By: Zak Goldberg
Every business deals with sensitive information and documents – from personal data relating to clients to important company plans. It is therefore of upmost importance that all such secure documents are handled and managed in the safest ways possible to avoid any leaks or losses. There are many ways to ensure that your secure documents remain that way, whether you are dealing with electronic or hard copies.
Share Files Securely
Sharing files both internally and externally is an important aspect of most businesses. When these files contain sensitive material, it is vital that they are shared in a secure method. Simply placing a password on the files is not enough, as you will still need to convey what the password is to the recipient in a secure manner.
Here are a few ways to share files securely:
- Dropbox: For sharing large files Dropbox is useful and a secure option, as only people who are sent a link to the file will be able to access it. With a Dropbox Pro account files and folders can be password protected, with a link expiry time set too.
- Off the Record (OTR): This is a messaging feature that can be added to other messaging programs, whereby messages are encrypted before leaving your machine, so you can safely send files.
- Resilio Sync: Files are synchronised using the BitTorrent protocol, so that rather than sharing files via a cloud-based service they can be synced directly between devices.
Use the Cloud Safely
The cloud has quickly become one of the most common ways people and businesses store and send files, images, documents and more. While it provides a convenient way to do so, there are still some security issues and struggles to put in place any laws or regulation over use of the service. There are still ways to safely manage documents on the cloud though.
Firstly, it is important to read the user agreement, as this should provide all the information and reassurance that it has efficient security controls in place. Encrypting your files is essential and at the moment the best way to protect any data uploaded. The easiest way to do so is to create zip files and encrypt with a password. Even better is if you use an encrypted cloud service in the first place.
Ensure Document Deliveries are Protected
If you need to send hard copies of certain files or simply trust this method more than online, then finding and using secure document couriers is the best option. Tracked services mean you can keep tabs on your documents when they are in transit for that extra confidence. It is important to check any terms and conditions, knowing who is liable should there be an issue.
Not only should this mean your deliveries will be safe in transit, it can reassure clients receiving such files or whoever the other party is that they are being sent in the most secure manner. This can be a much more efficient and cost-effective method as opposed to hand delivering files yourself.
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Secure Paper Document Storage
For all physical documents, it is no use simply putting them all in a filing cabinet and forgetting about them. Especially for highly sensitive material, a few secure steps need to be taken to ensure they are at as little risk as possible of theft. Start by making sure that the area itself where they are all kept is locked at night, as well as any individual cabinets they are in.
Employees should be trained in locking away all such sensitive documents and checking they are safe. For some companies it can also be useful to invest in secure offsite storage for the most important physical data, where it will be professionally managed and under high quality protection. You will still have access to all paper documentation when required.
Create a Safe Document Management System
All sorts of different documents will be produced, stored and managed within all businesses, from hard copies of invoices to digital ones including email and more. For each type that is used throughout your company, a clear and safe plan needs to be created and employed so that all documents in circulation are properly protected.
One of the biggest wastes of time and money when it comes to document storage is people spending a lot of time looking for documents. Having a streamlined system in place whereby those who need to know exactly where important files are eliminates this. Therefore, with both physical and digital documents you need to come up with an agreed organisational method, such as storing in alphabetical order, date or another factor.
Always Back Up
Where possible, always back up any important document. Physical documents should be scanned and backed up both on paper and on a hard drive, while anything stored on a computer should be backed up on a password-protected hard drive and/or through remote backup services. If the worst does happen and any of your secure documents are stolen, corrupted or deleted, at least you will have a spare copy to save your blushes.
All of these methods should help that any sensitive and secure documents you need delivering either online or as a physical copy will be completed safely.
By Zak Goldberg
About the author
Zak Goldberg is a Law & Business Graduate from the University of Leeds who has chosen to follow his aspirations of becoming a full-time published writer, offering his expertise on all areas of law, fintech and business economics.