Although we're far more comfortable using less paper in the format of newspaper and mailing letters, the workplace is still holding onto piles of paper. As of 2017, only 25% of organizations run a totally paper-free environment. Surprisingly, even with the introduction of technology, the usage of paper products has actually increased by 126% in the last 20 years. The average office worker continues to use a staggering 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year and 45% ends up in the trash by the end of the day.
Benefits of Going Paper Free
Going paperless comes with many added benefits including increased productivity, cost savings, accessibility, and security. Electronic documents are much more secure than printed paper. For example, digital files can be encrypted, rendering them unreadable. They can also be protected by various access controls that can set viewing privileges to only those who need it, tracking anyone who accesses it.
When it comes to paper documents, there is no way to see who has viewed or copied it, and the only way to keep it secure is behind lock and key. Highly regulated industries such as healthcare, finance and education become easy targets for dumpster diving thieves. However - going paper free does not eliminate the risk of a data breach, in many cases it makes it even greater.
Protecting Paperless Data
Along with the many benefits of going paper free, organizations must also face the obvious risks of using electronic data. Implementing proper cyber-security controls is critical with network security and encryption. However, the risk that comes when taking IT resources out of service must also be addressed.
A poorly secured end-of-life program can instantly make all the work that went into securing the network worthless. When hard drives and other IT hardware components that contain confidential data are removed from service, they must be securely destroyed or overwritten. This stage can be easily overlooked when looking to recycle or resell computer equipment, and is often a weak link in the security chain.
Many organizations rely on third party experts to properly erase, resell or recycle their data-containing devices when taken offline. Finding the right partner will ensure the process is done both securely and efficiently. If a data breach occurs after a device is resold or sent for recycling, the original owner is held liable, no matter who they sent the equipment to and what promises were made.
For this reason, IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) vendors must be held to the same data security standards expected of the original organization. Privacy regulated or environmentally-conscious businesses can look for industry certifications like e-Stewards and R2 to help ensure equipment is handled both securely and safely in accordance with all data security and environmental disposal regulations.
When going paperless, it may be overwhelming to ensure all of your electronic data is secured through every phase of its lifecycle. SEAM offers certified, transparent and controlled IT asset resale and recycling to businesses and municipalities in South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and beyond. Contact us for a quote to learn how we can help your paperless data stay secure, all the way through the end of its existence.