4 Common Mistakes Made When Handling Sensitive Documents

In this day and age, all businesses should be informed on how to handle confidential information – no matter what the industry is, the size of the company or the scope of work the business operates in – all employees should be up to date and in the know on how to properly dispose of private information. This avoids common mistakes made when handling sensitive documents.


Here are the 4 most common mistakes companies make when handling sensitive information:


Error #1 – Not limiting / controlling employee’s access to private or confidential documents.

Regardless of whether it’s paper documents or digital documents, you should always document control access with passwords (that need to be regularly changed and updated) or by using firewalls or encryption software. Yes, it’s true that most businesses deal with digital files, but there are still many industries that still work with hard copies, and in order for them to maintain the safety of the hard copies, they should be locked away in a safe or locked filing cabinet with limited access when not in use.

Error #2 – Not having a policy in place that protects private documents.

There is a simple solution to minimise the risk of experiencing a data breach under GDPR, and that is to implement a new policy that will dictate how long your company should store private or sensitive documents and records. It is actually recommended that all confidential files are destroyed the moment they are no longer needed.  Each industry has different tenure on documents, e.g. HR files need to be kept for 10 years.  But once files aren’t needed any more, they should be securely disposed of with the correct shredder that will cut up the paper to the most appropriate cut size. Our blog on ‘How to Choose a Shredder’ sheds some light on how to choose and what shred size is most appropriate per industry.

Error #3 – Not training your employees on the proper handling of sensitive documents.

This is an easy step – give your employees training on the risks they could face if they don’t handle confidential documents properly. It is so important to explain to workers how they can protect not only the company, but themselves, by shredding documents and destroying information on storage devices. Teach them how to use secure passwords, and when to destroy these documents. Show them the new process you have implemented on keeping the office safe and ask them if they have any other ideas on how to improve security in the office.

Error #4 – Using cheap machines to shred paper documents.

Cheap or knock off shredders will absolutely not do the job you need them to do. Store bought shredders are not equipped to handle large volumes of paper, and they will break as soon as the first accidental staple runs through the machine. These machines are notorious for breakdowns and frequent jams, which goes to show that taking the easy way out only makes more work for you in the long run.  So if time is of the essence and you value your security, consult with the experts to get a guide on the right shredder to suit the profile of your business, number of users and volume of material to be shredded.


All of these mistakes and errors are easily avoidable by ensuring you follow the steps in this blog – and if you think we missed a mistake, let us know below!

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