Every organization relies on documentation, from the smallest start-up to the largest federal agency. However, keeping those documents and records secure is a critical part of business operations, protecting valuable data from misuse and insulating organizations from attacks.
Insecure documentation, difficult-to-manage physical records, and even those jam-packed filing cabinets of yore mean organizations are at risk of losing business-critical information to filing errors, damage, and even malicious intent. In the United States alone, the average cost of a single data breach like this is a huge $9.48 million — a cost that could easily be avoided by implementing secure document policies.
So, how can businesses ensure the security of their documentation? What exactly should a business look for in a secure document repository, and what is a document repository anyway?
This article will delve into the importance of secure document management and provide eight crucial factors to look for when choosing a secure document repository provider.
What is a Secure Document Repository?
A document repository is a centralized and controlled environment, virtual or physical, where business documents are stored. In the past, this may have been a filing cabinet or storage room on the business’s premises. Today, document repositories are more likely to be virtual, with documentation stored in the cloud and accessible from anywhere.
For it to be successful, however, a document repository must be secure. This means guaranteeing that documents in the repository cannot be accessed by unauthorized users and that documentation cannot be copied, duplicated, or inappropriately shared without express reason to do so. A secure document repository is also safe from external threats to the documentation, with a comprehensive backup system and a disaster recovery plan.
8 Key Attributes of a Secure Document Repository
Project managers or solution architects who are new to the world of document management may be overwhelmed by the number of options available. However, there are some key attributes that procurement managers can look for to ensure the security of their document repository.
- Easy Integration
Gaps in your workflow are weaknesses. When on the hunt for a document management system, ensure that the repository is able to integrate seamlessly with your existing applications for a streamlined workflow.
If your business relies on Microsoft Office programs, for instance, ensure that your document repository system can send, receive, and organize Microsoft files. The key is ensuring that your documents can freely be generated, edited, and shared with users within the applications you already trust without having to open a new tab, key in information, or download files locally to upload them once again. This reduces moments of security weaknesses and facilitates secure document sharing.
Organizations are rarely static for too long. A document repository that suits your team today may need to look very different tomorrow. It is critical that project managers and architects work with their procurement team to find a scalable solution.
Our expert recommendation is to seek low-code platforms for their versatility and rapid integrations. As well as this, look for solutions that offer a plethora of features for expanding businesses, including legally binding agreements and contracts, digital signatures, and document generation.
Even if your team doesn't need these features right now, the chances are your business will grow into them. Having a scalable solution mitigates the risks of having to change document repository providers in the short term and reduces long-term costs associated with solution management.
- Secure Document Retention & Archival
In some cases, documents must be retained and archived for long periods of time to keep mission-critical information or for legal compliance reasons. Insecure archival processes open up organizations to breaches of legacy data.
A secure document repository should include the ability to set expiration rules based on industry standards or a designated time frame to streamline record archival and document deletion. This way, critical documentation is never stored longer than necessary, and confidential data is protected.
In addition, storage locations must be encrypted and access strictly controlled. These features, explored in more detail below, are crucial for a successful and secure document archiving process.
- Customizable Roles & Permissions
It’s important that a document repository is secure at multiple levels. In any organization, some users need to have access to more than others, and your document solutions should be able to handle this.
Look for a secure document repository that offers customizable roles and permissions based on custom folders, groups, or hierarchies to ensure your users can only access authorized documents. Ideally, your solution should offer infinite combinations of permissions and roles to align completely with your business objectives and department structure.
- Audit Logs
Once users access your files, it’s important to keep track of what they do there. Accessing documentation, sharing and downloading authorized files, and making small edits — all these actions can go unnoticed without a comprehensive audit trail.
Look for a secure document repository that tracks user behavior over time and flags suspicious activity based on pre-configured criteria.
- Disappearing Documents
Without proper management, documents can go missing or be incorrectly handled. Links shared with unauthorized users or documents saved locally on insecure hard drives all represent security risks, making it easy for mismanaged documentation to end up in the wrong hands.
To avoid this, a secure document management system should include tight controls. One example is a Disappearing Document feature that creates documents that self-destruct upon a pre-set expiration date or number of views. A secure document repository should also allow for manual deletion across the platform and configurable deletion and expiration rules to prevent old documents from getting lost.
- Magic Links
Keeping track of documentation is harder when you must invite users outside of your organization. External organizations may not have a secure document repository system of their own, and inviting external users into your system can provide points of weakness in your security.
As a result, the best document repositories should make use of features such as Magic Links, which generate a one-time link to documents that then self-destruct after a period of time. This link can be shared with authorized users to control access to documentation even when collaborating with external teams, keeping your main document repository secure from external threats.
- End-to-End Encryption
Finally, ensure that your document repository includes encryption as standard. Encryption adds an extra level of security to your documentation, ensuring that breaches, leaks, and insider threats are averted.
In today’s society, cybersecurity threats are everywhere. Organizations must do more to protect themselves and the people they serve from security risks and data leaks.
One critical aspect of this protection is a secure document repository. Yet, with a myriad of providers available on the market, it is increasingly difficult for organizations to select a secure document repository that will suit complex security needs, integrate within their existing system, and is scalable to handle growth.
Contact us to learn more about how our customers are using Inkit to create a secure document management system or book a personalized demo today.