October 30

Document Security is Paramount

One of the most difficult decisions in management is deciding when to hire a document management solution and what one is the best choice. What attributes are most important—finding and accessing files, getting rid of paper-based systems, and better preparing for audits and open records requests? But security matters especially when you have documents that people want to take.

A recent article on Business Insider noted security as one of the five reasons for considering a document management system. We agree, and this Business Insider article inspired us to elaborate on the security component of document management.

If you are thinking about switching to a document management system, these additional areas related to security will help you come to a decision.

  • Setting Permissions Unlike a paper-based, unstructured (Google Docs or Microsoft Office documents), or consumer-based document management system (like Dropbox), a more robust document management system will allow you to more rigorously set and manage permissions for who can access what documents. This feature prevents unauthorized people from gaining access to sensitive documents.
  • Receiving Security Notifications In a document management system, administrators receive notifications when people add, edit, or delete documents. These notifications serve as red flags for any suspicious activity.
  • Benefiting From Full Data Center Security Document management systems are typically stored and managed in the cloud or—at the very least—in high-end data centers. These data centers provide physical security, employee background checks, and the best security for your servers. (Read our recent article on how to assess a data center as it relates to website hosting.)
  • Ensuring Full Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Frequent snapshots of your data along with a full disaster recovery plan helps ensure that you won’t lose your documents if a tornado, fire, or theft occurs.
  • Encrypting Your Documents State of the art document management systems encrypt your documents so that if people somehow get hold of the information, that information is useless. If someone steals a laptop or gains access to a mobile device, the information will be inaccessible and worthless.

However, while these are security benefits of a document management system, all vendors are not created equal. Ask the following questions as you assess the security component of your document management vendor.

1. How much do I know about their data center best practices?
2. Is the document management system well known? Is it used by many other cities?
3. Does the vendor audit their document management security? Are they willing to submit to a third party audit?
4. What is the data backup and disaster recovery plan for your documents?
5. How are permissions set? How does administrative access work?
6. What do I know about the vendor’s employees who will have administrative access to my sensitive documents? Do the vendor’s employees submit to
criminal background checks?
7. What happens when a laptop or mobile device is stolen? How will my documents be protected?

Finally, consider your own security policies. No vendor or IT staff can account for every security breach—especially breaches related to how you create and share information from a business process viewpoint. Employees must be careful about where and how they access documents, giving out or sharing passwords, and understanding the nature of scams and hacking attacks.

For more about securing your document management system, contact us.


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