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Basics Of Document Security For Manufacturing Professionals

By Adi Ruppin, Vice President of Marketing, ConfidelaYou share valuable and sensitive documents with contractors, suppliers and manufacturing partners. How can you be sure that your product designs and intellectual property are safe?

In the manufacturing industry, you spend countless hours and resources to create new product designs, specs and other intellectual property. Your entire body of work is now contained in just a few documents, whether they are PDF documents, Word files, Excel sheets or PowerPoint presentations, making it crucial they are not lost. Most of these documents are of a highly sensitive nature, and your company's competitiveness and market position may depend on these documents being kept within controlled audiences.

Where this becomes even more challenging is that in order to be productive and to be able to do your work effectively, these valuable and sensitive documents must be shared with others, such as contractors and manufacturing partners across the world, suppliers of different components, as well as channel partners, customers and even your own sales force. These documents need to be kept safe at all times -- at rest (when they are stored) and in transit (when shared with others).

Wouldn't it be beneficial if you could still keep full control over these documents after they are shared? Be able to revoke them? Update them? Prevent them from being printed or forwarded? Unfortunately, one comprehensive tool does not exist to complete all tasks. Let's review several applications that together can provide you with a comprehensive solution.

Protection ‘at rest’

First, security experts highly recommended that you use an anti-virus and a firewall application. Today, such applications are often bundled together with a bunch of useful security services, such as anti-spyware, and provide comprehensive protection from outside threats. Make sure your software is current, or it might not protect you against the latest threats. Be sure to check out the free solutions that are now available.

Another important consideration is to remember to perform regular backups. Currently, there is no need for painstaking manual chores such as burning CDs and DVDs. Online backup has become simple, automatic and affordable, and can solve your storage and recovery problems. Increasingly, online backup is offered with firewall and anti-virus security suites, as well. If you have it, make sure you activate it. Otherwise, you can sign up with any number of online backup services. If you don't use it, you will be sorry -- it is only a matter of time.

Anti-theft measures are key for the majority of those using laptops. According to the Ponemon Institute, 92 percent of IT managers reported a laptop stolen or lost and more than 71 percent of these thefts resulted in security breaches. The solution is either full hard-drive encryption software or an online anti-theft service that can attempt to trace your lost computer and remotely wipe it if needed.

Last but not least, data leakage prevention (DLP) solutions may be put in place to prevent accidental or intentional leakage of sensitive information. A study by the FBI and the Computer Security Institute (CSI), found employee inside abuses (accidental or intentional) accounted for 50 percent of all security breaches. A Ponemon Institute survey revealed that 69 percent of all serious data leaks occur as a result of employee activities, costing $6.3 million on average. Out of these leaks, 39 percent involved confidential business information, 27 percent involved personal customer information and 14 percent involved the company’s intellectual property.

Protection ‘in transit’

If you are sending sensitive information via e-mail, a third party might be able to eavesdrop and intercept these e-mails if they are sent unencrypted. Data leakage can also happen in error. Almost everyone at one point or another has sent an e-mail to the wrong person by accident, and this can get highly embarrassing. According to a survey by Sophos, 50 percent of employees surveyed admitted to accidentally sending a sensitive or embarrassing e-mail to the wrong person. Clearly, either e-mail encryption or a secured collaboration environment is needed.

Maintaining control in the aftermath

The last piece of the puzzle is keeping control over your important or sensitive documents at all times, and making sure they do not end up in your competitor's hands as soon as you send them.

Gartner states that 84 percent of data loss involves authorized parties distributing content externally. Intentionally or unintentionally, the "arrival" of confidential documents to the wrong hands can have devastating effects on a marketing campaign, and on the overall business itself.

Whether it is a quote or price list for a customer, or a presentation going to a channel partner, there are new tools available today to restrict the recipients' ability to view, print, copy or forward these documents, even after you send them. Such tools also allow you to revoke permissions to a document, put watermarks on it, and track who views, giving you peace of mind, while allowing you to collaborate and get your work done.

For manufacturers, it is highly recommended that you implement the full arsenal. It will make you more productive since you will have less downtime as a result of security breaches and data loss, as well as enable your organization to easily and securely share data across your company and the world.

Confidela’s WatchDox provides a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution designed to allow the confidential sharing of important or sensitive documents. For more information visit