Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Going Paperless at Work. - 5. Increase Document Security

Increase Document Security

(#5 of a series.)

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In the last blog in this series we discussed digital document workflow automation and how that compresses business cycle times, eliminates lost documents, increases accuracy and leads to improved decision making.  Today we'll be discussing the increasing criticality of business document security.

Because of check fraud, regulatory compliance, identity theft, and confidentiality leaks, every business is looking for ways to improve the security of sensitive business documents.  Pre-printed check forms are purchased in bulk to save money and have to be locked away in secure storage, but they still represent a vulnerability to theft and forgery.  Documents in hard copy stored in file cabinets are difficult to secure even if the cabinets are locked.  According to NACHA, payroll checks and pay stubs are touched on average nine times before they reach the end recipient, so there's no way to tell whether someone not authorized to a particular document may have seen it.  Paper documents are easy to misplace or misfile, and that further complicates the security problem.

Digital documents are much easier to control.  Secured digital overlays for printing checks on blank safety stock eliminate the expense and some of the vulnerability of pre-printed check stock with imprinted MICR lines.  Access to digital documents can be controlled through authorization lists with layers of security.  If a person transitions in the enterprise, those rights can be easily changed or revoked at any point in time.  Sensitive information within a document can be redacted for lower authority level access so that required information can be viewed without compromising the sensitive data.  

As digital documents move throughout an organization and between organizations they can be encrypted for protection from unauthorized eyes.  And every time a digital document is accessed an audit record is created with the identity of the individual viewing the document and the date and time of access.  When it's time to destroy digital documents at the end of their life cycle, it's an automatic process and not subject to human handling as required in shredding paper documents.

As we know from the recent WikiLeaks news stories, there is no absolute document security, even with digital documents.  We must be more diligent in managing authorities and be very careful in choosing to whom we grant access to sensitive documents.  However, control over digital documents is vastly superior to that of paper documents.  And, as more and more documents move into cloud storage, they acquire additional layers of security.  Cloud providers have teams of security specialists monitoring activity around the clock to guard against security breaches, taking security to the next level beyond what is found in most corporate data centers.  

One of the most important advantages of moving to more paperless business environments is the additional control and security that we have over intellectual property and an increased ability to prevent fraud and identity theft.  We can expect to see an increased focus in the future on all aspects of security, especially the security of sensitive business documents.

Until next time,

John Queen