Regardless of the size of your business, you may need to protect several types of vital records. This may include your company’s operating statements and related documentation, your employees payroll documents, previous years tax returns, clients financial data and more. If these documents are lost or fall into the wrong hands, the effects can be disastrous. Now is the time to protect all of your company’s financial records using these tips.
1. Keep Digital Records
If you currently keep hard copies of financial records stored in a filing cabinet, cardboard storage boxes or other physical storage areas, you are exposing your business to data loss unnecessarily. Your business property may impacted by fire or water damage, pest infestation, windstorms, and more. Furthermore, the lock on a filing cabinet or other mechanisms can fail. Physical theft of paper documents is also a possibility. The solution is to digitize all of your business’s financial records so that they can be stored virtually. In addition to protecting your data, digital records can be a cost-saving and time-saving solution.
2. Utilize the Cloud
It is not enough to simply digitize records. Consider that storing a digital copy of your financial records on your own servers exposes them to the same type of physical damage as hard copies are exposed to. For example, fire or water damage can destroy digital data saved on your server. Cloud-based storage places your financial records in a secure, virtual environment. This type of storage eliminates the risk of physical damage to your data.
3. Use an Access Control System
Even when your documents are stored in the cloud, you must protect your physical environment using an access control system. Consider that many documents may still be in a hard copy form at any given time before they are converted into digital data. In addition, some data may easily be retrieved from digital storage solutions through your on-site computer systems. A quality access control system prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing a specific building or even in a single room. This system may be employee-specific as well. For example, only select individuals should be permitted in rooms where financial data about the company, clients and personnel are accessible.
4. Use Tech Security Measures
The possibility of hacking and other cyber crimes must also be considered and deterred. Some data may be captured or intercepted as it streams from one location to another. Utilize an effective antivirus solution, and ensure that it is kept up-to-date at all times. Require your employees to set a new, unique password for their systems on a monthly basis for added desktop security.
5. Keep Copies Safe
Your financial records are so vital to your business that you must plan ahead for issues related to corruption, system failure and even intentional damage from disgruntled employees. In addition to storing documents securing in the cloud, have a backup storage area for a second set of digital records. Ensure that all of your documents are encrypted and can only be accessed by authorized individuals.
6. Implement a Strict Shredding Policy
Even with a digital storage solution in place, you and your employees will still handle hard copies of documents containing sensitive information. After these documents have been converted to digital data and stored in the cloud, the physical documents must be destroyed. Institute a company-wide policy regarding shredding such documents. Utilize a professional shredding service that uses a cross-shredding technique and that destroys documents on-site.
7. Manage Business Finances Carefully
You and all authorized employees who have access to the company’s bank accounts, credit card accounts and other financial accounts should regularly monitor these accounts to identify suspicious activities. Set up electronic statements so that the finance companies do not expose your business to risks related to mail theft or loss of financial data through trash theft.
Protecting your company’s financial records requires ample planning, forethought and ongoing effort. If you are not currently taking all of these essential measures, now is the time to act. In addition to taking these steps, pay attention to new threats that may be developing. The best plan is to be proactive rather than reactive about data security and protection.