Maintaining company confidentiality through collaborative working

Emma Wilkinson

May 15, 2012

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Today’s fragmented workforce means document creation and distribution is a core activity for the majority of businesses, with workers frequently collaborating on and exchanging documents with colleagues, suppliers, partners, agencies, and customers remotely. This increasingly collaborative way of working means that business productivity and document security can be compromised.

This trend is exacerbated by the consumerisation of IT, where employees are increasingly using their favourite mobile devices for corporate data and applications regardless of the security perils. With confidential information being regularly exchanged outside of the corporate firewall, there is an increased risk that this may fall into the wrong hands.

It’s therefore more important than ever that businesses are equipped with collaboration tools which not only increase efficiency through the document review, creation and distribution process, but also enable workers to protect confidential information, achieve cost savings and ultimately grow the bottom line.

Given how many mobile devices are lost or stolen, it’s no surprise companies’ data is at risk. In the UK recently, we have seen high profile data losses endangering not only a company’s intellectual property, but its reputation as well. It is the IT department’s role to proactively protect data and know who in the business is responsible for identifying and classifying sensitive information. That means knowing where it resides, who has access to it and in what way it is coming in or leaving the organisation.

This presents a big challenge to IT professionals but here are some top tips from Adobe that can help navigate this minefield:

  • Apply passwords and usage restrictions to documents: It’s important that employees protect documents with strong passwords or digital signatures, that way, if the documents fall into the wrong hands company information will stay confidential. It’s also a good idea to set usage restrictions to documents so people can’t print or extract information from important files.
  • Educate employees: It is critical that employees not only understand the security measures your company takes, but understands how to use the software that protects them. Training and refresher sessions should be made compulsory for all employees that use software. The key is to make the process as straightforward and understandable as possible so that best practice is second nature to each and every employee.
  • Regularly update software: To help keep your software up to date, ensure you receive regularly scheduled updates and patches from your provider. If you outsource your IT or work with a supplier, make sure that you’re regularly getting updates from them too – they should also be able to provide you with updates and new ways of managing your data. It will also give you an opportunity to brief them on any changes or new challenges you need to work around.
  • Back up work: Making back-up copies of data should be regular practice. This will need to be encrypted to ensure that no one can access the information.  Again, not only should this be part of the company culture so every employee takes responsibility for securely backing up data, speak to your supplier or IT management company and they should be able to assist you with managing your data back-up.
  • Hide or remove sensitive information from documents: Redaction unfortunately normally hits the headlines when it’s done incorrectly, however when done properly, it’s an invaluable tool which lets you permanently remove (redact) visible text and images from PDFs. In place of the removed items, you will see redaction marks that appear as either colored boxes or blank spaces – it is here that you can specify custom text or redaction codes to appear over the redaction marks.

To see how Adobe and its partners can help businesses prepare, protect, and deliver professional communications click here.

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