Keeping sensitive documents secure from unauthorized access and theft in today’s digital world is not as easy as locking the file cabinet for physical documents. Even if you take every possible security measure to protect your digital documents, there are still potential risks of unauthorized access and use, which may result in data theft or information leakage.
There are several approaches to ensure the security of sensitive documents. Here are a couple of document security strategies and best practices:
Passwords are often the first line of defense and the most straightforward security measure you can take to protect sensitive information. While passwords are not a foolproof way to keep your documents safe from unauthorized access or data theft, they put an extra step in the requirements to open a document for anyone who wants to access a document.
Password protection can be used to allow recipients to access protected documents or to allow them to make changes to the information. Communicating and remembering the different passwords for different files might be a cumbersome step. And, depending on the channels you use to communicate your passwords, they may spread further than intended. You will not have control over the unauthorized sharing of passwords, which may result in unauthorized access to the document. Nevertheless, password protection is one of the easiest steps you can take to deter improper document access.
Best Practices for Password Protection
- To be effective, passwords must be long and complicated.
- Change your password regularly.
- Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords such as your SSN or date of birth.
- Create a password that has upper and lower case letters as well as special characters.
Encryption means the scrambling or encoding of information so that it can’t be easily understood, even if it is intercepted in transit. A secure key is used to encrypt (lock) a document and only intended recipients with access to the private key can decrypt (unlock) or view the information. It ensures document security by preventing unauthorized access to information at rest or in transit. Though encryption doesn’t guarantee end-to-end security, it adds a layer of protection that makes it difficult for unintended users to view the information.
Best Practices for Encryption
- Keep your encryption key private and safe.
- Choose the right document encryption tools.
- Regularly assess the performance of tools.
- Train your employees.
How many times after sharing a document are you able to determine who has seen it, who has forwarded it and to whom? Even when you share a document with a closed group of recipients, you will lose control over the document after sharing. Anyone could leak the password and encryption key details, and you wouldn’t know about it.
This is where document tracking can help ensure document security. Document tracking solutions help track the movement of documents and indicate whether they are spread beyond the intended group of recipients. You will have access to details like who is accessing or printing your document so that you can take swift action or revoke access if there seems to be dubious activity.
Best Practices for Document Tracking
- When using document tracking, make sure to include other security features, such as controlling editing, copying, and printing of content.
- Choose the right document tracking solution.
Digital Rights Management (DRM)
Controlling who accesses your documents is only half the battle. The other half is about controlling how the documents are accessed, for how long they can be accessed, and what happens to documents after authorized users access them. And, this is where DRM will help you.
DRM uses encryption to enforce granular permissions on your documents, such as the last date, time, device, and location of access, as well as the number of times it was viewed. With DRM, you can enforce rights regarding the viewing, editing, copying, printing, distribution, as well as dictate the expiry date of the document.
Best Practices for Document Tracking
- Choose a document DRM solution that works both online and offline.
- DRM controls must be capable of being reset.
- DRM solutions must be compatible with common computing platforms.
Document security strategies range from necessary measures such as passwords to advanced systems like DRM. Your approach will depend on your business needs, the sensitivity level of your data, the budget, and the type of access restrictions you want. However, document security should always be accompanied by staff training and awareness about security. The document security tools and policies will only make sense if your employees understand their importance.