Why Your Business Needed Document Security Yesterday

June 6, 2015

8:00 am

Every year, companies lose between $2 billion and $400 billion from economic espionage. You may wonder why this is such a vast range, and the answer will probably alarm you: nearly 70 percent of IT and security professionals don’t know which documents, files, and data leave their companies, so it’s hard to gauge the damage of a breach.

That’s a pretty scary reality, especially considering that every company needs to share documents with sensitive information. It doesn’t help that very few companies are aware that data breaches happen in all industries. In 2013 alone, there were more than 1,367 confirmed data breaches.

Failure to protect employee, customer, or company data during transfers not only jeopardizes your company’s financial security, but it also puts you at legal risk. You may have strong general online security to keep you safe from hacking, intrusion, and fraud, but document security is a whole other ballgame.

Many viewers enable IT staffers or developers to control different users’ document access levels. Beyond a viewer, however, a document’s level of security can’t be guaranteed. It’s easy to control who can access your network with the right security, but documents are extremely vulnerable when you send them to multiple people.

And if your documents are hacked, altered, or misrepresented, your company can face dire consequences — no matter how secure your network is.

The Scary Truth Behind Document Breaches

A lack of protection for your documents can get you in more trouble than you might think. Information about specific employee health benefits goes through your HR department throughout the year. When you fail to encrypt these documents, your company can be sued for violating HIPAA. If the documents are hacked, you could open yourself up to individual employee legal action.

Clients may think they’re being safe when they send their bank account or credit card info in a PDF versus an unsecured email. But in reality, editable PDFs provide little protection against the theft of sensitive banking information. Small- and medium-sized businesses can easily lose their credibility when their customers’ financial information gets leaked.

It’s especially important to put secure data storage and document protection in place when your company has intellectual property you don’t want to share with your competitors. Any time a document is uploaded and sent — even if it’s through your own intranet — your documents don’t necessarily get the same level of security as the rest of the site. Your company’s trade secrets may not remain secrets for long if you can’t properly protect them.

Lock Down Your Documents Today

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to add extra protection to your documents. Here are three ways you can keep employee records, financial information, and intellectual property more secure:

1. Set Up a Viewer Solution

One potential security leak occurs when you give employees higher document privileges than they need. When you decide on a document viewer through your network, make sure control access settings are in place. You must limit who can edit, copy, and print a document. With the proper control access settings, employees who need to view a document can do nothing more than just that.

2. Secure Your Uploads

Mid-sized businesses that spend a lot of time on the road often perform a significant number of unsecure uploads. Instead of sending files back and forth between mobile devices, you should integrate HTML5 security into your intranet for document uploads. Making this change will give your documents encryption in transit to ensure the information is secure.

3. Use a Digital Watermark

Watermarking isn’t a feature of general online security, but it’s extremely important in document security. It’s a key way to ensure the document you share can’t be altered or misrepresented. Use watermarking on proprietary information, especially patent-pending ideas and other in-progress projects.

No matter what your company does, you have employee or customer data that needs to be protected during transfers. You may have a website that’s locked down tighter than Fort Knox, but that will mean nothing if your documents are completely vulnerable. Protect your business by taking every precautionary measure when it comes to document transfer.

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Jack Berlin is the founder and president of Accusoft, a company that provides the full spectrum of document, content, and imaging solutions for business of all sizes.