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5 Ways to Ensure Confidential Documents Are Shared Securely

share confidential documents

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.  The importance of ensuring the secure sharing of confidential documents can’t be stressed enough.

When developing an application with SDKs or APIs or integrating new features into a workflow, developers 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.

The Risks of Document Sharing

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. 

When building applications with document sharing capabilities, developers need to think about the inherent risks that come along with allowing users access to upload and edit documents. Fortunately, there are a number of practical steps that developers can take to share sensitive documents securely without putting confidential information or mission-critical data at risk. 

5 Ways to Ensure Confidential Documents Are Shared Securely

1. Strengthen Application Security

Any conversation about document security needs to start with a focus on the application’s cybersecurity architecture. If document management software contains multiple vulnerabilities or doesn’t provide the necessary controls to safeguard data, it will be difficult to share sensitive documents securely. Here are a few best practices developers should have in place to create a secure application ecosystem: 

  • Perform threat-modeling any time there is a major design change in the application or ecosystem to identify potential new threats.
  • Encrypt customer sensitive documents both in transit and in storage. Ideally, the keys will be held by clients with an emergency access vault backup system, so that even the software developer cannot access any sensitive customer data. This way, even if an application or data centers are breached, customer documents will still be protected.
  • Spend more time testing 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.
  • Conduct periodic audits or external penetration testing to ensure that applications and customer data cannot be compromised.

2. Design Applications with Segregated Access

Secure documents and sensitive information should only be available to the people authorized to view or edit it. Access to one document should not allow someone to access other documents stored in the same application. By segregating access to data and assigning specific user permissions, developers can provide the tools customers need to manage their assets and share sensitive documents securely.

3. Eliminate External Viewing Dependencies

Although many organizations use secure applications to manage their document workflows, they frequently open themselves up to risk by relying on external software for document viewing. Without some way of sharing and viewing documents within the application itself, files will inevitably be shared over email and opened on local devices that may not have the latest security updates in place. Developers can avoid this problem by integrating HTML5 viewing capabilities into their application. This ensures that documents never have to leave a secure environment, even when they’re being shared with people outside an organization.

4. Create Unique Viewing Sessions

One of the challenges with many cloud-based document management systems is that once someone is granted access to a file, they typically retain that access until it is manually changed at a later date. In most instances, those privileges are also associated with the source file itself. This can create a number of security gaps if an organization doesn’t closely monitor access privileges. By implementing an HTML5 viewer that can generate unique viewing sessions for individual users, developers can provide more control over how to share confidential documents. Viewing sessions can be set to expire after use, and since the session is viewing a rendered version of the document instead of the source document itself, system administrators have more control over what aspects of it are shared. They may decide, for instance, to share only certain pages rather than the entire document.

5. Implement Redaction Capabilities

Redaction has long been used to protect private or confidential information in documents. Although organizations still frequently make embarrassing mistakes when it comes to redaction, it remains one of the most effective tools for anyone who needs to share sensitive documents securely. By integrating true redaction capabilities that not only obscure, but also completely remove sensitive information, developers provide applications that have the ability to screen documents for privacy risks before they’re shared with anyone. Performing redactions within the application environment also has the benefit of further limiting external dependencies that could threaten security.

Protect Confidential Documents with Accusoft Integrations

Accusoft’s collection of processing integrations give developers with a variety of document management tools for controlling privacy within their applications. The HTML5 capabilities of PrizmDoc Viewer offer powerful redaction tools and make it easier for administrators to control viewing access. 

To learn more about how Accusoft SDKs and APIs can provide the document management features you need to protect confidential information and privacy, visit our products page today or talk to one of our integration specialists.