It is common to have sensitive paperwork in digital form. The most surprising practice is emailing bank statements, pictures of drivers licenses, loan applications which will have social security numbers, addresses, names, birthdates and other potentially harmful information. Emails will travel across multiple systems before it hits its final destination. This means there are systems that scanned and log email activity to troubleshooting purposes. In addition to that, most companies will archive the emails they receive for legal and or compliance reason. The point I am trying to make here is your information did not just go from your email to email recipient. The sensitive information you sent reached them in an unprotected fashion. If you fax it, the receiving fax system will save the pages and email it to the bank’s processing center. I recommend not emailing it to them. Instead upload it to a cloud based storage provider and share it with the email recipient. Once they have a copy of the paperwork, you can delete it from the cloud drive or remove their access. This is a better option because the cloud provider will provide some level of security around it. The best option is to encrypted the data before uploading it and have the mortgage company decrypt it on their end but I have yet to meet one that will do this or provide a secured website where the files can be uploaded to. If this is not an option, then I recommend zipping the files and password protecting them. This is not ideal because those passwords could be cracked, but its better than sending them without any protection.
You do not have to be an expert, but you must understand the concept of what you are being asked to do and how it will work. Ask questions every time someone is asking you to send them something personal of yours or your loved ones.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How can sending this information impact me or my loved ones?
- Is this the most secure method available of sending this information?
- Do I really need to do this?
The last question seems like it should be first but some times after looking at how this could impact you, you may decide to not to move forward.
Storing digital paper work in the Cloud
The idea of storing your personal information in the cloud might sound scary and this is a good thing. Think about what you are putting out there and how it is protected. It is important to read the cloud storage agreement and make sure you understand it. The key things to remember about cloud storage is your data is replicated and moved across multiple systems across the states and possibly the globe. By default, your documents are not shared with anyone but that does not mean you are the only one who has access. Once it is in the cloud, the cloud provider can look at your data.
Storing your Pictures in the Cloud
Most of us have smartphones and love to take pictures. We take more pictures with our phones than with our cameras. When my camera broke a couple years ago, I did not replace it. The megapixels on my phone are not as good but they are good enough and I enjoyed the convenience of the built in camera in my smart phone. Your pictures will find their way off of your phone and over to the cloud. Unless you are a celebrity, no one really cares about your pictures as much as you do but you should protect them. When your pictures are placed in the cloud, they are not shared with anyone but remember you are storing your pictures on someone else’s computer. Others will have access. If you have taken pictures that should not be seen by anyone else, then they should not go into the cloud. If you decide that you still want to do it, make sure you read your cloud storage providers policy about nudity and pornographic pictures. You can also encrypt the images before uploading them. Set a reminder to review your shared settings. This will help you prevent losing track of who has access.