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18 Top Tips for Securing Electronic Documents

Electronic document security is an important element for companies that conduct business online. Learn how to protect your business from future cyber threats.
December 19, 2023

Cybercrime is big money, expected to carry a global annual cost of up to $10.5 trillion by 2025. Now more than ever, it’s critical for future-thinking companies to invest in document protection services. With global teams a new norm and remote work here to stay, a properly protected electronic documentation procedure is an essential upgrade and is more secure than traditional post office or courier distribution. 

Your digital security is only as strong as your weakest link. Here are some tips on securing your electronic documents against present and future cyber threats.

18 Electronic Document Security Tips

1. Backup your documents

The most basic and common practice in information security is creating backups of all important documents and files. Keep these backups in a secure location, and protect them under the same provisions as the original files.

2. Track revisions to have a digital paper trail

Maintaining a record of revisions, including who made them and when, provides an extra layer of clarity, transparency, and security.

3. Digitize and automate previously paper-based, manual processes  

Preserve original files in an unalterable format—PDFs are the standard format for scanned documents. Digitizing and automating documents will give you control over accessibility while improving overall efficiency.

4. Invest in IT and resources to ensure cybersecurity 

There are a variety of cybersecurity tools to invest in—network intrusion detection, antivirus software, and encryption tools, to name a few.

5. Grant document access with custom permissions 

Customizing your document access provides greater oversight while preventing cybersecurity threats like digital signature fraud. 

6. Protect document accessibility with a need-to-know basis policy

Similar to how the military has different levels of clearance, your documents should be stored and accessed on a need-to-know basis: allow access to sensitive information only to those who need it, and only for as long as they need it. 

7. Integrate document redactions 

Similar to how attorneys often need to edit documents to protect attorney-client privilege retroactively, companies will likely need to do the same to protect theirs, their employees’, and their partners’ interests. 

8. Synchronize files by utilizing an integration tool 

Solving formatting issues, structuring accessibility, and improving efficiency are just a few of the security advantages of integrated software tools. 

9. Organize documents by security risk 

As you can imagine, the more sensitive the information, the greater the risk. Plan around this by organizing documents responding to security risk and data vulnerability

10. Ensure that hidden metadata doesn’t accidentally become visible 

Metadata is the hidden information stored within a file that can become accidentally accessible when a file is converted improperly or when files become corrupted. Prevent metadata breaches by eliminating metadata in your documents before storing them electronically.

11. Educate team on the latest cybersecurity threats

Does your team know the difference between digital signatures vs. electronic signatures? This topic is just one of an increasingly long list of digital security discussions that could provide your teams with a comprehensive understanding of your document security protocol.  

12. Establish a procedure for the destruction of documents

Did you know that deletion and destruction are not the same? Forensic recovery software can restore deleted files, meaning you need a procedure to ensure hard drives are scrubbed, and data is not recoverable. 

13. Invest in mobile security measures 

For that reason, mobile data can be especially vulnerable and targeted—establish a mobile security framework to protect information shared via mobile devices.

14.  Prioritize internal security to prevent insider leakage 

Since most security threats to an organization are from internal mishandling or manipulation, it’s vital to secure documents from internal threats. Malicious employees may want access to customer bank information, or innocent employees may even inadvertently delete or share sensitive materials. 

15. Test to reveal security vulnerabilities

You should regularly test how easy it is for internal team members and the public to access your sensitive electronic documents. This provides critical information on system vulnerabilities that need to be remedied. 

16. Scrub hard drives to make sure that the data is truly deleted 

The US Army estimates that up to 90% of all intelligence retrieved by enemy parties comes from open sources (i.e., websites), interception of mobile device communications, and files thrown in trash bins. Learn from their measures and ensure your hard drives are truly scrubbed of all sensitive materials at the end of their usable life cycle. 

17. Don’t store sensitive information any longer than you need it

Keeping documents safe and secure is one thing—discarding them is another. Record retention schedules help ensure that documents are available when and where you need them and can be destroyed at the end of their useful life cycle. 

18. Protect your document files from natural disasters

Not all security threats are malicious. Flood, fires, other natural disasters, and even unnatural disasters (think “9/11”) are threats to companies of any size. Develop a backup plan to store files in an alternative location if necessary.

How Notarize practices electronic document security

Notarize is the industry leader in remote online notarization. With multi-factor authentication, encrypted two-way notary sessions with video recording, and meticulous record-keeping of all transaction files, the Notarize platform is the solution for businesses that want to save time and money while providing a superior customer experience.

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