Document Security For Your Business

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In today’s competitive environment, securing your data is critical and not just your online data that has been shown to be easily accessible by the right individuals but you also need to think about your documents – the pieces of paper that we still rely on.

I read an interesting article on ARS Technica the other day about AT&T Fined $25m for Data Breach after employees at an outsourced call center stole and subsequently sold customer data. While outsourcing is popular, how do you know how your data is being handled? Is someone making note of the data? Are there any safeguards in place to monitor (abnormal) data usage/queries?

In recent years another trend has been BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. While this may appear to cut costs for companies trying to eek out higher and higher returns and profits BYOD brings with it many hurdles for IT departments. Just search Google for the risks and benefits of BYOD to read both sides of the discussion.

Fact is we still rely on paper, and print out documents to simply pass them around and finally they end up in the garbage or recycle bin (hopefully in the recycle bin). But that paper could be gold in the right hands – paper creates risk.

According to DataLossDB (DataLossDB – Open Security Foundation), statistics published found that incorrect document disposal accounted for 6% of data breaches, e-mail accounted for 3%and stolen computer or laptop accounted for 14%. So paper handling while seemingly insignificant accounted for 6% of data breaches.

Who was committing these breached? Insiders – when looking at incidents by vector, accidental breaches by organization insiders accounted for 18% of the breaches. While the statistics do not point out what information is breached or how your people are part of the risk equation.

Overall the trend (according to DataLossDB) seems to be going down in terms of data breaches. Since 2006 data breaches escalated to a high point in 2012 from 643 reported to over 1,660. In 2015 that number fell to 1,037 – so either we are getting better at protecting our data or fewer organizations are reporting their breaches, hopefully the former. Public companies may report on data breaches to protect their customers (such as Target, Adobe HomeDepot US) but smaller companies and private companies are probably not reporting these breaches.

Document security – not just digital security but paper – needs to be an important part of your overall risk strategy, consider the type of documentation your business may be producing:

  • Sales figures and presentations
  • Contracts
  • Employee information
  • Business strategy
  • Plans, designs and blueprints
  • Proprietary procedures, processes and methodologies
  • Legal documents
  • Training documentation

While at first glance these may not seem important, but they can be. Consider presentations that are given for internal use, information found on these might be valuable to competitors or may provide insight into how the company is run and open the door for competition where there may be little to none currently.

Contracts are also critical, since they generally provide the key working information for all parties involved, including such confidential items such as pricing, or terms. Contracts may also include information about insurance, subcontracting and may even list client information.

Securing and destroying paper is critical in any business, and like every other asset should be handled correctly.

Destroying paper securely should be an easy proposition, but consider what you are doing today:

  • Is it being put into the general recycle box?
  • Are you using secure recycling services?
  • Do you use a commercial grade cross-cut shredder?
  • Do you just throw it out?

The simplest, and most cost effective method is to use a shredder, for business use a good quality cross-cut shredder should not cost more than $1,000.00.

If you decide to use a recycling service, ensure that it is a secure service rather that putting paper into your local municipalities recycling program.

It is also a good idea to put in guidelines for what type of documentation should be printed, and how it should be handled – what may seem like common sense can sometimes be far from it.

You may want to consider putting your networked printers behind a password for the general office so that all requests to print can be monitored

If you move to a paperless office, then ensure you have the right tools for your employees to make that leap. Online document storage and management allows you to track who is looking at documentation that may be critical to your business operations. Tools like PDF creators allow employees to convert their Office documents to more secure PDF formats that can contain encryption and a higher level of password protection.

Data security isn’t only protecting your online data – but also protecting the offline data, namely the paper that is being pushed.

Toughest Interview Question

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job search seeking employment concept word cloud background

What is the one question that most people dread on the interview? It is one that I like to ask, as do most recruiters:

Where do you see yourself in 5-years time

While there is no right or wrong answer, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. When I ask this question, I am hoping you will tell me that you want to be with my company and either on my team, or move around to another position. If I’m paying a recruiter $6k (or more) to hire you, I want to recover that cost over several years.
  2. I want to know that you want to grow in the company, maybe you will say “I want to be the Manager/Supervisor” or if you’re very bold you will tell me “I want your job”.
  3. I want to know that you will do what it takes to learn the job, the products and about the company. One great answer I got when I interviewed someone was “I want to become a supervisor, but I’d like to know my job well before I do”.

