Electronic documents take up less physical space and are easier to share. These attributes are certainly beneficial, but they could also be problematic. For example, in the case of sensitive or private documents, the ease of sharing could cause documents to end up in the wrong hands.
So, you need to ensure that your documents are not accessed by unauthorized users, and that you retain full control over their use at all times. Else the consequences could be severe. Below we discuss how you can securely share your documents and control their use.
During the document creation process, various people might need to add their inputs to an incomplete document. So, they not only need access to the document, but also some rights to edit the content. But, vigilance is required here more than anywhere else. It is the administrator’s responsibility to ensure that he or she sends the right document to the right person. It is also wise to ensure that whatever input a person adds is documented as that person’s own. This will provide accountability later on in the process.However, you also need to make sure that content cannot be deleted or easily shared. But that is the problem with collaboration – if you let someone edit a document then they generally have full control over it including the ability to copy and paste content into another document.So you need to make sure that if you enable document collaboration that you trust the parties involved not to share content outside of the group.
Once you have encrypted a file, even if a third-party receives it they can do nothing without the decryption key. As such, encryption is the first step to ensuring that your documents do not fall into the wrong hands by preventing unauthorized access.
However, the one mistake people make regarding this method is believing that authorized users are to be trusted. This is not always the case. Once users have the decryption keysthey are then at liberty to do with the documents what they want. This includes copying, pasting, sharing the unprotected copy, modifying content, and even removing the encryption. However, encryption does serve a huge purpose in the next step of the security process.
Encryption is a one-off all-or-nothing control; DRM is the exact opposite. With DRM, you get continuing control over all the documents you share. This means that you can control what users can do with a document (print it, take a screenshot, etc.) and keep a watchful eye over what authorized users do with your documents once they have received them. It is worth noting that DRM systems do use encryptionto prevent unauthorized access. The difference is that the decryption key is relayed secretly to the authorized user’s device and locked to that device. So, the user is unaware of what it is and it will not work if shared with others.
Also, the continuing control offered by document DRMsystems include deciding for how long a particular individual has access to a document. For example, access can be granted indefinitely or only for a short period. Document DRM systems also provide controls over printing – either stopping or allowing printing and controlling how many times a user can print a document. In addition, when printing is allowed, additional controls, such as dynamic watermarks showing user and system information, can be included to discourage sharing of the printed versions. Finally, screen grabbers are especially problematic. So, good document DRM systems ensure no screenshots can be taken by system tools stopping high quality screenshots from being easily taken and shared.
The administrator imposes these settings as well as a few other controls which means that you can be sure that your files will remain safe regardless of who they have been sent to.
There may be times when documents have been distributed but they are no longer valid. Or a user has the left the company and should no longer have access to confidential company information. With a document DRM system you can instantly revoke documents or a user’s access to individual or all documents.
The digital age is slowly phasing out paper documents and we have to make the best of using electronic documents. But this is not without its problems, the biggest of which is that they can be easily shared. So you need to apply protection to your documents to prevent unauthorized access and use. The additional precautions may seem bothersome, but they are a worthy endeavor as can be attested to by those who have experienced document theft. After all, the information in certain documents could be priceless. So, it is best to invest in their protection by ensuring you can control how your documents are used and by whom.