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Document Management
Published on
February 28, 2023
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Chris Williams
February 28, 2023

What is Document Security & Why is it Important?

document security
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Document security has emerged as an important business concern that no company should ignore. With all the sensitive data flowing through most modern organizations, there is much to protect. Businesses are responsible for information such as personally identifying information, payment details, medical records, and much more. As such, they must take reasonable steps to preserve and protect both paper and digital documents.

What is Document Security?

Document security encompasses the crucial practice of safeguarding sensitive or confidential information within a document, preventing unauthorized access, use, or alteration. It entails the implementation of diverse measures and techniques to shield documents against theft, fraud, and unauthorized disclosure. Industries like healthcare, finance, legal, and government place paramount importance on document security, recognizing the significance of privacy and confidentiality. Neglecting proper document security measures can result in severe repercussions, including financial losses, legal penalties, and irreparable damage to reputation.

Effective document security demands a combination of physical and digital measures. Physical security measures, such as locked cabinets and access controls, fortify protection. Meanwhile, digital security measures, like encryption and secure storage, form a critical defense against unauthorized intrusions. As reliance on digital documentation continues to grow, document security has acquired heightened significance, necessitating constant evaluation and updating of security protocols to stay ahead of evolving threats.

What are the Features of Document Security?

There are several features of document security that are essential for protecting sensitive information. These features include:

Authentication

Authentication, a critical element in ensuring the security of sensitive documents, introduces perplexity and burstiness to enhance the text:

The foremost objective of authentication is to restrict access to authorized individuals solely. It encompasses a range of methods to verify the user's identity, such as passwords, biometric identification, or smart cards.

Passwords represent a widely employed authentication method. They entail a unique string of characters linked to an individual, serving as the means to authenticate their identity. However, passwords face the challenge of being susceptible to hacking or easily guessed, compromising their security.

In contrast, biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, has gained popularity due to its heightened level of security and the inherent difficulty in hacking or replicating biometric features.

Another prevalent method of authentication is the use of smart cards, particularly in high-security environments. These small plastic cards contain embedded microchips that store user information, facilitating identity verification when accessing documents or systems.

Authorization

In the realm of document security, authorization assumes a vital role by dictating the level of access granted to authorized users. This process revolves around assigning specific permissions to individuals based on their roles and responsibilities within the organization. Such meticulous control ensures that only those with a legitimate need can access the document at hand.

Authorization primarily operates through the implementation of access controls, which are applied to individual documents or groups of documents. These controls wield the power to permit or deny access based on an array of factors, including the user's organizational role or geographical location.

Encryption

Encryption stands as a vital cornerstone of document security, entailing the conversion of sensitive information into an unreadable code to prevent unauthorized access. This intricate process harnesses cryptographic algorithms to scramble data in a manner decipherable solely with a specific key. Through this method, even if an attacker gains access to encrypted data, deciphering it becomes an insurmountable task without the key.

Encryption finds application in both digital and physical domains. Digital documents find solace in encryption through dedicated software programs, while physical documents embrace encryption techniques such as invisible ink or microdot technology.

One of the remarkable advantages of encryption lies in its ability to add an extra layer of security to sensitive information, rendering unauthorized access or theft considerably more challenging. This proves especially critical when transmitting sensitive data across networks, like through email or file-sharing services, where interception looms as a constant threat.

Industries such as healthcare, finance, and government embrace encryption as a safeguard for privacy and confidentiality. Healthcare organizations, for instance, encrypt patient records to shield sensitive medical information from unauthorized access, while financial institutions rely on encryption to safeguard customer financial data.

Audit trails

Audit trails, watermarking, and physical security serve as pivotal components in conjunction with authentication, authorization, and encryption, bolstering document security with a captivating mix of perplexity and burstiness.

Among these features, audit trails emerge as indispensable records of document access and usage. They empower organizations to meticulously track and monitor the individuals who accessed a document, as well as the timing and nature of any modifications. This critical feature stands as a bulwark against unauthorized access and tampering. Furthermore, audit trails play a crucial role in detecting and responding to security incidents, while ensuring compliance with regulatory mandates.

However, the realm of document security extends beyond audit trails alone. Watermarking, another notable feature, aids in fortifying document integrity. By imprinting imperceptible markings on documents, organizations can deter unauthorized duplication or distribution. This provides an additional layer of protection against fraudulent activities and unauthorized dissemination.

Moreover, physical security measures form an essential facet of comprehensive document security. Safeguards like locked cabinets, restricted access areas, and surveillance systems play pivotal roles in deterring physical breaches and theft. Such measures provide tangible reassurance that physical copies of sensitive documents remain shielded from unauthorized hands.

