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In a complex world where digitization is the norm and our personal data is extremely vulnerable, cybersecurity is of crucial importance. Studies show that incidents of fraud are on the rise, with total financial losses from identity theft cases totaling $712.4 billion as of 2020. 

Cybersecurity is key to keeping personal records secure and ensuring that your healthcare providers, financial institutions, and more do the same. To help stop hackers and reduce consumer fraud and identity theft complaints, companies of all sizes are beefing up their cybersecurity, and the technology is more advanced than ever.

But how did we get here? It may seem unbelievable, but today’s cyber security technology has roots in the 18th century, when using the printing press became more affordable, and thus more widespread. Hundreds of millions of books were printed during the 1700s, as were countless paper contracts, deeds, birth and death certificates, and more. Records management dates back even further than that, however, all the way back to the advanced ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece.

From clay tablets to parchment, cloud storage, and beyond, humanity has come a long way in terms of record keeping. And across all periods, the security of records has been a top priority. Let’s explore the evolution of record storage and how the advent of computers helped bring about a modern digital transformation in recordkeeping and document storage.

Records Storage Across History

The earliest personal documents deemed important enough to keep were those tied to land ownership as well as the recording of births and deaths. Early governments used these sorts of records to determine population size, as well as a family’s tax obligations. A group of records collected by a single entity, such as a governmental organization, are commonly known as archives.

The ancient Sumerians were the first to create an archive, recording property ownership and commercial activity on a large scale, about 4,000 years ago. Sumerian record keepers used clay stones to record information and likely stored them in secure facilities, much like the ancient Egyptians did with military records one thousand years later.

By the time that America’s founding fathers were forming a new government, free from British tyranny, paper was the record-keeping medium of choice. For its part, the Massachusetts Bay colony engaged in meticulous record-keeping practices beginning in the 1630s, according to researcher Jane Zhang. However, those records were simply stacked in bundles or stored loose in files until some 200 years later.

Over 11 years beginning in 1836, the Reverend Joseph B. Felt took on the arduous task of arranging, organizing, and binding colony records into 241 distinct volumes. To this day, many of those paper records still exist and are preserved in the Massachusetts Archives.

Keeping Your Records, and Rights, Secure

The preservation of records in archives can help secure one’s personal assets and protect against future misunderstandings or disputes. And even in the 1800s, legal disputes were a regular occurrence across the U.S., for individual citizens and business owners alike. At the time, one’s reputation was almost as important as written records in terms of settling debts, and large-scale bookkeeping had yet to take off.

Conversely, data breaches are unfortunately common in contemporary times, and businesses could be found to be legally liable if sensitive information about individual customers is compromised in any way. A civil lawsuit involving a data breach can be costly, and small business owners should enact legal protections in the event of a cyber attack. Along with purchasing comprehensive liability coverage, business owners can do their due diligence where record storage is concerned, keeping data organized and secure.

Further, cyber data should be backed up whenever possible, either in the form of paper records or saved onto some type of external device. Along with employing cybersecurity professionals to keep data secure, business owners should also consider investing in anti-theft software, and encrypting sensitive files. For those companies in charge of extremely sensitive data, such as customer credit card numbers and/or medical records, investing in advanced cybersecurity is a smart business move.

The Importance of Cybersecurity Today

Today, our civilization has progressed further than early records management professionals could even imagine. An infinite amount of sensitive data is sent along digital channels every day, and keeping that information secure allows modern life to continue moving forward. Cybersecurity professionals are thus in high demand in nearly every industry, to help prevent data breaches and curb the nefarious activities of hackers and cybercriminals.

Although data breaches looked vastly different in the 18th century, archives and similar facilities kept important documents secure from the elements and natural disasters, as well as from potential fraud and theft. Secure document facilities also serve to protect land and business owners from civil lawsuits and legal disputes. As technology has advanced, the records storage industry has had to keep up with an influx in data breaches and identity theft cases, propelling individuals and business owners alike into a brighter, better-protected future.

About the Author:
Frankie Wallace contributes to a wide variety of blogs and writes about many different topics, including politics and the environment. Wallace currently resides in Boise, Idaho, and is a recent graduate of the University of Montana.