Talking tech since 2003

Remember when running out of hard disk space and carrying flash drives everywhere was a thing? Cloud storage eventually became wildly popular and wiped out such niggles. Now you can share all kinds of files, including business documents, with anyone from just about anywhere.

But, are your documents secure in the cloud? And, once you start asking that question, more questions are bound to arise:

  • What kind of security measures does your cloud storage platform use?
  • Who are the security controls blocking out and how?
  • Can they only see what you share with them or can a security glitch inadvertently provide access to your proprietary documents to unauthorized people?

Do you really need document security in the cloud?

The basic thing about sharing documents stored in the cloud is that you’re sharing them with recipients who do not have access to your internal servers. So, if the stored document isn’t already secure, it could lead to potential misuse.

Most cloud storage apps lead recipients to a downloads page or let you share your files with a custom access link. The shared file can then be opened with an access key and these keys are usually no brainers, such as an identity field clubbed with a password or simply the email address of the recipient. Now, delinquent recipients can go a step further and share that key with people who can download a copy of your document, make some changes, and scatter them all over the internet (while even claiming ownership).

But, here’s the good news: This actually narrows down your options for securing your documents in the cloud. You need to restrict the amount of people with whom you share the documents and what they can do with the documents. That is, you must implement custom controls for saving, printing, and copying restrictions.

So, your best choice for protecting your documents in the cloud is to opt for a robust Digital Rights Management (DRM) system.

What does DRM offer for document security in the cloud?

An effective DRM system lets you manage who can access a document and how they can use it, before it’s uploaded to the cloud. In this way, your cloud storage provider’s security measures are an awesome add on and, if there’s ever a security breach on the cloud server, your document will still be protected.

An essential part of effective document protection is the generation and management of document keys which a reliable DRM system can handle on your behalf.

Another important aspect to consider is investing in a DRM viewer with custom access controls. So, opt for a viewer that lets you choose the same access controls you want to apply to your document. For instance, if you don’t want your document to be saved or printed (and have applied those controls through your DRM system), but your DRM viewer does not offers those functionalities, it would be a critical conflict and would render your restriction efforts useless.

Other than restricting access based on individual authorization and limiting what authorized users can do with the document, effective DRM systems also offer a range of other custom controls:

  • Determines document availability based on pre-set time periods.
  • Allows manual document access revocation.
  • Provides custom controls for document usage frequency based on views or prints.
  • Enables watermarks that get updated on the viewable copy as well as on printouts.
  • Restricts document access to specific locations (physical locations or IP addresses).

Business documents can also be grouped to manage access rights easily. For example, access controls may be different for monthly sales forecast documents, board papers or employee pay slips.

Overall, DRM is great for custom document security options compared to standard encryption methods. With a reliable DRM system, you can keep your documents safe, while taking advantage of flexible document sharing options on cloud storage platforms.

So, how do you protect your documents in the cloud? Let us know in the comments!

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