IMS Tech Blog

Improve Document Security for Small to Medium Sized Businesses

Data breaches happen all the time, but many small and medium-sized business aren't equipped to prevent or manage such an event.

The first step to improving data management is to boost document security.

Why is Document Security Important for SMEs?

Data protection is essential as technology becomes more sophisticated and clients are more aware of the safety and privacy of their information.

The rules are changing worldwide. Dated laws didn't account for the impact of future technologies, such as the internet, on data protection. Legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulations in the European Union, affects how companies should store, handle, control, share, and destroy data.

Inefficient security, both online and off, puts a business at risk. Incorrect use or access of confidential data, whether a customer’s or company’s sensitive information, is damaging. You could face legal action if you haven't taken steps to improve document and cybersecurity.

Steps to Take for Improved Security and Streamlined Processing

Improving document security will improve your business efficiency. If you're worried that a process review will take too much time, consider how much it will save you in the long run.

Below are steps towards improving your processes for added security.

Introduce Version Control Methods

Updated documents can be lost on a shared drive. All it takes is for one person to send out an old contract or data processing consent form, and your business is at risk.

Implement version control to introduce clarity and make sure everyone uses the latest document. Delete or archive old versions and circulate the final version with the instruction that any templates, or previously downloaded versions, must be deleted from staff hard drives.

Convert Paper Documents to Digital Files

Scanning documents to store as a digital file will save you time and money as well as improving security.

You need less physical storage space for large documentation such as blueprints. You will also find the item you need without spending time searching for it.

A scanned document can also be encrypted, locked with a password, and stored securely with restricted access.

Invest in a Document Management System

Electronic document processing eliminates or reduces the margin for error by diminishing the amount of human action required for document storage and archive. Controls are set to allow certain people access for upload, download, and viewing rights.

All of your documents can be uploaded to a secure cloud server. You can set version controls in place, and make sure that any documents are using the most recent template.

Online documentation with strong version control will speed up business processes. You won't spend time looking for the right document and you can remain confident that the template you're using is the most current one.

Working in the cloud means you don't have to invest in additional server space or backup hard drives. Your document management system provider will have extra security protocols in place to protect your data.

Restrict Access Levels

Set restrictions on your document access for both digital and paper systems. Lock filing cabinets for paper documents, and limit who can view, edit, and upload new documents to your shared drive or document management system.

Restricted access protects the data integrity of your documentation and heightens security. Confidential files will only be accessed by those who need to see the information, which further protects data security.

Secure Destruction or Shredding of Old Documents

Put protocols in place to ensure secure destruction of your old documents. For paperwork, it means secure document shredding services with a certified provider.

For digital documents, it means making sure all versions are deleted from every source. If you must keep documents, such as tax information, store them in an encrypted archive.

Improve BYOD Cybersecurity Policies

Consider whether you will allow staff to bring their own device (BYOD) to work. This could be a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone.

There are arguments bothfor,and against, implementing this policy. People are more productive when they can use their own device, but it adds risk to malware access on your server.

Improve your BYOD policies and cybersecurity by implementing protocols for added security. For example, you may allow personal devices to be used, but only to view documents in the cloud without allowing uploads to the server.

Additional security options, such as installing secure partitions, are also something worth considering. Staff permissions will be required for softwareto be installed on their personal device, but it adds security to both your business network and their own device.

Update Your Firewall and Antivirus

An out-of-date antivirus program or firewall leaves your digital data at risk to hackers. High-profile cases such as the WannaCry ransomware, which affected over 300,000 computers worldwide, have highlighted the necessity for consistent antivirus updates.

A good antivirus and firewall program doesn’t only operate in an internet browser. It scans emails, analyzes behaviors, and delivers heightened mobile security as well. You should find software that will analyze documents prior to being opened, as well as during operation, to minimize the risk of ransomware and malware attacks.

Secure Electronic Documents with Passwords

When you send out confidential documents such as contracts, make sure only relevant people can access it. The same applies to any documentation that staff can access on your servers.

Lock digital templates and documents with passwords, and always send them via an encrypted email service. Never send the password with the document.

Frequent Data Backups

Protect your business against mass data loss by running regular backups. You should aim to update daily wherever possible, so if the worst happens, you only lose up to 24 hours of data.

You can back up your business data on a hard drive, or securely in the cloud. A cloud server has added data protection protocols and will store data in more than one place. This means any disaster, such as fire or flood, will not affect your data.

Improve Staff Training

Regular staff training updates mean everyone can be accountable for their actions. Make sure they know how to recognize a phishing email or potential malware activity, and what to do if they think your system has been compromised.

How to Further Improve Document Security

When you've implemented all the security measures that you can, it's a good idea to call in experts for additional security. There are many ways you can improve document security, but it often takes an external eye to see how you can streamline your business and protect your data.

Get in touch today to find out how IMS Technology Group can improve your business data security.

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