July 12, 2018

3 Types of Documents That Should be Kept Confidential

While most official communication is now done electronically and most corporate documents are kept in digital form, there is still plenty of physical data in circulation around offices world-wide.

Whether it is in the form of documents, thumb drives, hard disks or log books, this physical data needs to be protected and handled responsibly; especially if the data contains personal or confidential information. Just like companies have protocols, firewalls, passwords and other security measures to protect their digital data, they need to put in place the right processes and procedures to ensure their data is secure.  

The first step in the process is to identify what is considered confidential information in the workplace, and what to shred securely. Here are the top 3 types of documents you should protect. 

Documents with Employees’ & Clients’ Personal Information

  • What's Included: In Singapore, personal information is protected by the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and monitored by the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC). Personal data is information about an individual that can be used to identify him/her.  NRIC numbers, handphone numbers, home addresses, name, credit card numbers, etc. can all be considered personal information.
  • How to Protect it: Even when the documents or data cease to be useful to the organisation, this doesn’t mean that the information is no longer confidential. This means that the data needs to be disposed of securely and cannot be mixed in with other kinds of rubbish in the office. Work with a trusted information destruction partner to physically destroy both documents and physical data. 

Office Plans, Office IDs and Internal Procedure Manuals

  • What's Included: Every organisation should do their part to ensure the safety of everyone in their office. Documents with detailed office layouts are commonly found throughout offices to identify key exits, while some offices also make seating plans available to make colleagues easy to find. Likewise companies make documents like employee handbooks and other documents and forms related to internal processes and procedures readily available to their staff.
  • How to Protect it: Limit access to these documents and consider keeping them electronic. When stored digitally, store them on secure network drives and encourage employees to limit print-outs. Don't forget - even if certain changes are made to the office layout and a particular version is considered outdated, it is still important to ensure that the documents are destroyed so no one else can get their hands on it. Be sure to ensure all printed versions are securely shredded when not in use. 

Contracts and Commercial Documents

  • What's Included: When it comes to contracts, every detail of the arrangement should be treated with the utmost confidentiality for both your organisation and the third party’s benefit. If your contract has a confidentiality agreement, it could be rendered obsolete if an unauthorised person got their hands on the physical copy of the contract. Contracts are full of commercially sensitive information such as the nature of the arrangement, the value of the services offered/received in the agreement, the names of the main contracting parties, etc.
  • How to Protect it: Avoid sharing contracts broadly unless strictly required, and limit physical copies; consider using tools to sign contracts electronically in order to reduce unnecessary print-outs. Once you've backed up any digital copies, make sure the physical person is securely shredded.  

While these documents are some of the most important to securely store and shred, the easiest and safest way to reduce the risk of a data breach is to implement a secure document retention policy specific to your organisation's needs, as well as a Shred-it All Policy to ensure the secure disposal of unneeded documents. This takes the burden of deciding which documents are important enough to be shredded off your staff’s shoulders. 

Start Protecting Your Business 

To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard-drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.