Challenges of Securing Sensitive Documents
SecureTaxData solves the complex problems of securing sensitive data transmissions.
Email is critical for communication between business professionals today. As government regulations and intellectual property threats have increased, email compliance is a top priority. Sensitive patient records and customer data are hard to manage. Sharing them through email multiplies the challenge to achieve email compliance. Intellectual property can be emailed from desktops and mobile devices without any internal controls. The result is scattered information across email servers and numerous locally duplicated, outdated files. In this environment, how can you ensure email compliance?
Most business users have the right intentions and want to follow email compliance policies. However, email size, file type restrictions, or virus isolation often encourage the opposite behavior. Sending these large files by email is limited or impossible. Messages bounce back into email inboxes and database files are quarantined. Users are forced to use FTP, CD, DVD and USB drives without any security or face missed deadlines and lost revenue. Your goal is balancing email compliance with non-stop business communication.
The role of email is also critical in defending against lawsuits. Federal regulation mandates the discovery of both electronic and physical files. Email compliance requires effective search and efficient retrieval of electronic messages and files.
To assure email compliance, outbound content filtering gateways or quarantines are frequently deployed. The heavy workload of manually inspecting false positives can easily overwhelm even the most prepared email administrators. Other IT managers try email encryption keys and implement key management servers. While this may appear to enable email compliance, tackling the complexity that comes with day-to-day maintenance can be grueling. Too often, users are the ones who suffer from this lack of ease-of-use. And still, many organizations restrict email use to just inside the network to enforce email compliance. Such policies leave it up to users to figure out the best way to communicate to the outside. As news headlines show, this practice dramatically increases information risk.
Information Leak Prevention
Unauthorized access and release of information is both alarming and disarming. Sensitive records exposed to the public or product plans leaked to competitors cannot be recovered. Information leak prevention is being demanded by your board of directors and executive management team. Meanwhile, your business is growing more reliant on electronic communication every day. The result is more intellectual property and sensitive information being transmitted and managed in silos across your network.
Information leak prevention seems like an especially daunting task when human error is considered. Using FTP to share clinical research data or email to negotiate sales contracts is common. Yet, users often do not recognize the danger that just one click can create. For example, email size or file type restrictions drive unauthorized use of FTP, CD, DVD and USB drives. Also, malicious employees present a significant, invisible threat. Irreversible harm can be done to your business’ reputation, customer satisfaction, financial results and competitive advantage. Highly regulated businesses also face costly penalties for non-compliance. Failing to implement internal controls that prevent the leakage of sensitive information is an issue of corporate governance.
Outbound content filtering gateways are frequently used to address the need for information leak prevention. However, manually inspecting quarantines and sifting through false positives quickly overwhelms IT administrators. To prevent information leakage through email, encryption keys and key management servers are deployed. The complexity that comes with day-to-day maintenance can be crippling for IT departments. Then, there are the users. They end up struggling to use cumbersome tools and often resort to risky approaches when they’re up against a deadline and need to get contracts signed by noon. You are challenged with information leak prevention while ensuring business information flows freely to those who need it.
File Transfer and Tracking
How business users transfer files over internet connections can have a significant impact on operations, corporate governance and compliance. Any delays in sending or receiving information can mean failed patent applications, price fluctuations and inaccurate product specifications. When users transfer files over internet connections, maximum security and tracking of intellectual property and sensitive records is crucial.
Many businesses use e-mail to transfer files over internet lines and with internal users. How can you secure file transfers and put an end to email recipients saying that they “didn’t get it”? Your users apply both “Delivery Receipt” and “Read Receipt” on emails, but email recipients can reject them. Users who transfer files over internet connections face severe limitation on file types. At the same time, your storage policy places restrictions on file and email inbox sizes. As a result, users waste time reformatting or shrinking files.
FTP is widely used in enterprises as well. It's a primary way to transfer files over internet lines. However, FTP lacks monitoring, security and internal controls. Files are lost or deleted improperly from FTP servers with no way to track their whereabouts. In defending against lawsuits, incomplete electronic discovery is creating compliance risk.
Typical IT environments include email and FTP servers to transfer files over internet connections. Unfortunately, email and FTP servers cannot understand the difference between critical and routine information. Also, both email and FTP servers contain insufficient security by themselves. Still, you are challenged with aligning IT to business goals and creating shareholder value. To address this issue and prevent information leaks, you could deploy email encryption and content filtering. The caveat is burdensome complexity: managing the mix of disparate tools requires multiple skill-sets and additional time. Meanwhile, you’re at full team capacity. Also, more support calls are coming in from users who complain that it’s too hard to transfer files over internet lines. They resort to unauthorized use of CD, DVD, USB drives or paper to get their jobs done. In this environment, transferring files efficiently and tracking file transfers becomes almost impossible.
File Storage and Retrieval
The amount of digital files being stored has reached an unprecedented level. This growth is forcing you to increase your storage capacity for active content and archived files at a rapid pace. Painfully, you’re discovering that your storage infrastructure has succumbed to waste. Mixed in with sensitive information and intellectual property, you find routine emails, personal documents and duplicate information taking up valuable space. File storage cost and optimization is keeping you up at night. And yet, you’re expected to invest in strategic projects to drive business goals and shareholder value.
Meanwhile, retrieving critical information in the sea of electronic communications is not easy. Files are managed in scattered storage silos across the network by workgroups or departments. Often, manual browsing beats out sophisticated search tools provided by email applications and operating systems. Also, it can take too much time to access and retrieve information from archives, with many archives being completely unsearchable. Time is wasted and user productivity suffers. Customer requests are not addressed on time, product time to market is lagging, contract negotiations drag on and departmental collaboration is inconsistent.
To add to these issues, government regulation is requiring discovery of physical and electronic information for legal defense. Ineffective file storage and retrieval increases risk of non-compliance and expensive fines.
Typical email and file storage systems cannot understand the difference between critical and routine information. And you are challenged with optimizing storage resources. Your disaster recovery plan may be under development or another revision. How file storage and retrieval will be affected remains unclear. You want to get rid of waste, archive files more efficiently and ensure availability of business-critical information.
Content management systems can make classifying and searching information easier. But in reality information is flowing from desktop to desktop and is disorganized—even with a robust content management system in place. How do you get control of this traffic and manage associated storage proactively? Worse yet, departments have amassed collections of content management systems and file storage servers based on their different preferences. The resulting complexity increases IT overhead and user support.
File Access and Control
Your workforce is increasingly mobile and diverse. Suppliers, distributors and partners are located all across the world. Business communication is more reliant on digital networks than ever before. Yet, IT has to secure intellectual property and sensitive information between internal and external users. How can you grant users the right level of access to the information they need when they need it? And how will you know when to remove access to the information or change user roles?
Strengthening controls on how information is accessed is on your short-list of issues to address this year. But effective access control is not only a technology challenge, but also a policy enforcement challenge. You have no way to monitor the flow of information in real-time to audit policy compliance. Lacking enforcement of corporate and compliance policies, your firm can be subject to corporate communication leaks to the press and embarrassing disclosures.
Making users accountable for how they use and distribute information is becoming a regular boardroom discussion at your firm. Good corporate governance calls for tracking file access and activity. While you have many applications that generate user access logs, you have no central place to go for file-level access logs.
Many IT managers try data-level encryption and implement key management servers. While this may help relieve much of the pain in managing file access, once access is granted, you have no way to disable it. Your access control challenges remain. Content management systems can make tracking access to information easier. On the other hand, information is flowing from desktop to desktop in email and instant messages. How can you secure and manage access to that information without frustrating users and making your job harder?