When your company’s document management systems are breached, the productivity, profits and ultimately the survival of your company is compromised. If the privileged information with which your organisation is entrusted falls into the wrong hands, the reputation of your business can be severely damaged.

With this in mind, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned that it name and shame any company failing to adhere to its guidelines on data protection and will impose substantial fines on those who fall short of what is required.

Speaking recently at an event on healthcare efficiency, the ICO’s head of strategic liaison said he was “confounded by the disconnect between staff awareness and the number of breaches that occur”. So what can be done to safeguard your company from a data breach and the glare of the ICO?

First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the company to educate staff on the importance of data protection. The buck stops with the employer, and the burden of blame for any data breach will ultimately fall on the company and not the individual.

Therefore, it is essential that every member of staff, no matter how junior or senior, is made aware of the seriousness of data protection and is fully briefed on all company data and document management procedures that are imposed to protect information.

The procedures

There are a number of important policies that can be put in place in any company to assure the security of its data. It may not always be straightforward. Research shows that the responsibility for looking after paper documents is often spread across numerous departments or business areas.

In such cases, a highly effective first step to reduce the risk of a data breach is to give overall responsibility to one person or department. Make sure the role is assigned to people with the relevant seniority and skill set, and, importantly, that they have board-level backing to carry out this critical role effectively.

You must also:

  • Manage your data efficiently and understand the volume and complexity of the information you hold
  • Implement a detailed company plan for how information is handled and stored
  • Regularly review your data strategy.

Remember, a data breach will cost your company its time, money, reputation and possibly even its very existence. Don’t leave yourself exposed to a data breach. Start taking the appropriate preventative action now before it’s too late.