11 Best Practices for Document Management Security
For companies working with digital documentation, document security is a top priority. Many businesses require regular documentation to ensure excellent delivery—but sharing, transferring, and editing documents can expose organizations to new security risks.
As a managed services provider (MSP), organizations may trust you to handle their sensitive documents on a regular basis. Your job is to manage these documents without putting your clients in danger of costly data breaches. In addition to immediate financial losses, data breaches can generate compliance issues, damage brand reputation, and negatively impact relationships with customers. Whether you use a cloud-based or a hybrid system, it’s important to implement best practices for document security.
In this article, we take you through key strategies for document security, best practices for sharing documents, and how a document management system may be an ideal option if you are concerned about document safety.
How can I make cloud document management more secure?
Since many organizations create, review, and share documents on a regular basis, threats to organizational security are likely to come from ordinary employee practices. To improve document security, organizations can begin by limiting areas of risk in daily operations.
Here are a few best practices for cloud document management, this is not an exhaustive list:
1/ Monitor access permissions
Since multiple employees view, share, and alter documents throughout the day, it’s important to have strict policies and procedures in place regulating user access to sensitive information. Ensure that you monitor who has access to what, and that you have up-to-date mechanisms in place for authenticating each individual user.
2/ Back up documents regularly
One of the advantages of cloud-based storage systems is they enable companies to safeguard valuable information in case of system crashes, data breaches, and natural disasters. But many businesses make the mistake of assuming their cloud provider automatically backs up all company data. This is not always the case. Choose a third-party provider that regularly backs up data, but also conducts regular checks to help ensure the documents you need are backed up. This way, if problems with storage space or policy updates prevent you from backing up what you need, you can discover these gaps before it’s too late.
3/ Regulate mobile networks
Regardless of the size of your company, regulating access from mobile devices is crucial. For convenience, your employees may choose to access sensitive information from a tablet or a mobile phone without realizing that mobile networks have vulnerabilities that are easier for hackers to exploit. Treat your mobile network with the same extensive security measures as any other network. Make sure you implement authentication protocols such as device registration and data encryption. If necessary, take the extra precaution of limiting which documents users are permitted to access on mobile devices.
4/ Use encrypted storage
You should be able to expect robust encryption capabilities from your cloud provider. If you’re using a hybrid system, make sure you have the option of encrypting data when it’s stored on hardware. Ensure that you’re using end-to-end encryption when you send files to customers.
5/ Manage remote work conditions
Today, employees are increasingly embracing the option of working remotely. Remote work offers convenience and flexibility, but it can also expose your organization to attacks if you’re unprepared. Working remotely increases the chance that employees might attempt to access sensitive documents from unsecured wireless networks or mobile networks. To help ensure your organizational data remains safe, set rules for accessing documents from external networks, encrypt any data you transfer, and educate your employees on what to do if they suspect their accounts have been compromised.
6/ Convert paper to digital
Despite a growing number of companies moving from physical documentation to digital, many businesses continue to rely on legacy systems involving manila folders in filing cabinets. Although physical media may seem secure against hacking, there are many risks that come with leaving sensitive papers in a file. Risks include sensitive documents left on printing trays, being improperly circulated around an office, or simply lost or misplaced. By converting sensitive documents to digital files, you add a level of control and increase overall visibility into who is accessing what.
7/ Employ version control
When a document must be circulated between several users, it can be difficult to keep track of who made which edits, and when. Sharing multiple versions of sensitive documents can lead to confusion and can increase the risk of documents being tampered with. Instead of circulating documents via email or private messages, employ version control with a document management system and easily view who accessed a document and who made changes. This will also allow you to revert to a previous version if a user accidentally deletes critical information or makes unwanted changes.
8/ Standardize client documentation
As organizations scale, they’ll need to complete a multitude of requests and quickly onboard new members. As an MSP, this is multiplied tenfold as you keep track of an increasing number of requests across growing client businesses. By keeping clear templates for how to document every issue, you’ll be able to easily keep track of process changes as organizations grow. This makes it possible for new technicians to jump right in and help ensure a seamless troubleshooting process for your customers.
9/ Reduce email use
Most businesses still rely heavily on email for internal and external communication. This is nearly unavoidable to conduct business today—but using email for file transfer can pose a significant security risk, especially when you are dealing with sensitive documents. Reliance on document transfer via email can expose your organization to hacks and sophisticated phishing attacks. As an alternative, consider using a document management system that enables internal and external users to share documents directly with the relevant recipients.
10/ Conduct regular security audits
Your documents contain sensitive information pertaining to your customers, employees, and your business, and it’s essential you take every measure to ensure their security. Companies often make the mistake of simply setting up security protocols and forgetting about them.
Not only are security systems constantly evolving, so are the types of attacks that threaten your company. To keep pace with changing security threats, conduct regular audits of the procedures and protocols you have in place. If they’re no longer serving your needs, replace them with new processes and document all changes.
11/ Implement a document management system
A document management system (DMS) refers to the use of a computer system or software solution to provide safe digital document access. DMS solutions make it possible to store, manage, and track documents digitally. This enables employees in an organization to collate, share, and alter documents with ease.
Document management systems make it easy to implement security best practices by providing a centralized storage location, access control for documents, password management, workflow mapping, and other critical capabilities. They can either operate independently, or as a component within larger enterprise content management solutions. Additionally, a DMS can offer significant advantages in the following areas:
As your organization grows, so do your tools and devices. Managing access permissions and password credentials for different users across multiple platforms can be complex. A DMS can enable managers to set up different tiers of authorized access in order to safeguard your sensitive information. A DMS can also help manage passwords, making it easy to retrieve them when requested or replace them when a user leaves the organization. By investing in a DMS, you can reduce the risk of data breaches and cut down on password retrieval and management work for your IT and security teams.
- Collaboration and efficiency
Be it internally or externally, providing excellent client service requires collaboration. But tracking documentation can be hard when there is a constant influx of new data. A DMS makes it possible to track documents through their lifecycle and organize the process through template generation authoring, reviewing, and editing. This prevents documents from becoming lost and helps protect against incomplete and inaccurate documentation. It also has the added advantage of streamlining documentation so new members can be easily onboarded and introduced to workflows.
In addition to keeping track of client work, a DMS helps you keep track of the financial and personnel information you may need for compliance purposes. Alongside standard compliance documentation, keeping track of document sharing practices can help you demonstrate compliance.
For organizations looking to invest in a DMS, SolarWinds® Passportal + Documentation Manager presents an ideal option. Passportal streamlines document management by combining security and IT documentation built-in to one platform. Passportal links passwords, documents, SSL certificates, vendors, and more, giving you visibility into your document-sharing practices, document lifecycles, and client delivery.
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