Paper-Based Information Still Big Security Risk

    Dec 16, 2014

    Despite the lofty quest toward the paperless office, the majority of business information spends much, if not all, of its lifespan on paper. This became clear when a team at the University of British Columbia tried to collect original research data from a random set of 516 studies published between 1991 and 2011, reported Information Age. The team found that 80% of the data had been lost; it had started to disappear after two years at a rate of about 17%.

    Paper is still a big player in our world. According to Information Age, the Waste & Resources Action Programme estimates that the average office employee uses around 45 sheets of paper a day, half of which is immediately tossed. If not managed properly, that paper can become a significant security risk. The Information Risk Maturity Benchmark study conducted by Iron Mountain and PwC determined that employee management of paper records is the single greatest threat to information security.

    Removing paper from the mix may reduce much of that risk. But, organizations must ensure that their employees understand the risk and vulnerability of information, regardless of the medium on which it is recorded; educate and support them; and provide them with the tools they need to get it right, advised the report’s authors.

    Based on this study, the standards and best practices related to paper records remain relevant, even as the majority of our attention is usually focused on electronic record formats.

    Here then, are some of the resources available from ARMA International that assist in bringing control to the paper records in our midst:

    • Managing Active Business Records
    • Contracted Destruction for Records and Information Media
    • Guideline for Evaluating Offsite Records Storage Facilities
    • Retention Management for Records and Information
    • Establishing Alphabetic, Numeric and Subject Filing Systems
    • Records Management: Making the Transition from Paper to Electronic

    All of these titles are available for purchase through the ARMA International online bookstore at

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