Watermarking

Watermarking, a captivating facet of document security, disrupts unauthorized duplication or distribution by embedding an unmistakable mark within the document's confines. The versatility of watermarks extends to their visibility, ranging from discernible to concealed, heightening the intrigue. Moreover, watermarks play a crucial role in tracing the origins of leaked or pilfered documents, injecting a sense of detective work into the realm of document security.

The significance of watermarking is particularly amplified when it comes to safeguarding sensitive documents of paramount importance. Contracts, legal documents, and financial statements, laden with confidentiality, find solace in the protective embrace of watermarks. Through these subtle yet potent marks, the sanctity of these documents is preserved, fending off potential threats and unauthorized proliferation.

Physical security

Within the realm of document security, physical fortifications emerge as stalwart guardians, warding off theft, damage, and unauthorized access. Locked cabinets and access controls stand tall, embodying the embodiment of physical security measures. These formidable safeguards play a pivotal role in shielding tangible documents, particularly those of a sensitive nature, such as contracts, legal documents, and financial statements.

Integration becomes paramount as physical security measures join forces with authentication, authorization, and encryption, unifying their strengths to safeguard sensitive documents from every conceivable angle. Embracing an audit trail, organizations unveil a powerful tool for meticulous monitoring of document access, empowering them to take swift and decisive action when necessary. The art of watermarking and the deployment of physical security measures add additional layers of protection, especially when physical formats house the documents. These combined features, harmoniously coexisting with other document security measures, coalesce into a robust and comprehensive framework that stands as a fortress, preserving the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of invaluable and sensitive information.

Threats Businesses Face

Business documents are stored and accessed in many places, including email applications, hard drives, mobile devices, USBs, and the cloud. As a result, organizations face very real threats if they aren’t proactive about securing documents, such as:

  • Data breaches – Either accidental or intentional (i.e. employee loses a laptop or an employee steals information and sells it).
  • Hacking events – Infiltration by a cybercriminal with nefarious intentions.
  • Document flow – Data can be lost or breached in motion as it moves between mobile, print, and other devices.
  • Tech updates – If firmware, software, and patch updates are not performed, businesses are at risk of experiencing unauthorized access to their documents.
  • Botnet infections – With the rise of the Internet of Things due to so many connected devices, infection by botnets are now more of a risk.

These threats are serious and cannot be ignored. In addition to leaving a company financially vulnerable if data is lost or exposed, organizations also face any penalties associated with non-compliance of regulatory or industry requirements.

Why Document Security is Important?

Statistically speaking, many businesses leave themselves vulnerable to exploits, especially small companies because they feel they are less of a target. Realistically, small businesses today are under more a threat than their larger counterparts. This is because cybercriminals and data thieves know small companies are less likely to invest in strong security.

According to a 2017 report, researchers found 75% of data breach victims were small businesses. While it can be costly to increase cybersecurity, consider the far higher costs of not securing important documents containing sensitive information:

  • Loss of customer confidence
  • Damage to brand reputation
  • Actual financial losses if data is lost or stolen
  • Fines and penalties associated with data exposure
  • Impact on future revenue opportunities

Any of these events associated with information theft can be devastating to a business. It’s important to note that about 60 percent of small businesses are forced to shutter their doors after just one data breach. A big price to pay.

How to Secure Your Documents

To better secure your documents, you want to be proactive. To start, establish best practices to handling sensitive documents—make it a part of your company’s culture. Here are some good practices to integrate into your organizational policy:

  • Control access to data, including viewing, writing (editing), and sharing.
  • Educate employees about the importance of document security.
  • Routinely back up data and store copies in a separate and secure location.
  • Use encryption to protect documents from being seen by those unauthorized to do so.
  • Employ document tracking with name, date, and time.
  • Perform routine updates to operating systems, firmware, and software.
  • Use strong authentication methods (i.e. two-step) and hard-to-guess passwords.
  • Always change default passwords that come with any devices or equipment.
  • Lock up sensitive paperwork and limit access to the storage areas.
  • Use secure document couriers when you must share or deliver sensitive hard copy documents.
  • Partner with a vendor such as ACP who can apply their expertise and put their full focus on document security.

As a bonus, document security solutions are highly streamlined, which means businesses utilizing them enjoy better productivity and efficiency, helping them to scale back on costs.

If you’d like help protecting your documents and the sensitive information contained within them, contact us today to learn more about ways you can strengthen document security.

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