Are You Dealing with Your Customers’ Sensitive Information Properly?

The Importance In Secure Management Of Consumer Information

All businesses today will have some form of process in place to protect their customers’ information, but if your customers are your most important relationship, how can you make sure that you’re doing all you can to uphold your duties to them? Digitising your documents should be part of your answer.

More than losing your customer’s trust, a serious breach of the UK GDPR could cost you up to £17.5m or 4% of your total annual worldwide turnover. Therefore, we have put together some undeniable benefits of digitising your valuable paper records:

Increased security: Whilst documents exist in hard format alone, they are always at risk of loss, theft, or damage. By digitising your documents, this single point of failure is removed, as documents can be securely stored and backed up to ensure they are never at risk of permanent loss. You might be worried about cyber theft, but in both 2019 and 2020, there were more reported incidents of data breaches resulting from paperwork being lost or stolen than resulting from ransomware. According to the ICO, one London pharmacy was fined £275,000 for failing to ensure the security of special category data. The company left 500,000 documents in unlocked containers at the back of its premises, including the names, addresses, dates of birth, NHS numbers and medical information of multiple people.

For employees working remotely, most companies will use a virtual private network (VPN) to create an encrypted connection from the user’s computer to their company’s IT system. Accessing confidential electronic records from home without the correct security provisions in place may put businesses at risk of cyber theft and fraud. Article 32 of GDPR states that businesses should implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure document security. Meaning if employees are working from home and accessing confidential personal information, there must be appropriate security provisions in place, such as data encryption. Storetec’s cloud-based document management system FreeDocs allows for secure remote working as data encryption is a key feature of the database. Dedicated ‘Super Users’ on FreeDocs can also restrict user access. This means employees working remotely could potentially be restricted over printing, emailing, and accessing certain confidential documents. Being a cloud-based system, FreeDocs has the benefit of being accessible from any device with internet access from anywhere across the world.

Retention periods: It is your duty under GDPR not to keep personal information for longer than you need it – for most businesses, this means setting standard retention periods. But it can be difficult and time-consuming to comply if you hold physical paper files. You can automate the process with scanned files by applying different retention periods to different file types. Within FreeDocs Cloud, you will get notifications when files are coming up to their retention period; imagine the time and resources saved. Implementing a concrete policy helps to preserve compliance for the future and can help build trust with prospective clients or future customers.

Right of access: GDPR allows your customer to ask for a copy of any personal data you may hold on them. Think this won’t affect your business? Think again. Right of access complaints made up 37% of all data protection complaints in the UK last year, making it the top reason for complaints. Paper documents make it a lot harder to locate a file within an archive room within a limited amount of time. Our proprietary document management system, FreeDocs Cloud, gives you the ability to search millions of documents in a matter of seconds. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is applied to make the PDFs fully text searchable, allowing for a full keyword search over the database, bringing up any PDFs that contain the keyword. You can also search for multiple keywords using the ‘AND’ search function, such as name and date. This full-text search capability ensures you will be able to comply with any data requests from your customers within a limited time specified under GDPR.

Not just financial

Data breaches aren’t just about fines; the impact of a breach on an organisation’s reputation can be immense – 33% of businesses say they’ve lost customers and that it’s taken a lot of time and resources to put it right. Research has also found 41% of customers say they’ll never return to a business after a security issue, and 44% say they’ll stop spending at least temporarily. More than losing your customer’s trust, a serious breach of the UK GDPR could cost you up to £17.5m or 4% of your annual worldwide turnover. Don’t put your business at risk – get in touch with us today to speak about how we can help your data security and compliance. Take advantage of our document management consultancy service; we can work with you to review your archive and decide on the documentation which must be retained and what can be destroyed and recycled.

Contact us today to book a free on-site audit at your convenience. Otherwise, we are available for a remote call on Teams/Zoom or any other preferred platform.