Thursday, January 12, 2012

Does your reprographics company have policies and procedures in place regarding the confidentiality and security of customer documents and files?

To Reprographers!

This morning, I received an e-mail from a gentlemen who is actively involved in real estate development and design ….. in Florida. He’s a veteran; he has been in business for quite a number of years. He asked me to share his “concerns” with reprographers. Which I’m going to do, in just a minute.

He was not a customer of my former company. He inadvertently came across “Reprographics 101” when he was doing a Google-search for information about “reprographics security.” Although it’s been very rare for a “customer of reprographers” to visit our blog, this was one of those times when that happened.

His concerns, as addressed in the e-mail he sent me, have to do with “security” and “confidentiality” ….. pertaining to “documents” and “files” that reprographers receive from their customers.


Okay, here’s the body of his e-mail:

My name is xxxx xxxxx and I am the President of xxxxxx Group in Florida.

I ran across your blog during a search for "reprographics security." And ... although I did not find on your site, what I was looking for, I did want to take time to mention what a good job you have done. I found it to be interesting reading.

I also noticed that you mentioned, "This blog is intended for reprographers, for vendors who sell to reprographers and for analysts and investors who are interested in learning more about the reprographics industry."

I am not a reprographer but rather a person who routinely uses reprographic services for construction drawings, etc. So - I wondered, if I were to share an issue with you via email, that you might consider mentioning it on your blog. For obvious reasons, I would prefer to remain anonymous.

My passion is in home design. In addition to home design, my primary background involves Local Area Network Security, Wide Area Network Security and Telecommunications in general.

Here are my issues:

Designers, such as myself and architects, are often concerned about what happens to their data once a reprographer is finished with it. Many of the files given to a reprographer are done so with the idea that they are never to distribute them to anyone.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Once files are saved, they are vulnerable. By this, I mean that they are open to any one of the following possible security breaches:

1. Hackers can download client's confidential work and then exploit it in a number of ways;

2. Bored or unethical owners or employees can view, print and/or forward a client's confidential work long after the job has completed;

3. Retired computer equipment with hard drives that are either sold or set to the curb, continue to store a client's work and are therefore vulnerable to data harvesting by data brokers (companies who strip data like this in pursuit of valuable information).

It's time that the reprographics industry understand this, and takes it seriously, so that, when a client asks them to delete the files afterwards, the client can be reasonably assured that his/her wishes are being met.

Without self-policing, the problem will only get worse, which will lead to regulations; in fact, all it will take is someone (like myself), to be burned by a reprographer's lack of security or unkept promise to delete files, and the legislative process will begin. If you agree and would consider weighing in on this through your blog, you may help more than you'll ever know.

Thank you for your time.


Blog Author's further comments:

To the Reprographer Community, I do want to let you know that I responded to this “customer”, stating that most reprographics companies do have policies and procedures in place about “maintaining the confidentiality” of hard-copy documents and digital files submitted to them by their customers, and that most reprographics companies do have policies and procedures – and systems – in place to deal with security (and hacking) issues.

But, I did use the word, “most” rather than the word, “all”, because it is highly likely that not all reprographers; (a) have policies and standard operating systems and procedures in place, and (b) even for those that do, there’s the chance that not all of their team members have been briefed on the importance of the issues of “confidentiality” and “security.”

So, for those of you who have not yet thought through these issues, or, worse yet, haven’t ever thought about them (or are unaware these issues are important to customers!), take note, they are important!

As most every Reprographer knows, the key word in relationships is “TRUST”. If a customer cannot trust that you will keep his/her information confidential and/or cannot trust that you’ve done your homework and put into effect appropriate security procedures/measures, you WILL, eventually, lose that customer.

Finally, I don’t know which reprographics firm this customer has been using, but it does sound to me like “he’s not feeling the love.”

No comments:

Post a Comment