Businesses understand the need for secure document storage. While employees and clients might create and share content primarily via websites and apps, documents, such as those for legal, financial, or tax purposes, are still very much in use. Additionally, the need to securely store and retrieve those documents is still critical, given the often timely and sensitive nature of these documents.
Why Documents Need Secure Online Storage
There are several reasons organizations need secure online document storage today, especially with the increasing demand for efficient and reliable legal document management software to streamline their workflows and ensure compliance.
Multiple Devices and Work from Anywhere
Employees, customers, and partners are most likely using several devices simultaneously to conduct business from locations all over the country (and, possibly, the world). Using a cloud-based platform to create, edit, send, and review files is imperative, as relying on files saved locally on a single device would reduce efficiency.
Further to the idea of employees using multiple devices for document collaboration and sharing, employees are also most likely using their own Wi-Fi connections — the security of which can vary based on hardware, security settings, and firmware (the operating system of the Wi-Fi router). As such, secure online document storage can strengthen data security and privacy when the documents are at rest (where they are stored) and in transit (when they are sent).
Risk of a Breach and Preventing Human Error
Security concerns are at an all-time high. According to IBM, the average cost of a breach in 2022 was $4.25 million.
Further, not all cyber attacks are the result of malicious actors. Oftentimes, employees forget to change security settings or inadvertently send the wrong document externally. Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 82% of breaches involved the human element, including both external social attacks as well as internal errors and misuse. As such, advanced security features in the document storage platform lower the risk of a mistake by an employee.
Features of a Secure Document Storage Platform
While cloud-based document storage is now ubiquitous, even for consumers with a smartphone and an Apple ID or Gmail account, it’s essential to understand the features of a secure document storage platform for an organization.
Multiple Access Levels
Users of Google Docs are familiar with the Viewer, Commenter, and Editor status, but an enterprise document storage platform will most likely have several additional roles. The administrator of such a platform should also be able to create different access levels or rights for team members based on their title, seniority level, employee/consultant status, and the like. This is helpful when granting access to large groups of individuals at once.
The Need for Permission
No user should be able to alter, copy, duplicate, share, or print without the administrator’s permission. If a participant needs a different level of access, the administrator should understand why, perhaps through additional documentation, and seek a solution that respects both parties’ need for privacy.
The document storage platform should provide a mechanism to track who has accessed which document at what time and for how long. Any unusual activity, such as attempts to send or share a document with an unauthorized individual, should be identified quickly so that appropriate remedial measures can be taken and any issues averted.
If the storage solution is too complex, there will be lower adoption. The storage solution should enable administrators to easily make updates, such as removing or adding documents or granting permissions to certain people, without much hassle. The interface should also be clean and intuitive, encouraging employees and partners to use it.
Communication, Annotation, and Q&A
The ability to add comments or make annotations should be built into the platform. This facilitates the document review process and serves as a security feature: users do not need to leave the platform to send messages or comment via another, possibly unsecured application.
Best Practices for Secure Document Storage
Even with the most robust platform for storing documents, there are several best practices that employees and partners can use to ensure the strongest safety of sensitive data.
Decide when to Delete or Destroy
Aging documents are a liability. When a document hasn’t been accessed or updated for quite some time, there is a risk that it will be used for a current project even though a newer version of the document exists. Further, older documents might contain sensitive information, which could be valuable to cyber attackers.
As a best practice, destroy documents that have not been accessed for two years or longer. However, before doing so, download them to an external hard drive and be sure to make sure you understand your industry’s record-keeping requirements to avoid audit issues down the line.
Create Folders and Institute Naming Conventions
As unusual as this sounds, how you name and save documents locally or in the cloud can affect the security of your documents. When documents are named improperly, individuals will not know for sure what the document contains, and might create a brand new document containing the same, sensitive information. This is a security risk.
Likewise, it’s vital to keep documents and files organized intuitively. This helps employees find the documents they need quickly, without having to rely on performing searches and then evaluating the search results to determine which document is the one that they need.
As a best practice, institute standardized naming conventions for both documents and folders and provide documentation and even training where necessary.
How to Use Caplinked’s Virtual Data Room for Secure Document Storage
While users of enterprise document hosting and sharing platforms are most likely aware of basic uploading, editing, and sharing features, a virtual data room (VDR) promises the most advanced features related to secure document storage.
As projects and transactions become more complex and are handled by larger and more distributed teams, security is critical when handling large volumes of highly-sensitive data.
A VDR is the easiest and most secure way to host these documents in the cloud in order to assure speedy financial due diligence. With rights management, permissioning, tracking and other advanced features, transactions could be delayed without it.
Organizations should consider an enterprise document security solution like Caplinked, which has years of experience working with corporate, financial, and legal teams and providing VDRs for transactions and ventures of all sizes.
Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, Jake covers such topics as security, mobility, e-commerce, and IoT.
Verizon — 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report