Your Documents Aren’t Safe. Here Are the Best Practices for Document Security

Your Documents Aren’t Safe. Here Are the Best Practices for Document Security

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With the advent of 5G technology and Industry 4.0 putting more pressure on businesses to fast-track their digital transformations, the demand for document-management solutions has exploded. The worldwide market for document-management software is projected to reach $10. 17 billion by 2025. This revolution brings with it the responsibility of properly protecting all information. Documents can contain sensitive or private information that could pose a threat to individuals, businesses, and governments. That is why companies need to incorporate the highest levels of document-management security.

Related: Keep Your Information Moving At The Speed Of Your Business

Don’t wait to secure digital documents

With the continued release of new vulnerabilities regularly and the ease at which a digital document can be compromised — compared to a physical piece of paper — ensuring the security of those documents has become more important than ever to keep private information from being exposed.

It is common to read the news and learn about a new security breach. Impacting small and large companies, nearly 2000 data breaches occurred in the first half of 2022 alone. Many companies consider their data to be one of their most valuable assets. It must be protected.

Ransomeware, a form of malware designed to encrypt files and deny users access to them until a demand ransom is paid, is one clear threat. Phishing attacks, where hackers try to get account credentials (username and password), represent an ongoing and ever-evolving danger. Hackers will often hide for a while, then log in as the user to avoid suspicions. They then download documents that they can access, or, if skilled enough, attack network administrator privileges.

Who is trying to hack into systems in order to obtain documents? Anyone who can find value in the type of data a company possesses. Hackers don’t usually know what type of data a company has until they have access to corporate documents or enough information about the company to identify the types of information that might exist, such as financials and employee personally identifiable information (PII). It is any document they can use to make a profit.

What to look for in a document-management partner

Numerous outsourced document-management vendors exist in the marketplace today, and not all are created equal when it comes to offering the highest levels of security. Below are four necessary security features to look for from a document-management partner:

  1. End-to-end chain of custody and tracking: It’s important to know who has had access to both physical and digital documents. Chain of custody is essential throughout the document’s lifecycle. You should log any access so you can see who, when and why they opened a document. Partner should be able show audit and chain of custody logs. This helps to ensure that only those with the appropriate privileges have access to particular documents.
  2. Disaster recovery, failover, redundancy, and guaranteed access: With a reduction in paper documents, systems and processes need to be in place to ensure that your digital documents are accessible in the event of a single point of failure. If the internet goes down at your partner’s data centre, you should still have a backup and redundant way to access those documents. You should expect your partners to be able provide written reports detailing testing on an ongoing basis.
  3. Compliance with industry standards: Compliance standards, such as PCI for credit card information, HIPAA for health information and SOC 2 Type II for policies and processes, ensure complete accountability for the security and related processes around any document. To ensure compliance, partners must undergo an independent third-party assessment. This is to ensure they are following industry guidelines and performing the required tasks. All partners should be able and able to show evidence of certifications that they have met the required compliance standards for the documents you store.
  4. Utilization of a “continuous ongoing compliance” model: One of the drawbacks of compliance is that it’s an annual assessment, so sometimes companies get lax throughout the year — then get ready just at compliance time.


How to develop a security policy for your company.]Best practices companies can implement.

Related: How To Develop Security Policy For Your Company

Best practices companies can implement

In addition to wanting the best technology solutions to help facilitate the digitization of documents, companies should also make security a top priority. Whether you have a Chief Security Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Head of IT or are working with a third-party service provider, there are several best practices that companies themselves should implement to ensure they’re doing their part to secure their digital documents:

  • Make security a primary, proactive focus and not an afterthought;
  • Perform a complete audit of all access to and actions taken on each digital document;
  • Ensure proper data classification, retention, and destruction protocols are established and followed;
  • Test and document disaster-recovery and business-continuity solutions;
  • Run regular vulnerability scans of the environment and remediation of all critical vulnerabilities found;
  • Hold recurring security-awareness training with 100% required staff participation; and
  • Conduct regular chain-of-custody and security audits to ensure best practices are being followed and documented.

To obtain the highest levels of security for digital documents, collaboration on strategy should involve all stakeholders — including document-management providers, IT, security and operations.

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