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Reduce risk in the enterprise by digitising documents

03 Apr 2018

As digital transformation continues to pervade more areas of the modern enterprise, security risks will appear in more areas of the business. Digitisation of content is one way to tighten enterprise security and ensure that information stays in the right hands.

When looking at the digitisation of files and documents, the very process of moving away from paper documents and storing information digitally reduces risk.

Confidential information can be easily lost, or passed into the wrong hands. While it does take time and money to set up a good security plan, relying on paper documentation is one of the largest gaps an enterprise faces, and also one of the hardest to police.

Relying on staff members to remember and adhere to security rules around sensitive documents is fraught with risk, and seems deeply inefficient when so many security processes can be automated once documentation is moved to digital format.

Australia has many recent examples of document security issues, including several well-documented security lapses at the highest levels of the public service sector and high-profile breaches in our hospital system. In most cases, a modern digital solution could have solved these problems. .

While it is possible to conceive and deploy a strict security policy, it will always be a challenge to make it stick within a large enterprise since policies rely on all stakeholders within the system doing the right thing all of the time.

Moving documents to a digital format allows several layers of security to be applied to them. By using an enterprise content management (ECM) platform as part of a content services solution, documents can be stored, used and managed according to whatever protocols the organisation chooses to put in place. With an automated system that applies the rules exactly as they are set out, it mitigates many of the risks of relying on employees to self-govern or adhere to multi-faceted security policies during their busy work lives.

Access control can be applied to virtual documents in the same way as it applies to physical access. At the end-point, two-factor authentication ensures that the person engaging with a file or document is actually allowed to do so. By using a secure token such as an ID card, a user can be granted or denied access to a file, or a particular part of the network. By setting access protocols on sensitive documents, only employees with a right to access those documents can get their hands on them.

For example, an administration worker might be allowed to access facility records, human resources files and certain accounting files, but denied access to marketing documents or financial records to which they do not need access in the course of their daily tasks.

Access control of digitised documents also allows for an easy audit of who has accessed or opened a document, as it leaves a digital footprint for security administrators to follow. This allows them full visibility on who exactly has accessed a document, what time it was opened, where the person was at the time it was opened, how long it was open for and so forth.

Once a file has reached the conclusion of its use to the organisation, it can be securely deleted from all records. This end-of-life process can be automated, so certain documents can have a finite lifespan, and be set to auto-delete after a specified time. This has the benefit of reducing archived files, and reduces any risk associated with having unnecessary files hanging around in the system longer than they need to be.

Think back to a paper solution. End-of-life activities for documents used to come with the associated risks of physically locating files, moving them off-premises or at least out of their secure location, and having someone physically destroy them.

In many countries, according to local laws, once an employee leaves the organisation their documentation must be kept for a certain length of time, then destroyed. Companies in the US have been sued for keeping employee information on file outside of the designated disposal times.

Setting up a content services solution solves many of the headaches around document security, allowing administrators to set their own rules for file access and sharing, which cannot be circumvented and are not subject to human failure.

Employees will have fast, secure access to information that they are authorised to view and use. If they have the necessary authority for that file, they can choose to share it with other employees, again setting up protocols allowing others to view, edit or delete that document.

Digitising documents is the safest way to reduce file-associated risk in an organisation, and gives control back to the people whose job it is to secure the enterprise.

Article by Hyland APAC director Eugene Chng.

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