How to Use Secure Document Storage to Protect Important Company Data
Cybercrime costs businesses trillions every year, and expert predictions tell us this will only get worse.
Businesses that experience any type of data breach can face high costs. The most obvious is the damage the breach causes in the first place. But these costs can also come in the form of potential punitive fines. Companies can fall foul of regulatory authorities if they feel they didn’t do enough to protect data.
Consider all the data and documents your business collects, stores, and uses. It shouldn’t take long to realize how sensitive that information is. From a customer’s financial data to confidential internal documents—you’ve got lots of information cybercriminals would love to get their hands on. In fact, some four in ten internet users experienced some form of cybercrime in 2022.
Keep reading to find out why secure document storage should be one of your priorities when it comes to cybersecurity.
What is document storage?
Your organization creates and collects thousands of documents every month. These can range from invoices to tax details to photographs to… well, anything related to your business. Document storage is the process of integrating all your documents into a DMS (document management system). This management system is just as important as managing your contacts.
Document storage is more than just keeping information secure in a central location. It’s also about having a solid organizational system so you can access files and documents quickly and easily. What your DMS looks like and how you organize it will depend on the size of your business and the types of documents you’re storing.
A smaller business may still store many documents as hard copies on-site. In contrast, larger organizations will have digitized the process, storing documents in the cloud or private company servers. The significant advantage of a digital DMS is that it will be more organized and easier to secure if the proper measures are applied.
A digital DMS is more efficient and cost-effective, especially when your business handles a large number of documents daily. You can also automate and streamline elements of your document management lifecycle. This makes it easier to carry out various tasks, such as editing secured PDFs.
Secure document storage: What do you need to consider?
With cybercrime rising, secure document storage is essential for your business. It’s also crucial to maintain your reputation and avoid potentially costly data breaches. So, what should you be thinking about when it comes to protecting that vital data?
One of the mainstays of secure document storage is ensuring that all your data is encrypted. Encrypting all your sensitive information adds a layer of security that can help protect it from cybercriminals. You should add encryption no matter how you are using that data, and it should include the following:
- Stored data. Whether stored in the cloud or on company servers, all your stored data should be well encrypted.
- Used data. Any of your data that is being processed and used by projects or applications such as Bedrock by Roots or other systems should also be encrypted.
- Data in transit. Whether it’s within your organization or being sent to and from end users via software or applications, data is constantly moving. Information in transit is often when it’s at its most vulnerable, so end-to-end encryption is a must.
2. Password protection
According to a recent survey, 30% of respondents had experienced some type of vulnerability due to weak passwords. Consider sending your staff regular reminders about the importance of password security. You could even recommend a good password generator so that passwords are complicated and random.
3. Cloud backups
The cloud offers businesses many new options, from hosted Magento to secure storage of files and documents.
When it comes to secure document storage, backups are more of a cure than a preventative measure. However, as data breaches can be catastrophic and lead to costly downtime, backing your documents up to the cloud can help disaster recovery.
Regular backups to a scalable cloud storage service can prevent interruption to your business.
4. Cybersecurity protocols
Cybersecurity can often seem like a game of cat and mouse. Criminals expose vulnerabilities, cybersecurity experts plug those holes, then the criminals find new vulnerabilities, and so on.
So cybersecurity and data protection protocols play a significant role when it comes to secure document storage. Some of the protocols you should think about implementing include:
- 2FA support. 2FA (two-factor authentication) requires people to provide two forms of identification to access sensitive documents—for example, a password followed by a verification code sent by email.
- AES 256 end-to-end encryption. AES-256 encryption is a form of encryption that uses a 256-bit key to encrypt and decrypt data and can help prevent theft of your data.
- Live document alerts. Live document alerts can alert admins when sensitive documents are accessed or modified.
- DRM (Digital rights management protection). DRM can help prevent the illicit copying or editing of some of your documents.
- Full audit logs. Audit logs are helpful as they can track who accessed documents and when and can help identify any cybercrime activity.
Regulations and laws
Something else you need to consider is the external punitive costs that can result from a breach. The laws and regulations governing every aspect of how you handle data can depend on several factors, including your business type, location, and the regions and countries in which you do business.
Some of the most common laws and regulations when it comes to secure documents storage include:
- HIPAA. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996) is a US federal law covering the healthcare sector. It protects patient information from being shared or disclosed without consent.
- GDPR. If you do business in or collect data from the EU area, then the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) applies. Failure to comply with GDPR can result in massive fines. For example, Meta faced cumulative fines of hundreds of millions of euros in 2022.
- CCPA. The CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018) gives anyone who is a resident of California the right to control their personal information and requires businesses to fully disclose any data they collect on those residents.
- Financial Modernization Act (1999). Also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, this covers any business offering financial services, from banks to insurance companies. It regulates all aspects of customer data, from collection and disclosure to how these businesses protect that information.
Good practices when it comes to secure document storage
You should look at implementing several best practices to ensure your secure document storage is as watertight as possible.
- Choose the DMS that suits your needs. The type, size, and confidentiality of the documents you use and store can vary significantly between organizations. Choose a DMS that best suits your needs and is proven to work efficiently.
- Limit access. Not every employee needs access to every document, particularly when the information in that document is highly sensitive. Look at limiting access to those who need it.
- Organize your documents. Good organization of your documents doesn’t just make them easy to find and access. It also means you can categorize them according to how sensitive the information contained in them is.
- Digitize everything. If you’re still storing documents as hard copies, look at digitizing them and moving storage to more secure cloud or company servers.
- Outline clear roles. Every employee with access to your DMS should have a clearly defined role that outlines their responsibilities and access rights.
- Implement SSL protocols. SSL protocols can help defend your system and your information against cybercrime attacks. If you’re handling confidential data, you should implement these protocols for all users.
- Have a clean desk policy. This can help guard against complacency by your employees. It ensures they do not leave files on their desk (or take them home without explicit permission). It can also extend to their computer use which they should fully shut down when they are away from their desk.
Data and customer information fuel your business. They allow you to make informed business decisions, aid in forecasting future demand, and help you engage with your customer base. For those reasons alone, you should place a high value on all the data you collect and take steps to protect it as much as possible.
Secure document storage should be something you prioritize. Data breaches can be costly in terms of disruption to your business and the imposition of punitive fines by any authorities regulating your sector. Taking proper steps can avoid that damage and help maintain customer trust.