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Tales from San Tan Valley

As I scour the interwebs in an endless quest for wisdom, understanding, and cat videos, I occasionally bump into serendipity and learn things I wasn’t expecting. This morning that phenomenon resulted in my discovery (via Google Maps) of the community of San Tan Valley, Arizona.

San Tan Valley is a charming (I imagine) place, nestled roughly fifteen miles southeast of the Phoenix metroplex. It boasts at least three golf courses and, I gather, the office of the Pinal County Clerk where, SanTanValley.com reports, a county attorney happened to see the contents of a sealed court document.

Okay, I’ll be square with you. I didn’t just stumble on San Tan Valley. I was looking for stories related to inadequate document security and the trail led me there. And while we do not revel in the misfortune of others, this is the point in my blog where I attempt to use that misfortune as a teaching moment.

In this case, we’ll take the clerk’s office at its word that it is “is committed to providing quality customer service, ensuring the integrity and access to court records” and that this instance didn’t so much reveal any gaps in existing security processes that put the contents of that file in jeopardy, but merely revealed that, in the course of doing business, there are occasions when additional care and attention in handling such documents is needed.

Pinal County Chief Deputy Steve Vilhauer said as much when he commented on the incident that, “Security issues require continuous monitoring and vigilance. We’ve dedicated the time and resources needed to firmly manage the areas that we control.”

I can’t speak to the specific circumstances of this incident, but I can say that valuable information and documents are most at risk during routine use. We have to make information available to others or it has no value. And that’s when the human factor comes into play.

You worked hard on a new business proposal, pulling together research and negotiating pricing with internal resources and third parties. You drew up a schematic that included proprietary technical specifications. You took great care to keep the details a secret in order to protect the integrity of you bid. And when you were done, you emailed the document to the prospective client.

At that moment you immediately lost control of the document and its contents. That’s just the way it is.

Of course, today you have the option of protecting that document with HoGo, a simple, cost-effective step that keeps the information you’ve shared between you and the recipient. But you still have to be vigilant. There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.

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