The Do's and Don'ts of Cleaning Electronic Files

Your first year in business has been a whirlwind. After a year of everything from hiring staff and signing new clients to moving office spaces and expanding operations, your files are looking a little haggard.

Your network needs a digital clean up. As tempting as it is to throw outdated electronic files into the digital trash bin (who doesn't love hearing that "paper" crumple!) and hit delete, that's not quite the way to get rid of the files safely.

Should a cybercriminal be able to access, steal or destroy your business's data (even the outdated files), you will be held liable for the ensuing damages. Should employee or client confidentiality be broken, you can be sued for negligence.

To protect your company (and yourself) from the effects of illegal digital incursion, get cyber liability coverage. Cyber insurance will cover the costs of the data breach and will repay the company, employees and clients for direct losses.

To keep your company on the up-and-up and away from the underworld of a cybercriminal, here are the do's and don'ts of cleaning electronic files.


  • Back it up! Before editing or deleting any business files, back up the data. You can back up company data using an external hard drive or in the cloud. You might be asking, "Why do I need to back up data I'm going to delete?" The answer to that question is: You don't know if you will need to reference that file in the future. It's a good rule of thumb to keep retired files for a minimum of one year before destroying them.
  • Separate files into folders. Though it's initially easier to save files directly to the desktop, knowing what needs to be kept or tossed can get confusing. And, not to mention, keeping confidential files saved to the desktop makes it much easier for someone (in the office or via server) to see and steal the files. By having files sorted into password-protected folders, you are safeguarding your business against the nefarious dealings of the cybercriminal.
  • Empty the digital trash can. Do not leave a full trash can on your desktop applications. As soon as you move an outdated file into the trash bin, delete it.
  • Purge the hard drive. Before getting rid of computer equipment, degauss the hard drive. Iron Mountain writes that "degaussing magnetically erases electronic information."


  • Never throw old computer equipment in the dumpster without wiping the hard drive. According to Iron Mountain, "dumpster diving for improperly disposed hard copy media, acquisition of improperly sanitized electronic media, and keyboard and laboratory reconstruction of improperly sanitized media are rich sources of illicit information that put businesses and clients at risk." Remember, you will need to clear and purge the hard drive before having the equipment recycled or thrown away.
  • Avoid saving files to the desktop. The files will be easily accessible and client confidentiality will be null and void.

No matter how safe you are in your business dealings, things can still get by you. To prepare for such an event, get cyber liability coverage with CyberPolicy.

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