Information security has become more important than ever, especially as a growing number of threats lurk online and data breaches become increasingly common. Unfortunately, it appears that even some of the largest companies and corporations in the world with some of the most robust cybersecurity systems in place are not immune to data breaches. Regardless of the industry in which your organization operates, it’s important to constantly revisit your document management and information security strategies.
This is particularly important if your organization is required to operate under a regulatory commission. Healthcare organizations, for instance, must follow specific regulations detailed in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Meanwhile, other regulatory commissions such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have strict regulations regarding how sensitive data should be handled and guarded.
If your organization reports to a regulatory commission, you must stay on top of changes in their requirements — especially as they relate to the dynamic world of cybersecurity. And if you’re currently using an outdated method of filing and storing important documents that contain sensitive information, you could be out of compliance and putting your data at risk.
The good news? Upgrading your old-school document management system to an innovative document management software platform can help you improve your organization’s information security while ensuring you’re within regulatory compliance as well. And by understanding the many ways in which the right document management software can help you boost information security, you’ll be in a better position to move forward with this transition.
Why Document Security and Regulatory Compliance Matters
If you’ve seen news headlines about major corporations suffering from data breaches, then you know just how much this type of press can negatively impact a business. Now, take a minute to think about how your own organization’s reputation could be tarnished if you were to suffer from a data breach — especially if that data breach exposed potentially sensitive information of your clients or customers (payment information, medical information, social security numbers, etc.).
In addition to simply being a bad look for your business, a data breach can also get your organization in a lot of trouble with any regulatory commissions to which you report. If your data breach is determined to be caused by a lack of proper information security protocols, you could end up facing significant penalties and fines from these regulatory commissions.
And of course, there are the practical issues that come along with misplacing or losing documents/files. The costs to recreate or restore these files can add up quickly, costing your business money and resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
Can Document Management Software Improve Your Compliance and Boost Security?
Whether you’re still using “old-school” methods of document management (like paper and filing cabinets) or are simply using an outdated or clunky document management program, upgrading your document management software can make all the difference. Specifically, there are four key ways in which upgrading to the right document management software can improve your compliance and boost information security in the process.
1. Backup Files Remotely and Electronically
Depending on the industry in which your organization operates, there’s a chance that you might actually be required to maintain some form of third-party data backup. This often means that you will need to have a separate server (often in a third-party location or data center) where your files are backed up regularly. This way, in the event of a data loss or data breach on your primary server, you will still have access to all of your files elsewhere. This prevents them from becoming a total loss.
Fortunately, many document management software programs offer this added layer of protection in the form of an electronic storage backup. Some programs may even offer the option to have your data backed up automatically on a schedule of your choosing, so you don’t have to remember to do it manually. Having this third-party backup can help you stay within your industry’s regulatory requirements. Meanwhile, you’ll enjoy added peace of mind and protection of your most sensitive data and files.
2. Automate Your Document Storage Protocols
Speaking of automation, the right document management software will include automated storage processes and features to make your life easier while increasing overall data security. For example, some programs may offer the ability to “tag” documents with keywords so that these files can be quickly and easily found in a search. This keeps data more secure while saving your organization time, money, and resources associated with tracking down paper files or even replacing lost/missing files.
These types of features can reduce your organization’s risk of misplacing or compromising sensitive data, which can keep you in compliance and help you avoid penalties, fines, and other problems.
3. Enjoy Added Peace of Mind With Audit Trailing
Another feature that many document management software programs offer that can increase security is audit trailing. Specifically, audit trailing refers to the ability to track every interaction made with a file/document by all approved users. For example, if a file goes missing or errors are made in its editing, audit trails allow a program administrator to find out exactly which user was last to open and interact with the document. This, in turn, can make it easier to determine who is responsible for the changes or what happened to the document itself.
Many audit trailing features also make it possible to “revert” back to a previous document version when needed. Therefore, any mistakes or unfavorable changes can be undone with this type of feature. It could also help your organization avoid a potentially serious data loss that could otherwise get you in trouble with your industry’s regulatory board.
4. Precisely Control Access to Each File and Document
Last but certainly not least, a document management software program offers precise access control functions. This allows the administrator to very specifically determine which users have access to which documents and files, thus creating added layers of security. With “traditional” methods of document management (such as paper and filing cabinets), it can be challenging to control who has access to each document. However, having everything stored digitally in a document management program makes it much easier to add these important layers of security that can keep information safer.
In addition to access control, many of these programs also come with security features like multi-factor authentication. This feature requires those logging on to the program to go through at least two steps to authenticate their identity. This usually includes entering the correct password and entering a one-time code that is sent to the email address or phone number linked to the account. This is just another way that document management software can boost information security and prevent unwanted access to important files.
How Do You Know You’re Choosing the Right Document Management Software?
As soon as you begin your search for document management software, you’ll find that there is no shortage of options available to you. So, how can you know which solution is right for your organization?
First and foremost, it’s always a good idea to consult with your industry’s regulatory compliance board; they may have specific recommendations on document management platforms that are designed with your industry’s unique security needs in mind. Likewise, if there are specific security features you will be required to have, you’ll want to be aware of these before you begin your search.
Aside from that, you’ll want to make sure that the document management platform you end up choosing has all the security features mentioned above. This should include:
- Access control
- Multi-factor authentication
- Audit trailing
- Document storage automation
- Remote data backups
In addition to finding a platform with these features, you’ll also want to choose a program that has an inherently user-friendly and intuitive design. This will help ease the transition between whatever document storage solution you currently have and the new program. This will also help cut down on the amount of training time you need to allocate towards showing employees how to use the software, which can save your organization precious time and resources. Ideally, the platform you end up choosing will include some kind of dedicated support as your organization makes this transition.
Document Management Software and Information Security: The Bottom Line
Staying within regulatory compliance is important not just for the reputation and success of your business but for your information security as well. There is simply no place for outdated document storage solutions in today’s high-risk environment. Fortunately, there has never been a better time to upgrade to a document management software program; and when you choose the right program for your business, the transition can be a lot easier than you might think. From there, you can enjoy the added information security and peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re doing everything you can to protect your organization’s most sensitive data and avoid regulatory compliance conflicts.
Alexa Pritchard is the Marketing Communications Specialist at Square 9 Softworks. As a marketing strategist, she develops, drives and executes communication plans that effectively support Square 9’s overall marketing goals and objectives.