Proper Data Disposal
We’re buried under data – both tangible and digital. Do you have a plan for disposing of it securely?
By Bryan Johnson, IT Director, Alliant National Title Insurance Company
We live in a world of data. The internet runs on it. Companies and governments collect it. Each person carries around a tiny data collection device in their pocket in the form of a smartphone, which catalogs our spending, socializing and travel habits.
Unsurprisingly, personal data is an important part of real estate transactions, and the business can involve the exchange of names, employment information, contact numbers, email addresses and, of course, financial information. Considering that trust is critical to any given transaction, real estate professionals should make all possible efforts to safeguard this personal information and properly secure or dispose of it as appropriate once a transaction is completed. Trash can on a laptop. 3d illustration stock photo
Formalize Your Policy
When thinking about customer data and how it should be handled, start from the beginning. Set up a formalized policy that will be the standard across your agency. Having a clear, step-by-step process will make it easier to reduce mistakes when handling data. It will also streamline your ability to bring people up to speed on your processes and procedures – ultimately saving time and money.
Local vs. Network Drives vs. Cloud Storage Services
Once you start actually disposing of your customers’ files, keep in mind that data can live in multiple locations. You may have files on your local work computer that also live on your company’s network or on a cloud storage service. To ensure a given file is gone for good, you need to erase it in all locations. Many network and cloud storage solutions will also still retain copies of deleted files in what is commonly called a recycle bin. If you intend to permanently delete your files, you will need to make sure they are purged from the recycle bin as well.
There is a lot of information stored on hard drives. Once you no longer need a particular drive, it is always a good idea to enlist the services of a professional data destruction company. Most major cities will have several companies from which to choose. These businesses can either physically shred your hard drives or even degauss them, which involves an incredibly powerful magnetic field that completely erases all data.
A Not So Paperless World
Although personal computing has been commonplace for more than 25 years, we live in a world where paper still flows and customer information still exists in a tangible form. Be sure to treat your clients’ physical information with the same care as you do their digital. To dispose of paper data, deploy a good shredder. After that, it is ideal to use the services of a professional recycler or data destruction provider.
Increased access to data is one of the great double-edged swords of the information age. While it has made conducting business easier, faster and more convenient, it has also left individuals and companies vulnerable to data breaches and fraud. By leveraging data effectively and safely, you will be able to conduct your real estate transactions with greater speed and dexterity. Just be sure you don’t mistakenly end up putting private information at risk!