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The Importance of Information Security in Document Management

In the digital age, information security must be a priority for all companies seeking to protect sensitive data and customer trust.
Picture of Manuel Aguirre

Manuel Aguirre

Document management is a fundamental pillar in the operation of any organization. One of the most critical aspects of document management is information security. In the digital era, the protection of data and sensitive information or documentation is essential. In this article, we will explore why information security in document management is crucial and we will present a comparative chart showing the significant differences between having or not an electronic document management system such as Athento implemented in terms of information security.

Why is Information Security important?

In today’s business environment, information is one of the most valuable assets. Data and documents contain knowledge, strategies, ownership titles, financial information and customer details, among others. The life of organizations is described in the content of their documents. At the same time, we find ourselves in times when cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated and users, as well as data, are increasingly exposed to it. High-profile cases of Ransomware, Data Breach or Data leaks are splashed across the media every few months.

Information security has become a critical need, and understanding its importance is essential.

An insecure information system can affect organizations in several ways, for example:

Economic impact of disclosure of confidential information

Confidential information is a key component of many companies’ operations. This can include strategic plans, business agreements, proprietary formulas and designs, confidential financial data and other sensitive information. Lack of security could result in damaging information leaks, which could lead to unauthorized competition, loss of business advantage or even theft of intellectual property. For many companies, maintaining the confidentiality of their data is critical to their success and competitiveness.

In addition, a Data Leak event can have financial consequences related to lawsuits. If the exposed information belongs to customers, they could take legal action and require compensation.

Regulatory compliance and fines

For many companies, there are strict regulations on how data must be handled and protected. These regulations are often imposed by government agencies and are enforced to protect user privacy, financial security, and other critical aspects of business operations. Failure to comply can lead to significant financial and legal penalties, which can be damaging to the company and its reputation. In addition, penalties can be accompanied by the loss of customers and public confidence in the company.

Corporate Reputation

Reputation is a valuable asset for any company. A security breach can seriously damage a company’s reputation. When customers and business partners discover that their data or confidential information has been compromised due to a security breach, they may lose confidence in the company. Loss of customer confidence can have long-term effects, ranging from loss of revenue from existing customers to difficulty acquiring new customers. In addition, the bad publicity associated with a security breach can be detrimental to the company’s image and market position.

Business Continuity

The loss of critical data can affect business continuity. Recovery of lost data can be costly and time-consuming. In cases of Ransomware, the hijacked data may be required for normal business operations, leaving the company completely forced to pay bounties.

In addition, the downtime resulting from a loss of data can have a significant financial impact on the company. Disruption to operations can lead to lost revenue, reputational damage and loss of customers. Therefore, information security is not just a compliance or privacy consideration, but an integral part of ensuring that a business can continue to operate smoothly under any circumstances.

Traditional vs. Electronic Document Management

To fully understand the importance of information security in document management, it is vital to compare traditional and digital approaches. Let’s start with traditional approaches:

Traditional approach

Physical Document Management

Physical document management involves handling documents in physical format, such as paper. Although this approach has been widely used for decades, it presents significant challenges in terms of information security. The following are some of them.

  • Physical Document Access: In a traditional document management environment, physical documents are stored in folders, filing cabinets and shelves. This means that anyone who has physical access to these areas can potentially access the documents, which increases the risk of loss and theft.
  • Difficult to Track: It is difficult to track who has accessed physical documents and what changes have been made to them. There are no electronic activity logs to provide an audit trail of who accessed a document or when a change was made.
  • Lack of Effective Control and Security: Security in traditional document management relies on physical measures, such as locks and keys. These measures are susceptible to failure and can be vulnerable to document loss or theft.
  • Complex Compliance: Complying with regulations can be complicated in a traditional document management environment. Lack of adequate access controls and effective security measures can make compliance a challenge.

 

File systems for storing business information

This is a common scenario today. The rise of the Internet and systems inevitably leads companies to have some form of digital storage. The quickest and most common is to opt for a folder system on a shared server or on individual computers. A file system, however, has multiple limitations:

  • Limitations in defining document management policies: controlling the classification and organization of information in a file system is a challenge. Duplications, problems in the naming or location of a digital document are frequent. Users can also distort the original structure given to the documentation. Growth control can also be a challenge.
  • Difficulties in searching and mining data: the lack of metadata or information to describe documents prevents more accurate searches. Obtaining data from documents is almost impossible in this model.
  • Access control is difficult to maintain: controlling who has access to which documents can be difficult to maintain and track over time, especially in large organizations. At the audit level, it is difficult to know what has happened to a specific document.
  • Multiple vulnerabilities: for example, viruses or the fact that critical information can be deleted and cannot be recovered.
  • Disorganized growth: not only because duplications occur, but also because it is complex to define retention policies in a file system. The information simply grows and grows, without us having access to it.

Electronic Document Management

Digital document management, on the other hand, uses systems and software to manage documents in electronic format, offering diverse functionality for classifying, organizing, sharing and approving documents. This approach offers numerous advantages in terms of information security.

  • Controlled Digital Access: In electronic document management, access to documents is restricted and can be controlled with security measures such as passwords and encryption. Only authorized persons can access the information.
  • Exhaustive Auditing: Electronic document management systems can record and audit every access and modification. This provides a complete history of who accessed a document, when they accessed it and what changes they made, which is essential for security and compliance purposes.
  • Easier Compliance: Electronic document management systems often include specific features designed to comply with specific regulations. This facilitates regulatory compliance and required reporting.
  • Secure and Controlled Collaboration: Digital document collaboration is secure and controlled. Documents can be shared with authorized users, and it is possible to track who accesses and edits the document. This reduces the risks associated with collaboration and ensures that confidential information is kept secure.

Electronic document management offers a significant advantage in terms of information security compared to traditional document management. The transition to electronic systems not only improves security, but also simplifies management and compliance. Choosing the right electronic document management system is essential to ensure information security in the digital era.

Below is a comparative table that will allow us to understand which aspects of information security are predominant when having or not having an electronic management system implemented in our company:

Information Security Aspect
No Electronic Document Management System
Have an Electronic Document Management System
Unauthorized access
Physical documents can be stolen or viewed by unauthorized persons with relative ease.
Access to digital documents is restricted and can be controlled with security measures such as passwords and encryption.
Data backup
Lack of adequate backups can result in the permanent loss of documents in the event of disasters, fire or physical damage.
Digital documents can be regularly backed up and securely stored in multiple locations, minimizing the risk of loss.
Follow-up and audit
It is difficult to track who has accessed physical documents and what changes have been made.
Electronic document management systems can log and audit every access and modification, providing a complete history.
Regulatory compliance
Complying with regulations can be complicated without a system that ensures document control and security.
Electronic document management systems often include specific features to comply with regulations, simplifying the process.
Secure collaboration
Collaboration on physical documents can be risky, as documents can be lost or shared with the wrong people.
Collaboration on digital documents is secure and controlled, reducing the risks associated with collaboration.

In short, information security in document management is essential to protect sensitive data, comply with regulations and maintain customer confidence. An electronic document management system such as Athento offers numerous advantages in terms of security compared to physical document management. Implementing an electronic system not only improves security, but also simplifies management and compliance. In the digital era, information security must be a priority for all companies seeking to protect their most valuable assets: their data and documents. Secure document management is an essential component of any effective business strategy.