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A Guide To Going Paperless For Government & Defense: Keeping Information Secure

June 9, 2022

In this day and age, just about everything is done electronically. From paying your bills to filing your taxes, you can now do all of these things online with the click of a button. 

So, it's no surprise that more and more businesses are making the switch from paper-based systems to electronic systems.

This also plays into the importance of keeping sensitive information secure.

According to Varonis, 80% of organizations plan to increase security spending for their digital files and documents. And the average cost per lost or stolen record in a data breach is $150.

One way to keep your sensitive and personally identifiable information (PII) safe and secure is by going paperless.

In this blog post, we'll discuss some of the benefits of going paperless for government organizations and defense contractors. Among others, you’ll learn:

  • What Is Sensitive Information And How To Keep It Secure?
  • So, How Do You Secure Sensitive Data And Documents As A Government Organization Or Public Sector?
  • How To Deal With Customer Security Challenges By Going Paperless Across Government Departments
  • How to Adopt a Document Record Management System As A Government Or Defense Sector

What Is Sensitive Information And How To Keep It Secure?

Sensitive information is any data that could put an individual or organization at risk if it was accessed by unauthorized individuals. 

This information, unlike public information, is not gathered from unrestricted directories. And it does not include any data obtained lawfully through government records. 

As such, exposure or breach of sensitive data could result in potentially harmful consequences, including both monetary and reputational damages.  

graphic showing how information spreads

Sensitive information is classified into three categories: 

  • Personal information.
  • Business information.
  • Classified information. 

Each category of sensitive data requires different handling procedures to protect it from unauthorized access or disclosure.

Let's take a closer look at each category for examples of sensitive information and more info.

Personal information

Personal information refers to any information or data used to identify an individual. Such as full name, Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number, and so on. 

Personal information is also commonly known as personally identifiable information (PII).

PII is the most common type of data breached by hackers, so it's important to take special care to protect it. 

One way to do this is by using encryption technology to scramble or encrypt sensitive data so that it can't be read without the correct decryption key.

Encrypted sensitive information on a document

Business information

This is any type of information that is not publicly available and could cause harm to a company's competitive position.

Examples of business information include a company's trade secrets (e.g. formulas, customer lists, pricing information) or financial data (e.g. profit/loss statements, budget proposals) , which would be considered business information.

Classified Information

Classified information is a type of sensitive information with clearance from the highest level of government security. 

It is protected by law and its unauthorized disclosure can have serious consequences. 

This is something you’d want to be redacting in your communications, depending on with whom you’re communicating.

The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can cause serious damage to national security, and it is a federal crime to leak classified information.

Here’s what happens in that case.

What Happens If Sensitive Information Is Breached Or Gets Out?

If sensitive information is breached, the consequences can be serious. 

If that happens, here’s how you might be impacted, as a government organization or public sector:

  • Financial loss: This is the most immediate damage a company can face. In fact, of all data breaches, 71% are usually financially motivated. Financial loss can come in many forms, direct loss of a company’s money, the cost of repairing the damage, compensation to customers, and fines from regulators.
  • Loss of customers: The organization may lose customers if they are unable to protect their data. The company may lose customers’ trust, who could decide to take their business elsewhere.
  • Reputational damage: Reputational damage means no one is willing to work with you. It can result in a loss of customers, revenue, and market share
  • Lawsuits: The organization may be sued by customers or shareholders if they suffer financial loss or damage to their reputation as a result of the breach.

In some cases, due to these damages, the company may even end up going out of business.

So, How Do You Secure Sensitive Data And Documents As A Government Organization Or Public Sector?

What do you do if you’re a governmental organization or a defense contractor and want to make sure your customer information doesn’t leak?

When it comes to securing your sensitive data, there are a few steps you can follow:

Know the type of information you have

The first step is knowing what information you have and where it is stored. 

This includes both paper and digital files. You should have a good understanding of what information is sensitive and needs to be protected.

Assess your risks

Identify the potential threats and vulnerabilities to your data security.

It’s important to identify what could potentially harm your data. 

This includes both external and internal threats

External threats include things like hackers and cybercriminals, while internal threats are posed by employees or contractors who have access to your data. 

You also need to identify your vulnerabilities, which could include things like weak passwords or outdated software.

We’ll cover a few potential methods you can prevent internal threats below!

Implement security measures

Put in place effective security measures to protect your data from threats.

Once you’ve identified the risks, it’s important to put in place security measures to mitigate those risks. This includes things like firewalls, antivirus software, and strong passwords.

Train your employees

Make sure your employees know how to protect sensitive data and are aware of the security measures in place.

Your employees are your first line of defense when it comes to data security. They need to be aware of the risks and know how to protect their data. You should also have a security policy in place that outlines the specific security measures employees need to take.

Also worth looking into how a clean desk policy can help your governmental organization.

Regularly review your security plan

Keep your security plan up-to-date and regularly review it to ensure it’s effective.

It’s important to constantly reassess your security measures to ensure they are still effective. 

Things like new malware threats and changes in technology can impact your security plan. You should also review your data inventory to make sure it’s up-to-date.

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The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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How To Deal With Customer Security Challenges By Going Paperless Across Government Departments

One way to help protect your company from data breaches is to go paperless

Whether you’re a governmental organization, a non-government organization, or a defense contractor, going paperless can help many of your departments.

