Methods of protecting documents and data

Dec 29, 2011 10:41:27 AM

Encryption and other types of document protection are extremely important for companies that deal with sensitive materials. This can be because the data contained therein is very valuable and would be less so if it fell into the hands of other organizations. Conversely, the information might be protected by laws that guard the privacy of consumers, patients and clients.

Consequently, companies need to make sure that they thoroughly investigate the ways that they protect documents. The legal, healthcare and pharmaceutical industry are particularly susceptible to information leakages and simply can't afford (either through lost business or government fines) to let their information go beyond the physical and digital boundaries of their businesses.

However, there are many different ways to protect documents. Some are made accessible in every way simply by giving a password, while other have differing levels of usability. There are many hybrid options in between, so organizations need to carefully decide how they're going to protect their sensitive information.

Opening files
It is a good idea to choose a method of encryption or obfuscation that offers an "all or nothing" approach. This means that without a correct password or appropriate decryption program, a file can't even be opened. However, once opened it can be changed, edited, copied, pasted or manipulated in any way that an employee sees fit.

Modification
Some programs allow documents to be copied and later modified, but the original can't be saved over. This will preserve the original content or data that was sent while allowing staff members to make changes for their own particular uses.

Read only
Lengthy legal documents or scientific papers might need to be read or referenced by employees, but it can also be important to keep them in their original forms no matter what. Setting a document to read only will ensure that this remains the case.

Partial modification
Some collections of data, such as spreadsheets, might have important information contained within them. It is possible to have certain cells or equations able to be changed while keeping the remainder set in stone. This is helpful when variables in calculations change but the original data sets need to be preserved at all costs.

 

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