February 14, 2024

Mastering Security with Business Documents

Document Generation

Introduction

Document security is crucial for protecting sensitive information, complying with regulations, preserving privacy, preventing identity theft, safeguarding intellectual property, maintaining trust, and preventing data breaches.

In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the document management lifecycle, top document security strategies through each phase of the document management lifecycle, and popular tools you can implement to ensure security at every step. 

What is the Document Management Lifecycle?

At Inkit, we’ve defined the document management lifecycle to consist of five key phases, each involving different activities for different purposes. These phases generally include:

Document Creation: This phase involves the creation of new documents, whether customized or using a pre-built template. The various steps include drafting, writing, compiling, or capturing data manually or via API, into a chosen document format, whether it’s MS Office, PDF, or HTML.

Document Collaboration and Review: Once created, documents may undergo editing, review, and approval processes involving multiple stakeholders. This phase includes activities such as commenting, tracking changes, version control, and workflow automation to ensure smooth collaboration.

Document Storage and Organization: Both paper and digital documents are stored in a centralized repository, filing system, or document management system. Digital documents have the benefit of being organized using folder structures, metadata, tags, or other classification methods to facilitate easy retrieval and management.

Document Retrieval and Access: Depending on the type or classification, authorized users may retrieve documents from the repository based on their access permissions. For digital documents, search functionality and indexing systems help users locate documents quickly and efficiently.

Document Distribution and Sharing: Documents may need to be shared internally or externally with partners, clients, or stakeholders. Depending on the type of communication, the document may need to be distributed securely through various channels, such as email, shared folders, or collaboration platforms like Slack.

Document Retention and Archiving: Documents are retained for a specified period based on legal, regulatory, or organizational policies and standards. After a certain period, documents may be archived or disposed of according to established retention rules. For paper documents, this may involve shredding and physical removal by a secure service provider.

By understanding and effectively securing each phase of the document management lifecycle, organizations can reliably protect documents, employees, and customers, while ensuring compliance and productivity of day-to-day operations. Here’s top strategies to improve the productivity of your organization at each phase.

Document Generation Timeline

Top Strategies for Secure Document Management

The top goals for a secure document management system are: 1) limit unauthorized access to documents and document tools, 2) restrict unauthorized sharing both internally and externally, 3) improve compliance to existing security rules and policies, and 4) reduce impact to the accessibility of documents.

To achieve the aforementioned goals, improving security throughout the document management lifecycle involves ample training, efficient workflows, and secure technology. Here's some strategies to consider when assessing the security of your document management system.

Document Creation Phase:

Depending on the type of business or document, the document creation phase may be a continuous or ad hoc activity. To ensure security during this phase, consider the following: 

Train employees: Educate staff on security best practices when creating documents, including the importance of strong passwords, encryption, and data classification.

Implement access controls: Limit access to document creation tools and platforms to authorized personnel only.

Use encryption: Enable encryption for sensitive documents to protect them from unauthorized access during creation and transmission.

Standardize templates: Create secure, standardized templates for different types of documents to ensure consistency and save time.

Automate routine documents: For commonly-occurring documents that need minimal oversight, consider automation tools like Inkit which integrate with existing CRM and business software.

Document Collaboration and Review

Once created, documents may need peer-editing, or review and approval from internal or external parties. To ensure only authorized access during this process, consider the following:

Enable secure collaboration tools: Use collaboration platforms with built-in security features. Secure DocGen tools like Inkit come with built-in encrypted communication, access controls, and version history tracking.

Encrypt communication channels: Ensure that communication channels used for collaboration, such as email or messaging apps, are encrypted to protect document content from interception.

Implement secure document workflows: Configure document review and approval workflows with appropriate access controls and authentication mechanisms to prevent unauthorized changes or approvals.

Set permissions and access controls: Define user roles and permissions to control who can view, edit, and share documents to maintain security and privacy.

Document Storage and Organization:

Stored documents may need to be searched for and retrieved by authorized users at a later date. Secure this process for your organization with the following: 

Choose secure storage solutions: Consider cloud-based solutions like Inkit, SharePoint, Google Drive, or Dropbox for centralized storage accessible from anywhere, with robust security features, such as encryption, access controls, and audit trails.

Apply access controls: Restrict access to documents based on user roles and permissions, limiting exposure to sensitive information.

Regularly audit permissions: Review and update access permissions to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive documents.

