Identify and Protect Vital Records to Avoid Business Icebergs

Topics: Govern Information

The importance of active data cannot be overstated. As a whole, it encompasses every aspect of an organization's ability to function — business systems, customer data and internal initiatives, to name a few. Vital records must be protected from the wrong hands but also completely accessible to those who need them.

If the status of sensitive business information inspires more anxiety than confidence, there's only one question to ask: Can the organization afford to risk its most valuable asset? Severe fines and brand damage barely scratch the surface of the bad news iceberg when data is lost or hijacked.

At first glance, it may be hard to see where security and accessibility overlap. One entails fortifying the fence while the other establishes gateways in said fence. Integrated solutions allow for both, providing a bird's eye view of the who, what and where attached to every piece of information whether it's stored on paper, digitally or in an offsite tape vault.

It's no secret that the vast majority of records that businesses are required by law to retain for a set number of years are not critical to daily operations. Most files will never be retrieved again until the retention clock strikes purge. They're included in records and information management (RIM) practices because compliance policies dictate that they must be. Plus, past information matters. Businesses never know when an audit, litigation or disaster will suddenly render it relevant.

Categorize Data

Tiered storage makes it simple to customize records management processes to reflect the frequency in which different types of information are used.

Inactive information that is archival in nature but has not yet reached retention requirements serves a company best in an offsite facility. This is a cost-effective way to save space in-house. At the same time, offsite records are still easily retrievable, either by physically transporting them or by having them scanned on demand. Though the integrity of this data must be protected, its dormant state merits lower technical security.

Vital records are used every day to support workflow, respond to customers and drive business. Without this information, those who request it cannot perform their jobs properly and significant delays ensue. As the lifeblood of the organization, files that fall under this category will be the first ones the organization needs to get up and running again if a disaster ever occurs.

Security is a Two-Way Street

Active records require safeguards and a strategic storage plan in order to maximize accessibility across the company while minimizing security risks. In other words, the most important information likely needs to be everywhere at once and out of harm's way should a cyberthreat or other catastrophe attempt to pay a visit. These integrated records management solutions account for both accessibility and protection.

1. Store offsite. Choose a local offsite storage facility that offers a climate-controlled environment with advanced security and fire suppression systems. Moving original media to this kind of facility guards it from dust, moisture, human error and almost every natural disaster imaginable. What's more, a user-friendly Web interface makes it easy to search and manage the full records inventory from anywhere.

The long-term benefits of an offsite program extend beyond external protections. A scalable storage program consolidates resources while giving the flexibility needed in today's business climate. Should the organization relocate to another city or enter a time of rapid expansion, it would retain full access and visibility of storage practices. A national storage and information management partner can even transport physical media using a single chain-of-custody for maximum security.

2. Use electronic document management (EDM). EDM gives full authority over who can access digital copies of vital records as well as tracking details for auditing purposes. As regulations change, records managers are able to systematically apply and implement new policies and practices for both digital and paper documents.

Digitizing active records helps streamline discovery and puts an organization's most necessary data right at the fingertips of personnel who need it. This dramatically reduces records request delays so departments run more efficiently.

3. Take a hybrid approach to data backup. Effective data recovery plans ought to account for the urgency with which certain business systems, payroll and other crucial information will need to be retrieved if disaster strikes. Say a fire destroys all onsite servers. The offsite backup will have all the information needed to rebuild the network, but how soon will the most urgent data be available if it's lumped in with a massive archive?

Organizations are required to back up their data for good reason. The smart approach is to use multiple methods so that vital records are almost instantly retrievable from a high-performance technical application, rather than caught in a bottleneck with dormant archives.

Vital records are an organization's biggest asset, but, in order to leverage the full potential, they have to protect them with all the might at their disposal. For many, a trusted partner with offsite facilities across the country and the expertise to understand an organization's unique operations is all the might needed to steer clear of security breaches and other business icebergs.

Do you have questions about data backup and recovery? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain’s Data Backup and Recovery team. You’ll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.

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