Published: February 02, 2023
How to secure online documents
Security breaches and data leaks can harm or even destroy a company's brand. Here are some simple processes you can follow to keep your documents and sensitive information safe.
File sharing is an integral and unavoidable part of most of our lives. Whether you're signing a tenancy agreement, onboarding new clients or downloading a newsletter – it's easier than ever to share files with people you trust, and even those you don't.
Some of those files might be sensitive. Don't worry! You can protect them.
How to secure your files
Internal documents, financial records and any other documents containing personally identifiable information should all be kept safe. Here are the five things you should be doing to keep your documents protected:
1. Password protect important files
It's possible to encrypt a Word document, but a password-protected PDF is even more secure. Adobe Acrobat is the software best-known for its password protection tool, but for those who find it too expensive (at time of writing, it's $19.99 per month), there are free options: CleverPDF and PDFEncrypt are two examples.
2. Keep copies
Sometimes it's not cybercrime we need to fear; it's natural disasters. In the event your computer's hard drive is broken, whether it's via an act of God, a break-in, or just human error, you'll need backups of your files.
A cloud-based storage system like Google Drive, Dropbox or Lumin is ideal, because you're able to track who accessed your files and whether or not they were shared. However, if you're looking for a more physical option you can copy your files into another hard drive and store it in a second location.
3. Use eSignatures
Remember when you required a client's signature and had to print, scan and send a document; which they then had to print, sign and send back? There were so many opportunities for you sensitive information to be accessed via email or scattered as paper in the wing.
Thanks to eSignatures, you can now keep your documents in secure cloud-based servers and eSign them without downloading a thing.
4. Implement internal policies
Company-wide policies around file sharing is a great way to keep your security on the same page. Policies you could enact include:
- All sensitive documents need to be password-protected
- Former employees will have their file access revoked
- Backups must be made of important documentation
How to secure a PDF
There are hundreds of PDF services out there: Adobe Acrobat, Sejda, DocuSign, Lumin, the list goes on. We're sure you have no problem creating a PDF. But how do you keep them secure?
1. File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
FTP was one of the original ways for transferring data over networks, and it's still used today due to its efficiency and reliability. You'll need to use an FTP server, like Hostinger. The sender and receiver need server log-in details to access the files.
FTPs are particularly useful for large files, unusual file types, or legacy data.
2. Cloud storage
Cloud storage services are arguably the most common method of file sharing these days. You're probably already using one: Google Drive, Dropbox and Amazon Web Services are all examples. Simply upload your data to the service, and other users can download your PDFs to their own devices. Although users can decide what types of permission levels to place on the files, all data is hosted by a third-party source.
This one usually flies under the radar, but emails can be used for file sharing! Every time you attach a document to an email, you are transferring data over the internet.
Sending files through email providers is great for smaller files or those that require supplementary information.
4. Removable storage
Now we're getting old school. When a network-based transfer is not an option you can always rely on a good old USB, sometimes known as a flash drive. Hey, they're easier to use than a floppy disk, right? Simply copy data onto a USB, unplug then plug it into the destination computer.
Stay safe out there
If you haven't considered data and document security yet, now is the time. Clients are demanding it and it's critical to securing the integrity of your business. If hackers get access to you or your clients’ documents, your professional reputation could be impacted.
To try Lumin as a solution for your data protection needs, click here.