Top five tips for protecting customer documents

Being able to customise operational and marketing communications down to the most personal level means that correspondence between a business and its customers should always be treated as private and confidential. But moving customer documents from paper to digital introduces security challenges around electronically storing, processing and sharing customer correspondence.

Businesses have to make customer documents available through multiple self-service channels, such as email, web, and mobile apps, as well as facilitate access for employees providing support services, all of which create numerous opportunities for security breaches.

The demand for anytime, anywhere access may be customer driven but digital transformation is highly beneficial for a business seeking to reduce expenses by suppressing costly paper processes and thankfully, if implemented correctly, digital document management solutions offer significantly more security than their analogue predecessors.

Experts from Striata, a global paperless communications specialist, have shared their top five tips for protecting customer documents.

(1) Secure documents at all points

As you digitise your document management processes, ensure that documents are protected at all points in the digital journey, whether stored on your systems, travelling via the Internet or sitting on the customer’s own computer. This can be achieved using a combination of various encryption applications, password protection, network security and access control.

(2) Use multiple layers of protection

One or two layers of protection in today’s digital world are simply not enough. Consider implementing additional security that encrypts and protects each individual customer document even when it resides on a secure network. This also ensures that when travelling on the internet, the information cannot be compromised if intercepted or sent to the wrong recipient.  

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(3) Provide ongoing employee education

The easiest way for hackers to gain access to a repository of confidential documents is by tricking or compromising an employee. Be sure that all employees understand and adhere to the organisation’s security guidelines when it comes to accessing and sharing customer documents. Educate everyone about not clicking on links or opening documents from an unknown source as this a common method used to install malicious software that effectively puts the hackers inside your network.

(4) Help customers secure their documents

Make it company policy never to send unprotected documents containing confidential information. By distributing only encrypted and protected files, business can assist consumers to safeguard their information even when it resides on their own computer. An emailed or downloaded document gets saved automatically on certain devices and if unprotected, becomes vulnerable if the device is hacked.

(5) Enforce a strong password policy

In order to secure customer documents from all vulnerabilities, a strong password approach is essential. Whether it’s the password that your employee uses to access internal systems, or the one the customer uses to login to your company portal, or even the password on an individual document – if the password is weak, the entire security approach is weakened. Educate both employees and customers on the value of using only strong passwords, and the risks of using easily cracked passwords such as “123456”, “abc123” or “password”.

What is needed, but is still often lacking, is a strategic approach to mitigating cyber crime risks. Finance professionals should thus play a leading role in defining certain key areas of such an approach.

Mike Wright is the CEO of Striata.

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