Document Security: The Complete Guide (With Helpful Tips)

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Document security is the protection of information throughout its full life cycle, beginning with creation and ending with disposition including safe archiving storage. It entails safeguarding records and classified files against loss, illegal access, damage, theft, and compromise.

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 business content management.

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 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.

A document management system can help us implement document security more easily for simpler allocation and sharing.

Tips for Improving Digital 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.

The top document security tips to follow are:

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 cloud storage services and document management systems allow physical digital files to be encrypted and only visible within their solutions. As a result, only authorized employees 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). 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 on 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.

This manner, only users in this specific group will be able to view, alter, download, update metadata, and so on 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 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 (

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? ( 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 ( for more information


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.

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