What is Document Security?
Every business creates vast amounts of both paper and digital documents that rely on document security. Your documents face threats of all kinds, which includes physical documents being susceptible to loss and digital documents at risk of being hacked. When vital documents fall into the wrong hands, the confidential personal data of your customers could be comprised and financial details about your bank accounts and credit cards could be stolen. These and many other scenarios leave you vulnerable to lawsuits and point out the critical importance of document security. Even the smallest businesses are starting to realize how important document security is to their companies' continued success.
Document security is the security system used for all of the important documents you create, file, store, back up, deliver, and eventually dispose of when you no longer need them. While the definition is simple, the actual process of keeping your documents secure is quite complex. Due to an ever-expanding digitized world, going paperless makes document management easier in many ways, but without the right security measures, your digital documents are still at risk.
Why Is Document Security Important?
No matter what type of business you run, protecting your data is a major key to your success. When your documents are lost or stolen, the information contained can damage your business and the privacy of your customers or employees. Eliminating paper documents and turning to a digital document management system helps prevent security breaches from lost paperwork or shredding errors. However, escalating threats like identity theft, website hacking, and other breaches in internet security emphasize the importance of maintaining the security of your records. Other important reasons for document security include:
- Controlling access of your records to ensure only certain people can retrieve documents containing private information
- Protecting confidentiality and adhering to privacy regulations imposed by industry groups and the government, including HIPAA regulations in the health care field and the General Data Protection Regulation
- Ensuring proper encryption for digital documents, so stored data can only be accessed by approved personnel
Combining document security with a document management system helps your data stay secure while also helping you organize files in a central digital repository. This makes it much easier and quicker to access data when you need it while also better helping you safeguard your data.
Digitizing Increases Document Security
Companies who continue to keep their documents in physical form risk information being lost or damaged due to theft, employee error, and fire or other natural disasters. In a paper-based system, document security is generally attained by keeping documents under lock and key with access restricted to essential personnel, but it's nearly impossible to ensure adequate security for paper documents as the number of files grows. Plus, accessing the documents you need in a timely manner is often more difficult due to flaws in your filing system, sheer volume of files, or human error while cataloguing. Digital systems allow for swifter access to your documents with just a few keystrokes, making them more convenient to use while also increasing document security.
It's crucial you store your documents electronically with a document management system that uses the latest security measures to methodically protect your business' data, ensure compliance with legal requirements (like privacy protection laws), and prevent financial losses caused by fraud or identity theft. Threats abound from external sources utilizing viruses and malicious software to destroy or steal your data, so keeping your digital documents safe from hackers is a fundamental part of any good document management and security system.
Choose a service that:
- Implements firewalls and secure-access mechanisms
- Uses the latest in security software, including anti-spyware and anti-virus programs
- Regularly update their operating systems, applications, and security measures to plug any possible holes that might allow unauthorized access to your data
Best Practices for Document Management and Security
Businesses typically work best when they can efficiently store, access, and manage their documents without files being impossible to find. Digital document systems offer better security and compliance for sensitive data. Best practices for digital document management and security include:
- Selectively restrict access to certain folders by categorizing files by level with each level having different access permissions.
- Create multiple levels of access rights, including separate viewing and editing privileges that let you choose who can view certain documents, but isn't allowed to modify them.
- Set password protections and other means to further control access and ensure only selected employees can view, edit, and/or share documents.
- Keep like documents together in an organized manner, so they can all be easily accessed at one time, such as employee records or order invoices.
- Offer easy collaboration to allow numerous employees to collectively work on the same document and avoid having multiple versions circulating, including versions that may inadvertently get distributed that contain inaccurate or incomplete data.
- Maintain an audit trail that can easily be monitored and tells you who accessed which documents, when documents were accessed, what changes were made to each document and by whom, and who distributed which documents where.
- Incorporate document authentication through electronic signatures that ensure the documents you receive are from who they claim to be.
- Implement a document retention and destruction policy, so you're only keeping the documents you still need while destroying those you don't to free up space.
- Develop a data backup and storage plan to ensure vital documents aren't lost with a document storage platform that has the ability to easily retrieve missing/lost documents.
- Prepare for worst case scenarios by creating secure, redundant backups to recover from disasters swiftly. Unlike paper copies that can be destroyed by fire or flood, you can safely archive digital documents for easy retrieval from an off-site server or cloud storage.
Document security is a major issue faced by pretty much every business operating worldwide. It's nearly impossible to ensure adequate security for paper documents you attempt to keep under lock and key, and the storage requirements for all this paper can be overwhelming, especially the longer you've been in business. Electronic documents are becoming the norm, and while it does cost a bit of time and money to initially digitize your files, you'll quickly realize all the benefits your company gains through better organization and tighter document security.