The security case for going digital

Over the years there have been a growing number of requirements for businesses regarding the protection and management of data. As such, data security has become a major issue for many organisations. This is particularly true for those handling sensitive personal details such as health records or financial information.

At the same time, many businesses have to cope with more information, across more devices, than ever before. Additionally, the combination of physical paper and digital information makes data management and security more complex.

From a physical paper perspective, it's obvious that the most recent sensitive information of an enterprise is on the paper sitting on its printing devices. These pages include all the initiative currently underway – everything from strategies, scenarios, product and pricing plans, contracts and even financial or labour related issues. What is on the print/copy devices is what the company is working on, right now.

> See also: The race for complete digitisation

Hard-copy documents are one of the weakest links in the document chain. They can be scanned and shared without trace, and electronic documents can be printed and shared in hard copy.

It's easier to secure information electronically than through complex paper workflows. As such, digitisation can be highly effective in helping enhance enterprise content security.

There is always risk – according to a 2013 report by the European Parliament, security incidents with malicious motivation (excluding accidents and failures) cost European businesses a total of at least €935m a year. But, according to analyst firm Ovum, companies could reduce legal costs, fines and damages by 25% if they applied best practice procedures to records management, security and e-discovery.

Digitisation not only helps enforce legal security requirements, industry standards and organisational policies. It also helps with finding and retrieving information on demand, controlling access and confidentiality, comprehensive auditing and secure retention and destruction.

Physical paper documents are a fact of business life for the foreseeable future. The key is to help the business incorporate security and compliance as part of the shift to digital processes. There are always cases where paper is required, but even here security can be enhanced. For instance, whenever an employee prints, scans or faxes a document, that process can automatically be monitored and captured. This includes the date and time, the device used and full content of the document. This allows every document to be made available for search as well as alert processing, so IT or Information Assurance can monitor data flows for specific keywords or content, improving security.

> See also: NHS trust heads demand extra funding to achieve government's paperless initiative

The end result is that having a sound security plan in place to collect and store sensitive information is important for organisations of any size. In a digital office, it becomes easier to track potential data leaks. Investigations can be narrowed down to those who have accessed, printed, copied or scanned that information.

This approach allows digitally focused organisations to proactively manage the inherent risk in data security.

By Kevin Corne, Director, Lexmark Global Services UK & Ireland

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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