Prioritising information security during digital transformation

By Jamie Atherton, Country Manager ANZ, Hyland

Credit: ID 95985107 © Wilkat | Dreamstime.com

Security is on everyone’s mind these days – especially when it comes to organisations that use technology as a main component of their service offering. Growing pressure from consumer expectations is driving many companies to transform and provide customers and members with the fast, digitally-enabled processes they desire. However, along with this new technology, today’s consumers also want reassurance that their information is safe from hackers and other security threats.

Digital transformation is also a time to take stock of the organisation’s existing platforms, information flows and storage, and evaluate ways to make them work better while toughening up protections around that vital data.
There are many steps an organisation needs to take in order to improve information security and compliance. Successful change will need to combine the right mix of content services in such a way that improves security, while also evaluating and transforming the various processes that produce the information and the manner in which it is used throughout the organisation.

Capturing information securely

Many of the features required to improve information security and compliance are available in a document management solution – foundational systems within content services – that empower organisations to ingest, store and access information seamlessly.

The best of these solutions include intelligent capture, an especially powerful tool that enables automated data classification during capture, allowing an organisation to apply security, access and retention policies to documents at the same time as that data enters the organisation.

Version control ensures that the right version of a document is processed or produced during eDiscovery, which can be critical to secure data processing. This also has down-stream benefits for corporate security and governance, such as ensuring that up-to-date policies are applied, and that the most recent and correct version of a document is available for processes such as auditing and reports to the board.

Records and retention management, another core function of a content services platform, automates the process of preparing documents for status as official digital records by placing holds and performing retention tasks such as automatic deletion or archival, which reduce exposure in case of a breach.

Automated data classification during capture is another step in this process, allowing organisations to automatically apply security, access and retention policies to documents as they are created or at any time in the document’s lifecycle. 

Data masking and redaction enables automated masking of private or confidential information in documents based on business rules. These should be applied by any department that holds sensitive data, whether that pertains to customers, employees or company finances. Keeping sensitive data hidden reduces the threat of both internal and external attacks – data is much harder to find in the case of a remote cyber attack, and is masked from internal employees who may look to exploit it for personal gain or acting out a grudge against the company. 

Keeping unstructured data out of risky systems

There has been an explosion of unstructured data in recent years. This may take the form of multimedia files, audio, images and presentations and web pages. This proliferation generally results in important information being dispersed across the enterprise and often leads to unstructured data files existing in many disparate systems and applications.  This makes the data harder to access, harder to search and ultimately less productive. It also means that the data is exposed to higher risk, as it is less likely to fall into proper governance and security plans.

When sensitive information ends up in unintended places like file shares, email attachments and cloud storage, it creates significant security and compliance risks for an organisation. Therefore, it is imperative that the evolving organisation looks for a solution that has the following attributes for keeping track of unstructured data:

Federated search
• Enables monitoring across any number of systems, sites, applications, repositories, devices and hundreds of file formats.
Robust querying
• Detects keywords, phrases and character patterns in files, attachments and metadata.
Automated search queries
• Generates alerts when the system detects violations.
A flexible rules engine
• Supports multiple departments and different compliance requirements.
Secure collaboration
• Financial institutions often need to share information with internal and external parties. However, without the right enterprise security features, this information can be vulnerable.

Read more: ​There are no hackers - there are only spies

Email can be an especially risky area for certain organisations in industries such as mortgage broking, investors, construction companies and financial institutions, who need to pass on and receive high volumes of financial documentation. Using personal and unsecured email accounts to exchange documents and financial information is extremely risky, with many such organisations sustaining frequent attempts to hack email accounts and phish for financial information.

A content services platform that offers email client integration provides a secure way to send and receive files – protecting both parties. The best solution for avoiding email attacks is to use an enterprise-grade secure file sharing solution, one that includes the following features:

Robust access controls
• Allows the use of corporate user accounts, SSO integration and easy transfer and revocation of access.
Data encryption and extensive data centre security 
• Protects critical content and information with encryption while at rest and in transit.
Compliance 
• Minimises compliance risks with data protection and location requirements.
Automated sharing
• Reduces errors and the risk of accidental exposure.

Minimising information touchpoints is another key area that can lead to better data governance in transforming organisations. Whenever a document or file needs to be ‘touched’ by an employee – when it needs to be opened, passed on, altered in some way, whether physically or virtually – it is considered an information touchpoint, and at that moment it is exposed to the highest level of risk. Automation and system integration are key for streamlining processes right across the enterprise, and as such they can reduce human interaction with files, which in turn reduces risk. Fewer touchpoints equals less chance of exposure to cyber attack and has the added benefit of speeding up processes.

Workflow automation, robotic process automation and system integration reduces the need for human touches, improving the speed and accuracy of a file’s journey through the organisation by automating the flow of information and allowing systems to share information on an ‘as-needed’ basis, with strong rules set to govern each transaction.                                                                                    

Vulnerabilities are also often found in outdated platforms and applications, so system consolidation is required for removing those threats. Information that is stored in or actioned via redundant or outdated systems are not only slowing down the company’s information management environment, but are also adding unnecessary touchpoints. 

A content services solution can provide case management tools which standardise data handling processes and provide both visibility and accountability. Each information transaction can be monitored or audited, which makes staff members – and the broader content services solution – accountable for any use of that information.
Lastly, a content services solution helps with security during an organisation’s digital transformation by ensuring that security policies and workflows are automatically distributed, and tracks the acknowledgement of security and compliance policies as they are applied throughout the organisation. This solidifies the company’s governance of its security plan and also helps to prove due diligence during litigation or audits. 

Security needs to be top of mind at all stages of an organisation’s development, but making large organisational changes exposes information to higher levels of risk, at least temporarily. Cultural upheaval also offers an opportunity to cement better procedures across the entire company, and put in place structures and practices that lead to better and safer use of company information. Therefore, improving governance and security of information must be considered an absolute priority for a successful digital transformation, and one that will equip the company for a strong, digitally-rich future. Choosing a content services platform that includes these security features is therefore imperative. 

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