4 Useful Strategies to Protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) can be a daunting task to manage for any business or organization. PII data refers to any information pertaining to the identity of an individual. Some PII examples can include a full name, address, telephone number, and date of birth. Some examples of Sensitive PII include social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers, credit card information, passport numbers, and email addresses.

Keeping sensitive personal information secure is crucial. Failure to do so can result in unfortunate consequences. Taking measures to protect PII information gives both employees and the business or organization peace of mind.

Why it’s Crucial to Protect Personally Identifiable Information

No matter how big your business or organization is, it’s important to comply with regulations and audits and many of these guidelines pertain to PII. Failure to do so can result in paying thousands or even millions of dollars in non-compliance penalties, plus the risk of potential lawsuits, loss of trust, and business interruptions.

1. Identify the PII your Company Manages

Start by identifying the PII your company manages. Most companies have basic information like bank details and login information, while government organizations might have more extensive information such as social security numbers, passport details, and license numbers. Knowing the information your company manages is a vital first step.

2. Assessing all the Places your PII is Stored

Having a concise record of all the locations where PII content is stored is another useful strategy. Stored data can typically be found in three location categories:

1) Data in use: This is the data employees use to conduct their jobs and is usually stored in a digital state.

2) Data at rest: This is the data kept or archived in locations like hard drives, laptops, databases, SharePoint, and web servers.

3) Data in motion: This is the data that transitions between locations. One example could be data transitioning from a local storage device to a cloud server or transitioning between employees and business partners by email.

As a side-tip, you can also dispose of old PII information that you are legally no longer required to maintain by establishing a retention schedule. For example, disposing of records of separated employees on a monthly basis. Not only will this eliminate clutter, and reduce operating and storage costs, but it also reduces the impact of potential cyber-attacks.

3. Formulate Employee Policies for Safekeeping Information

Annual identity theft of Americans costs $56 billion per year. That’s why it’s useful to incorporate employee policies, teaching your employees how to properly safeguard PII data and information. Give every employee a copy of your Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and have them sign a statement acknowledging they will agree to follow all the PII document’s policies.

4. Using ICARS Automated Redaction Software

Finally, it’s never a bad idea to enlist the help of technology such as automated redaction software. Our Intelligent Computer Assisted Redaction Solution (ICARS) allows for the processing of large backfiles of documents to classify them and locate Personally Identifiable Information on every page of every document while marking the PII content for redaction.  The computer assisted, systematic processing of content saves hundreds or thousands of hours of labor by providing an affordable and effective option to keep sensitive information safe while helping to mitigate compliance penalties and lawsuit risks.

Protect your Personally Identifiable Information with ICARS

We understand that handling sensitive data is a struggle for all organizations, including private companies and government agencies. Typically, the process of redacting and securing private information is very time-consuming and error-prone. By automating this process with ICARS, you can help your company remain PII compliant without draining budgetary dollars. Schedule a PII consultation discussion with us today to learn more!