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Best Practices for Securing Your Electronic Documents

 
 

October is cyber security awareness month and conversations surrounding data protection have never been more important or timely. It can be easy for organizations to get mired in the day-to-day routine and forget just how important it is to protect the massive amounts of documents generated every single day.

It’s important to frequently ask yourself and your organization: Are we doing everything we can to secure our vital documents and prevent data breaches?

 

Why is Data-Security important?

Amidst the global pandemic, cyber-crime has been on the rise. 2020 had been a record-breaking year for successful cyber-attacks, and 2021 has already outstripped 2020 and looks to continue growing. By the end of 2021, cybercrime is expected to cost the world $6 trillion. (Source: cybersecurityventures)

Although undeniably frustrating, the increase in high-profile hacks and data breaches over the last year have begun prompting business leaders to examine the potential ramifications of a breach and accept the reality of the threat that cybercrime poses.

The startling truth is that 70% of companies that experience major data loss go out of business within a year. (Source: FEMA) It is absolutely crucial that organizations do their research and determine the best approach for mitigating the risk of a cyberattack, malicious software, and theft of sensitive information.

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The Pillars of Document Protection

As DocuPhase is a full business process automation solution, we have a vested interest in helping inform organizations of the dangers of cyberattacks and the steps needed to protect their vital documents and data. Although there is so much that goes into a cyber security plan, we believe there are a few key pillars that provide the foundation for any plan.

Invest in IT

The sad truth is, the skyrocketing rate of cybercrime might not look the same if business leaders had begun investing in IT professionals earlier in our new digital age. 61% of cybersecurity experts say that their team is understaffed. (Source: ISACA)

Make sure your IT team has the manpower and resources to do their job correctly and stay at the forefront of cybersecurity procedures. The investment will be well worth it in comparison to the devastating costs of a major data breach.

Control Access

Everyone knows that private company files need to be protected by logins and passwords and the like, but the average company grants an enormous amount of access to new and lower-level employees. Even if every employee is entirely trustworthy, even an unintentional lapse in security protocol can result in handing over the keys to the company to bad actors.

It is essential to create layered security that gives users ONLY the access they need to reach the resources required for their duties while preventing them from accessing data that they do not need.

Look for customizable features that can control access without disrupting the day-to-day operations of your organizations.

Stay Educated

Although the primary cause of a data breach is sabotage or theft from external forces, the second major cause of a data breach in 2020 was human error. (Source: packetlabs) The simple truth is that while you need people to keep your business running, they are also one of your biggest vulnerabilities.

While your IT team might be doing everything possible to protect your data from security threats and, an honest mistake from an ignorant employee can render all of it useless. Phishing and other social engineering scams are on the uptick with 36% of data breaches in 2021 (Verizon) involving this method of getting unaware victims to click on malicious links or open unsafe attachments.

Keep your teams educated on the latest cyber threats and make sure your processes and procedures don’t put them in a compromising position.

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7 Tips for Protecting Your Document Management System

As important as cybercrime prevention is, security doesn’t need to come at the expense of productivity. Document Management is a core feature of DocuPhase, so we have direct experience in helping organizations set up secure and efficient systems for storing, searching, and retrieving documents.

Regardless of your provider or solution, here are a few best practice tips that your organization should be employing in relation to its document management system

 

1.   Go Digital

It may seem odd but one of the best things to help your document security is to digitize and automate your manual, paper-based processes. Without automated and digitized systems, there is no way to control where your information is going or keep track of who is looking at your documents. Plus, with remote or hybrid work, taking papers to and from the office, or sending files via unsecured email attachments all open up security vulnerabilities.

 

2.   Install SSL Protocols

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital authentication that confirms server identity and enables an encrypted connection. It’s an added element of security for your document management system that will prohibit information between the source and user from being read or modified as a file is being accessed, uploaded, or modified.

 

3. Set up custom permissions

Whether you are on the market for a Document Management system or already have one set up, one of the primary security features you will want to look to implement is custom permissions. Too many employees are able to gain access to items that they do not need to do their job.

With custom permissions in place, each employee has a tiered security level that can grant them access to some document types but not others. In this way, important information is compartmentalized except to only the most trusted levels of the organization.

 

4.   Employ Redactions

Similar to document permissions, redactions are another feature that document management software like DocuPhase often employs. There are plenty of situations in which important personal or professional information is provided on a form alongside other information that is needed to be accessed.

Redaction bridges the gap, allowing forms to be partially redacted using the same permission tiers so that an employee can access certain parts of the document without also having access to non-relevant information.

 

5.   Utilize Revision Tracking

Revision tracking is an essential tool to a document management cyber security approach. In effect, it allows a system administrator to monitor who is accessing and editing what files as well as identify what changes if any were made to information within any of the integrated systems.

Not only is this good for internal document security but it is also important for auditors as they will be able to have a digital paper trail, showing them how and where electronic documents are moving through your organization.

 

6.   Sync Files with Integration

Data integration is a cornerstone of modern business technology. When an organization utilizes multiple technology systems, being able to push and pull files between them and update them simultaneously across the board is almost mandatory. Inaccurate and incomplete data can wreak havoc on operations but a lack of version control can also result in additional opportunities for employees to inadvertently mishandle sensitive data that can evolve into a security gap.

 

7.   Keep Data Tidy

At the end of the day, much of cyber-security revolves around controlling and monitoring the flow of information but it’s important to remember that these functions are reliant upon a thoughtful and organized approach. Security permissions mean little if you don’t know what is worth restricting and redactions are meaningless if they aren’t consistent. The best way to know when something is off is by keeping things orderly. Consider these steps when building out a document security plan:

  • Take time to properly chart out your filing structure for documents so that everything stays organized and you avoid losing data and duplicate filing. 
  • Make sure that you have a permission tagging system that is intuitive and consistent across your organization.
  • If you are using a cloud-hosted platform, be sure to regularly conduct data back-ups.
  • Don’t keep more data than you need for operations, especially if it has personal information or financial records involved.
  • Identify your plan ahead of time for safely disposing of important files and data when it is no longer needed. 

The Next Step...

There is so much that an organization can achieve with a secure document management system as long as they tailor it to fit their needs. Download our free tipsheet 9 Steps to Optimizing Your Document Management System and see some of the ways solutions like DocuPhase can elevate how you use your data.

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DocuPhase

A leader in Enterprise Automation software, DocuPhase delivers document management, workflow automation, and capture tools designed to help your enterprise stay organized and meet evolving technology and business needs.

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