What is Document Security: The Complete Guide (Including Tips)

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Written By Haissam Abdul Malak

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Documents often contain sensitive information that, if leaked, could be damaging to individuals, businesses, or governments. That is why it is important for organizations to properly manage document security.


Document security is the protection of information contained in documents from unauthorized access or theft. It can also refer to measures taken to prevent the alteration or counterfeiting of documents.

Physical and digital documents should be treated with caution. To limit or even prevent data breaches, businesses should ensure that only the appropriate personnel have access to permitted information.

In 2020, 60% of data breaches were from insiders. Since 2018, the frequency of these sorts of occurrences has increased by 47 percent. While business owners may be concerned about external threats, they need also look within to reduce possible hazards.

Companies that still rely on paper documents are jeopardizing their most valuable asset. Paper documents are readily misplaced, lost, or destroyed for a variety of reasons. Not to mention the potential for it to end up in the wrong hands.

Digital papers, on the other hand, necessitate security procedures that are distinct from those required for physical documents. It will be easier to handle them if you use software like a document management system or enterprise content management software.

In this post, we’ll discuss what document security is, why it’s crucial for businesses, and how to put proper protocols in place.

Document Security
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

What is Document Security?

Documents are the most valuable assets in your organization, and they must be handled with care. Like any other important asset (money, homes, vehicles, etc.), you need to ensure that it is securely protected in order to retain its worth and maximize its use.

Document security is important for businesses of all sizes to protect sensitive data. To reduce or avoid any data breach or misusage, organizations must ensure that only authorized persons have access to the records. It is generally ensured by restricting access to the documents.

Document security is a challenge that businesses all around the world are dealing with. Every year, the number of documents created by enterprises increases dramatically. As a result, having a clear, well-defined document security plan makes managing permission and access much easier.

Your capacity to safeguard and manage these assets is critical to your long-term success. Effectively safeguarding your documents protects them against unauthorized access and the hazards that come with it.

It is nearly hard to provide effective document security in a paper-based system since putting all papers under lock and key might have an impact on company performance.

When employees print papers at a nearby copier, there is a good likelihood that other colleagues may view them. There are several methods to assist lessen this habit, but it is difficult to regulate.

In terms of digital documents, there is a mix of procedures, methods, and technology that allow these documents to be safely shared and seen by other stakeholders, whether inside or beyond your company’s boundaries.

What are the types of document security?

Document security is simply one component of total security efforts; fortunately, there are ways and technology available to assist you in managing and safeguarding information.

Protecting various forms of sensitive information, such as proprietary, financial, customer lists, sales-strategy reports, and so on, should be your top concern, otherwise, your complete business operations and benefits will be jeopardized.

There are several types of document security that will ensure documents are extremely secure and can only be viewed by authorized access including document encryption, digital right management, watermarking, and well-defined access control. Organizations will have to incorporate most of these measures for ultimate protection.

Here are the types of document security for 2022:

1- Documents or Files Encryption

When your workers begin uploading files to a digital solution, they may be in the cloud or on-premises. It is critical that these documents be encrypted so that no one can view them even if they have access to the folder.

People will be unable to see the content if it falls into the wrong hands in this situation.

The majority of systems allow physical-digital files to be encrypted and only visible within their solutions. As a result, only authorized employees to have access or readability.

Security documents contain certain characteristics designed to make them more difficult to counterfeit, alter, change, or otherwise tamper with.

2- Digital Rights Management (DRM)

The use of technologies and methods to restrict the use of copyrighted digital assets is known as digital rights management. DRM tools are intended to safeguard the copyright holder’s rights and prohibit illegal modification or distribution.

Implementing DRM will make your documents more secure because the document must be authorized before being opened. This instance will ensure that only those with the appropriate access rights may see the content.

3- Watermarking

A watermark may be thought of as a stamp in the form of text or an image that has been added statically or dynamically to the original document.

Watermarking should be used to encourage safe user behavior in document security.

If used correctly, it will prevent employees from leaking documents while also assisting in identifying the source of the leak by dynamically inserting the employee’s name into the original documents.

In the construction sector, it is critical to apply a watermark on drawings to identify the viewer’s identity, date, and time of document access, as well as to alert them that this document version is not the most recent.

4- Well Defined Access Control

Most document management systems allow administrators to regulate access to digital documents at both the folder and document levels.

First, divide your users into groups and provide authorization to a specific group at the folder or document level.

In this manner, only users in this specific group will be able to view, alter, download, update metadata, and so on this document or set of documents of the same type.

According to my experience, as the number of users grows, it becomes more difficult to remember the access rights for each group, which is why it is advisable to construct a matrix that indicates each group the access permissions on available folders.

Always remember to grant access to groups, not individuals.

Document Security Matrix

5- Document Audit Trail

The majority of available document management systems record a comprehensive history of all activities done on the document to keep track of who visited which document and when, as well as what modifications were made during each access.

This is incredibly useful when you need to know who read the document, with whom it was shared, and what actions were taken.

Feel free to check this in-depth article: Master Your DOCUMENT VERSION CONTROL in 5 Minutes (theecmconsultant.com)

6- Metadata Based Document Security

Some market-available solutions allow you to establish granular permissions on document metadata. For example, you may provide two workers access to the document, but each of them would be able to see a distinct set of information.

This is especially useful when you need to hide important information on a document, such as salaries, budget, and net profit, from everyone except department leaders.

Check this article What is METADATA: Why Is It Extremely Important? (theecmconsultant.com) if you are new to document metadata.

7- Develop a Record Retention Policy

Records retention refers to the strategies and practices used by companies to save significant information for a certain amount of time for administrative, financial, legal, and historical purposes.

It applies to both physical documents and electronic records such as word documents, spreadsheets, scanned papers, and videos.

Check out What Is Records Retention: Why It Is A Must For Organizations (theecmconsultant.com) for more information

What is document security example?

Document security is an important aspect of protecting your company’s intellectual property. There are many different ways to secure a document, and each one has its own pros and cons.

We will start with the most basic level of protection, which is password protected. Password protection is a great way to keep people from accessing your document without authorization. But there are some drawbacks to this method as well. The first drawback is that if someone knows your password, they can still access the document without any issues. The second issue with password protection is that you have to remember what your password was in order for you to access the document again later on down the line.

In the second level, we will talk about our encryption methods like AES and RSA encryption. These methods use a key in order for users to decode the document

Conclusion

Maintaining strong levels of document security is critical for all companies. Without it, rivals may obtain sensitive information such as client data, or workers may have access to information they should not, such as salary or performance reports.

Implementing an organization-wide document management and document security best practices can reduce the worry of leaking sensitive material to the public to a larger extent.

FAQ

What is document security and why is it important?

Document security is the process of ensuring that documents are only accessible to authorized people. This is done by controlling access to the document and limiting who can make changes. It is important because it reduces the risk of data leakage and ensures that the content of a document remains unchanged.

What are the advantages of document security?

There are many advantages of document security:

1. Prevent unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction of information;

2. Prevent unauthorized access to systems and data;

3. Protect the privacy of users;

4. Support compliance with laws and regulations;

5. Maintain availability of systems and data

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