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Prevent Security Risks When Sharing Sensitive Documents

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 8, 2010

Businesses must share documents—and often, sensitive documents—to be productive and to collaborate globally. There are many circumstances in which we need to share data; we need to provide specs and documentation to outsourcers across the world, collaborate with remote workers, work with partners, communicate with customers, or create shared repositories for mergers and acquisitions. The documents that we share may be quotes, financials, specs, competitive analysis, or customer presentations. Obviously, some of these documents may be highly sensitive. If these materials fall into the wrong hands, whether by accident or intent, the results could hurt the business.

Protecting shared documents is a complex problem. By definition, sharing is a hazardous operation, since we are allowing additional people access to information. We want the data to go out, but we need to limit the amount of exposure. This problem can’t be solved by the mere use of passwords, as many mistakenly believe. In addition to the technical deficiencies of such a system, passwords can be shared all too easily.

So what are the most popular options for preventing security risks?

• Secure e-mail. Stay away from public, un-encrypted e-mail (such as Gmail and Yahoo! Mail) when sharing sensitive materials.

• Digital rights management software can prevent documents from being accessed by unauthorized parties. DRM can be effective inside the corporate network, but can be difficult to install and manage externally.

• Data loss prevention solutions block certain documents from going out, but once documents are out, all control is relinquished.

• Virtual data rooms provide secure environments for sharing and collaboration.

• Document control and tracking solutions offer a means to easily send documents, while both encrypting them in transit and controlling them throughout their life cycle.

Moti Rafalin
CEO and Co-Founder
Mountain View, Calif.

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