Here are some answers you should consider:

1. “My goal right now is to find a position at a company where I can grow and take on new challenges over time. Ultimately, I’d like to assume more management responsibilities and get involved in product strategy. But most importantly, I want to work for an organization where I can build a career.”

2. “I am driven to be the best at what I do and I want to work somewhere where I’ll have opportunities to develop my skills, take on interesting projects, and work with people I can really learn from. Some of the most innovative thinkers in the industry work here and that’s a big reason why I would love to build a career here.”

Visit the site for reasons why these two are great answers to give.

Regardless of how you answer this question, think about it and be prepared for it. Do not be too vague but also not too specific also do not raise red flags:

“I am a musician, and love playing the piano. I would like to do this full time at some point.”

Not a good answer.

Flying Economy Class

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GST 825-07It would be great if we could all fly Business Class – or even Singapore Airlines Suites Class however I suspect not everyone has the $18k to fly a better than Business/First class seat. Perhaps when I make my 2nd million, I’ll give it a go. Check out their site by clicking on the link here.

So you’re resigned to flying economy class. It can be bad, but there are some rules you should follow. Some are just common sense…

Rather than get into more economy rules of etiquette as they can be found all over the place here are a few that I live by. So should you.

If you are planning on drinking a lot and will be getting up to use the washroom every 30-minutes – DO NOT book a window seat and inconvenience the people to your right or left. Pick an aisle seat.

business-insider-number-sevenEveryone hates the middle seat – but depending on the plane configuration (2-3-2 or 3-3-3 or whatever it is) if you’re on the window or aisle, please DON’T HOG the arm rests! What’s a guy in the middle to do? You can’t sit with your arms folded the entire trip. In fact according to Business Insider if you’re in the middle YOU get BOTH the arm rests. Hey it’s not me saying this…

…if you’re in the middle, and there are two guys on either side of you and you are decidedly hetro this is probably the only time ever that it’s OK to be touchy-feely with the guy(s) beside you. 😉

Oh yah – if you have kids, we know they can get ancy on a flight but please take care of them. During take off and landing, keep them in check. In fact keep them in check all the time.

If you are flying economy, please wear cologne, deodorant and antiperspirant. You probably don’t want to sit for 4+ hours next to someone that smells like they have not taken a shower for a month. Be kind to your flying buddy. Smell nice but don’t douse yourself, too much can be just as bad.

I’m an introvert. Leave me alone. I don’t mind a bit of small talk, but once I clam up – that’s a sign I’m done talking. If you’re the kind of person that can’t shut-up — learn how to. Thank gawd for the iPod and other electronic devices, I can simply wear my headphones and everyone leaves me alone. Thank You Sony for the Walkman. Thank You Apple for the iPod.

Do you have some rules that you live by? Share them!

…oh, and another great article on Gizmodo about flying first…

Top 10 Ways To Succeed In Business

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Here is an excellent post from Six Figure Starts BLOG entitled Top 10 Ways To Succeed In Business.

I especially liked #7

Lead whatever initiatives you can: United Way Campaigns, Corporate Responsibility Taskforces, Softball team organizers … this allows you to get to know a lot of folks and putting on quality initiatives are always a good way to shine.

In every company I’ve worked I’ve always tried to participate in or lead initiatives – take for example in the last company I was with, I had volunteered to do first-round interviews of university students that would complete their one-year work experience with us.  Most of the people we interviewed and that were selected for a 2nd interview ended up being offered jobs after they graduated.  I cannot remember anyone that was hired that did not work out.

Getting involved shows pride in what you do and what your company does.  It also allows you to network with those within the company that you may not normally work with directly.

In fact, #3 on the list talks about just that – networking.

Here is the link to the post –

This post originally written on August 6, 2009

Welcome to

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Hello and Welcome to or perhaps you found me through

Things are a bit bare right now, I switched hosts and am in the process of recovering several years worth of posts, so please bear with me until this is done and I get the site back to its former glory.

In the meantime if you would like to reach out to me, you can find me…

Update 2/13/15 – well, it looks like 6-years of data cannot be simply imported, it will take a lot more work to move the posts over… so it looks like it will take some time.