape Storage

Magnetic tape may seem like a thing of the past, but it can dramatically decrease your storage costs, especially if you need to protect or backup a large amount of information. Although tape storage is less readily accessible than hard drive or CD storage, it can hold many times more information. If you have many computers that you need to back up every day or weekly, you might want to consider backing them up using a magnetic tape-based system.

Put Them on the Cloud

Backing up your stuff online is a really good idea, especially if you need your information to be saved and synced often. If, for instance, you have a large website, especially one where you might need to store and save edited user information, backing up on a cloud server (aka remote backups) is a great way to let experts handle that large amount of information in a safe place dedicated towards information storage.

Password Enable Them

If you’re working in a large company you’ll want to make sure that only certain people are given access to both read and/or edit some documents. If you’re an individual, you can just password protect important documents that you don’t want seen by prying eyes individually, but if you’re a business, you may want to invest in a document management system.

Use a Digital Signature

Using a digital signature can protect both your documents and your rights. These days not only documents, but information is stolen more and more. Make sure that everyone knows what you’ve said, and that it’s definitely you that said it, by using a digital signature.

Encrypt Them

Most document systems, whether for Microsoft, Mac, or Linux, operation systems have simple password-enabled encryption processes which allow you to set up passwords to open documents, and passwords to give editing authority only to the holder. If you have extremely sensitive information, you may want to use additional open-source encryption software, or invest in other encryption software.

Encrypt Travel Drives and Emails

Protecting information that is sent through the internet or sent home with your employees is very important as well, especially if your employees work remotely or on their home computer. Even if you’re not using your own email server, it’s important to encrypt any type of file with important information. Hackers have gotten a lot smarter about cracking into email servers, and companies do not always have the most stringent protection policies–worse still is when those companies’ employees fail to follow security guidelines. Don’t place your documents completely into the hands of others. Take steps to additionally protect any information you’ve entrusted to others.

Protect Your Mobile Devices

Mobile devices have become increasingly targeted by hackers and viruses as vulnerable ways to access a company’s or an individual’s private information. Make sure that your cell phone is protected, and if your company allows BYOD, make sure those devices are also protected. Mobile security solutions are imperative to protecting yourself in an age where anything with an internet connection is vulnerable to hacking.

Contracts and Training

One important thing to consider if you have a business is that disgruntled former employees or those looking to use your valuable information to turn a profit (especially higher-level employees who may have access to extremely sensitive or valuable information) have a lot of power. Kevin Mitnick is one of the most infamous perpetrators of social engineering, also known as “the human hack”, where criminals will feign friendship and support to obtain passwords in real life via snooping and word of mouth. One way you can make sure that you do not lose valuable information is by requiring your employees, especially higher-level employees, to attend training that provides information on potential hazards and sensible protections. Furthermore, requiring employees to sign contracts that prohibit them from sharing or using information for anything but company business is a smart way to cover all your bases.

Take these tips to heart and don’t wait until after you’ve had your documents or information stolen, lost, or damaged – take preemptive measures to protect yourself and your information. Review your options to protect yourself and choose the best ones that suit yours and your business’s needs.

Image used with permission via Wikipedia

Written By

Andy is a tech writer from Boise, ID. He enjoys wine, beer, and being drunk--but unfortunately is on a health-conscious kick at the moment, meaning he'll be drinking neither any time soon. Follow him on Twitter @AndyO_TheHammer

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