Document Distribution and Sharing:

For the utmost security, confidential or sensitive documents must only be accessible and available to authorized users. Here’s how to ensure secure and effective distribution and access to business documents:

Use secure sharing methods: Determine who needs access to specific documents and distribute them accordingly to prevent unauthorized access. Employ secure file sharing solutions that encrypt data in transit and allow granular control over access permissions.

Educate users on safe sharing practices: Train employees on how to securely share documents and avoid inadvertently exposing sensitive information to unauthorized parties.

Implement data loss prevention (DLP) measures: Utilize DLP tools to monitor and prevent the unauthorized sharing of sensitive documents outside the organization. When possible, use sharing options that restrict downloads, prevent screenshots, or auto-destruct after a certain amount of time or views. 

Secure document capture processes: Ensure that scanning devices and screenshotting software are configured with appropriate security settings to prevent unauthorized access to scanned or screenshotted documents. For more on anti-screen capture technology, check out our blog.

Monitor document access: Track document access and usage to identify potential security breaches or unauthorized activity.

Document Retention and Archiving:

At the end of the life cycle, documents must be properly archived or disposed of, depending on regulatory and business requirements. 

Establish retention policies: Define clear guidelines for document retention based on regulatory requirements and organizational needs.

Encrypt archived documents: Encrypt archived documents to protect them from unauthorized access during storage and retrieval.

Implement secure archiving solutions: Choose archiving solutions with robust security features, such as access controls, encryption, and tamper-evident audit trails.

Regularly review and purge outdated documents: Periodically review documents to identify obsolete or redundant ones and remove them from the system to maintain a lean document repository.

Securely delete documents: Use secure deletion methods to permanently erase sensitive documents from storage devices, ensuring they cannot be recovered.

Shred physical documents: Dispose of physical documents containing sensitive information by shredding them to prevent unauthorized access to the information.

With these strategies in place, you’ll improve the cybersecurity health of your business document management system. Here’s some tools you can use to implement these tactics.

Tools for Achieving Productive Document Management

While security strategies, policies, and standards give organizations a framework to improve the security posture of your document management system, secure solutions and cloud-based tools provide the technical expertise that thwart cyberattacks in the long-term. Here are some recommended tools to enhance productivity throughout the document lifecycle.

Inkit:  Inkit is a digital document generation (DocGen) system that allows offices to go paperless, while completely securing and automating their end-to-end document management system. Inkit provides encryption for documents at rest and in transit, and enables advanced sharing features that prevent screenshots, restrict downloads, provide auto-delete functionality, and automate document retention based on your org’s policies.

Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace: Both platforms offer built-in security features such as encryption, access controls, and secure collaboration tools for creating and editing documents.

Microsoft SharePoint: SharePoint offers robust document management capabilities with features for access control, encryption, versioning, and audit trails to secure documents throughout their lifecycle.

Box or Dropbox Business: These cloud storage solutions provide advanced security features such as encryption, access controls, and activity monitoring to protect stored documents.

Okta or Microsoft Azure Active Directory: These identity and access management (IAM) platforms offer centralized authentication and access control solutions for securely managing user access to documents.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Identity and Access Management (IAM): For organizations using AWS, IAM provides granular access control and permissions management for securing access to stored documents.

Citrix ShareFile or Egnyte: These secure file sharing platforms offer encrypted file transfer, access controls, and tracking capabilities to ensure secure document sharing both internally and externally.

Tresorit or pCloud: These cloud storage and file sharing solutions prioritize end-to-end encryption and client-side encryption to protect documents during sharing and collaboration.

Document Collaboration and Review:

Microsoft Teams or Slack: These collaboration platforms offer secure messaging, file sharing,

Final Thoughts

From creation to archiving and deletion, your organization has the opportunity to improve security and privacy for customers, employees, and stakeholders. Inkit’s secure, low-to-no code platform allows you to easily create, share, sign, and store documents with auto-retention processes that comply with your security and document retention policies. Additionally, Inkit allows offices to virtually eliminate the need for paper documents, saving time and money on manual filing and storage.

To learn how you can best protect your org’s documents, get in touch with Inkit’s DocGen experts or email us at sales@inkit.com. Trusted by the Airforce, DoD, and top institutions where privacy and security matter most.

Trusted by Those Who Put Privacy First

Schedule your platform demo today and see how Inkit can help your organization.