HoGo Document Protection: 10 Questions w/ Digital Privacy Expert John Sileo

By Mike Spinney, HoGo (Document Protection Simplified)

John Sileo is a kindred spirit when it comes to fighting the good fight against data breach and identity theft. I met John about seven years ago when we were both part of a joint project to raise awareness over the issue of physical document protection and we’ve been friends ever since. I admire what John does to help make people more aware of their personal risk and take steps to prevent identify theft. A two-time victim of identify theft, John has refused to wallow in his victimization and instead has become a privacy expert in his own right and taken his powerful, personal message to audiences around the world raising identity theft prevention awareness as one of the issues premiere speakers.

In addition to keynote speaking and his video series, Burning Questions, John is a frequent media source for stories about privacy and identity theft. He was in my area last month for to give a series of keynote presentations for the University of Massachusetts’ privacy awareness program so I took the opportunity to meet with John and ask him ten questions about his work and the issue of data privacy and information protection.

HoGo:  Your personal ID theft story is not uncommon. Is there anything that might have caused you to take better care of your personal information prior to your first experience? Continue Reading…

Privacy Means Profit: Lock Your Business Docs


The following is an excerpt from John’s latest book Privacy Means Profit. To learn more and to purchase the book, visit our website

Locking up sensitive documents is one of the most important and underutilized ways to protect company data. Of the individuals surveyed by the Ponemon Institute, 56 percent state that over 50 percent of their company’s sensitive or confidential information is contained within paper documents. Since 49 percent of all breaches involved paper, locking up what cannot be eliminated or destroyed is essential. To get you firmly into the business mind-set of thinking like a spy, start with this simple three-step classification process:

1. Classification: Set up a classification scheme. For example, you might have four levels of access: public, internal, classified, and top secret.

  • Public documents are the only documents meant to be seen by outsiders (the public). This might include sales and marketing materials, websites, public filings, and the like.
  • Internal documents are those appropriate for employees of the company to see, but inappropriate for outsiders. These are generally not high-risk documents, still it’s better to keep them confidential, just in case.
  • Classified documents are a security risk if the wrong people see them, either internally or externally. Only certain employees and executives would have access to these documents (see step 2). Classified documents might include human resource files,customer lists, product development papers, department financials, strategy frameworks, and so on.
  • Top secret documents are those meant for only a small number of very carefully vetted people at the company. Top secret documents tend to include trade secrets (e.g., the recipe for Coke), intellectual capital, merger and acquisition data, and proprietary financials.

2. User-level Access: Set up a system of locking that grants only qualified individuals access to the corresponding level of confidentiality. Continue Reading….

Privacy Means Profit

Prevent Identity Theft and Secure You and Your Bottom Line

“This book builds a bridge between good personal privacy habits (protect your wallet, online banking, trash, etc.) with the skills and motivation to protect workplace data (bulletproof your laptop, server, hiring policies, etc.).”

In Privacy Means Profit, John Sileo demonstrates how to keep data theft from destroying your bottom line, both personally and professionally. In addition to sharing his gripping tale of losing $300,000 and his business to data breach, John writes about the risks posed by social media, travel theft, workplace identity theft, and how to keep it from happening to you and your business.

Secure Document Storage


SentrySafe Fire Safes

A majority of our most valuable identity documents (passports, birth and death certificates, wills, trusts, deeds, brokerage information, passwords, health records, etc.) are exposed to identity theft (and natural disasters, such as fire and floods) as they sit in unlocked filing cabinets, banking boxes in the basement, office drawers or out in the open, on our desks. I spend an entire chapter in Privacy Means Profit talking about which documents to lock up, which to destroy and which to stop at the source. To complicate matters, the problem of data theft goes beyond paper documents to digital media. More than ever we need to be concerned with the physical protection of hard drives, cell phones, thumb drives, CDs and DVDs with sensitive personal or business data on them. Read more