When you go paperless, all of your sensitive information is stored electronically. In other words, you’d be digitizing most of your operations and documents.

Making it more difficult for hackers to access your data, as well as making it easier for you to track who has accessed your information.

Before we cover how to transition to a fully paperless mode of operation as a government organization, let’s first quickly uncover what going paperless means, exactly.

But what exactly is paperless—and why is it important?

A paperless system is a system in which all documents and communications are stored electronically. This can include emails, text messages, digital files, and the many documents you generate or manage daily.

For government and defense organizations, one of the biggest benefits of going paperless has to do with keeping information secure.

Other several benefits of using a paperless document management system also include:

  • Increased security – Paper documents can be easily misplaced or stolen. A digital document management system can keep your information secure by reducing the risk of it being misplaced or stolen.
  • Improved organization – Digital documents can be quickly and easily sorted and filed. This can help improve organizational efficiency.
  • Reduced costs – Paper documents require storage space and can be expensive to reproduce. Digital documents do not require physical storage space and can be reproduced at a fraction of the cost of paper documents.
  • Increased efficiency – A paperless document management system can help your employees work more efficiently by allowing them to access documents from any computer with internet access.
  • And more - See our guide on 8 essential elements of a good document management service for more examples.

Uses cases of paperless systems

Government/defense and sensitive information contexts are two key areas where paperless systems can be extremely beneficial

In government, going paperless can help reduce the risk of data breaches and improve efficiency. In defense, going paperless can help speed up communication and make it easier to track inventory.

Other industry examples of where paperless systems can be useful include:

  1. Healthcare industry: Paperless systems can help improve the security of patient data and make it easier to track medical records.
  2. Legal industry: Paperless systems can help improve the security of confidential information and make it easier to track case files.
  3. Retail industry: Paperless systems can help reduce the risk of credit card fraud and make it easier to track inventory.
  4. Education industry: Paperless systems can help improve the security of student data and make it easier to track grades and transcripts.
  5. Banking industry: Paperless systems can help reduce the risk of identity theft and make it easier to track account activity.
  6. Manufacturing industry: Paperless systems can help improve communication and make it easier to track inventory.
  7. Non-profit industry: Paperless systems can help improve the security of donor data and make it easier to track donations.

Now, let’s get practical. Here’s what you need to know about investing in a document record management system as a governmental organization.

How to Adopt a Document Record Management System As A Government Or Defense Sector

A document management system is a computer system used to track, manage and store electronic documents and digital images. They are used in businesses to improve organizational efficiency. Typically, in part of your document management lifecycle system.

management phases of a document lifecycle system

When it comes to adopting a document record management system, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your business. 

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Understand the types of records that you have currently

Most businesses have a lot of paper records that need to be digitized. 

The first step is to identify all the records that need to be scanned and stored in a digital format. 

For government organizations, this includes documents like:

  • Benefits and welfare documentation.
  • Private citizen information.
  • Audit reports.
  • Social care documentation.
  • Invoices.
  • Equipment management reports.
  • Confidential information.
  • And any other documents that are currently in paper form.

If you notice a lot of repeating document types (e.g. contracts) that only need a few changes to generate, chances are, you can automate those.

Instead of manually drafting files and documents, document automation uses smart fields in generating electronic documents.

For example, in a standardized document template, a document generation system will grab your client’s information (e.g. first name, address, contact info, etc.) and craft the document automatically. If you’re generating a lot of documents daily, this can be a huge time save.

document automation representation

Wondering if document automation right for you?

See our full guide on 5 factors that document automation possible for more information.

Create a document retention policy

Every business should have a document retention policy that outlines how long documents should be kept and when they can be destroyed. 

This policy will help to ensure that all documents are properly disposed of and that no confidential information is leaked.

Choose the right software

There are many different types of software that can be used for going paperless. You need to find one that fits your needs and is compatible with your current system.

Learn how to evaluate a document management solution for more info on choosing the right software for you as a government organization or contractor.

Connect the electronic document and records management system (EDRMS) and start creating workflows

Once you have chosen the right software, it’s time to connect your EDRMS to your office system. 

This will allow you to automatically upload documents to your digital archive. In addition, it will allow you to create workflows that will streamline your business operations.

Here, you’ll want to consider where your customer information is coming from and what other software you use daily that a document generation system would help with.

For example, your CRM, connected databases, data extraction tools, and more.

How Inkit Render Helps Government And Defense Sectors Keep Information Secure And Go Paperless

Hope this guide to going paperless was helpful!

If you are thinking of making the switch to a paperless office, Inkit Render can help make the transition easier.  All the while keeping your confidential information protected.

Designed specifically for federal government and its entities, we know the importance of managing secure documents. Which is why we focus so much on AES 256 end-to-end encryption, role-based access controls, expiry and document self-destruction, 2FA support, and more.

All this, to automate and secure most of your important sensitive documents. In short, Render helps simplify paperless processes for public sector organizations, while keeping your information safe and sound.

Need more info on how you can securely generate and store documents as a governmental sector?

See how Inkit Render helps federal government and its public sector organizations here!

Out-of-the-box PDF generation
The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
By submitting this form, I confirm that I have read and understood Inkit's Privacy Policy.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.