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5 Ways to Ensure Confidential Documents Are Shared Securely

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Data privacy continues to be a significant concern for businesses, employees, customers, and stakeholders alike. Privacy breaches can expose problems with document management and digital document security practices. They can also pose significant risks and costs to companies and stakeholders.

When developing your own application with SDKs or APIs or integrating a new SaaS solution into your workflow, you must be aware of the security risks. Project managers, security engineers, and architects must work in tandem to identify and address all potential security breaches. This holds especially true for commercially-confidential, highly-sensitive, or private documents while in transit.

Here are the ways that data breaches via file sharing can impact your business. In addition, there are five best practices that your company can implement to ensure that confidential documents are being shared securely with stakeholders.


The Impact of File Sharing on Your Business

Val Dobrushkin, Program Manager and Product Security Advocate at network and security giant Cisco, shared some best practices with us in a recent conversation.

According to Dobrushkin, when it comes to developing applications with document sharing capabilities, companies must recognize that inherent risks exist when allowing users access to upload and edit documents.

Document sharing, in general, can present opportunities for malicious actors to attempt to gain access to a competitor’s documents. It could also pave the way for uploading data containing malware accidentally.

Protecting the enterprise as a whole should be a priority to prevent loss or compromise of customer-sensitive information. This is vital because even minor damage to a company’s reputation can have a devastating impact.


Best Practices for Sharing Private Documents Securely

There are practical steps that companies can take to build or utilize more secure methods of sharing sensitive information with stakeholders of all types.

“Think of security as good design. You need to have a comprehensive understanding of all the components that make up your application ecosystem and continuously monitor their use and latest published vulnerabilities, from commercial and open-source software/hardware to in-house developed products,” says Dobrushkin.

When developing applications, these are five best practices that project teams should follow to enable more secure document sharing.

  1. Perform threat-modeling any time there is a major design change in your application or ecosystem so that you can identify new threats.
  2. Design your application with segregated access. Enable permissions for both customers and employees, so that sensitive information is only available to those who are supposed to see it. User permissions ensure that each stakeholder can only access the information they need to do their jobs. This access should also be removed once the job is complete, so that information is not floating around in the wrong hands.
  3. Encrypt customer sensitive documents both in transit and in storage. Ideally, the keys will be held by your clients with an emergency access vault backup system, so that even your employees cannot access any sensitive customer data. This way, even if your application or your data centers are breached, customer documents will still be protected.
  4. Spend more time testing your releases for weaknesses and allow security engineers and architects to weigh in on the product feature roadmap. Security patches and improvements should be given the same value as other new product features.
  5. Conduct periodic audits or external penetration testing to ensure that your applications and customer data cannot be compromised.

By following these five best practices, companies can ensure that confidential data stays confidential, both in storage and during transit.