6 June, 2023

In regulated industries, such as healthcare & life sciences, finance, and legal services, document collaboration security is crucial to protect sensitive information and comply with industry and government regulations. These industries are particularly vulnerable, since collaboration – in-house and with third-party experts, often in remote locations – is the norm for life sciences product development, patient diagnostics and testing, case development, and a host of other essential activities. As a result, each organization must have a security-first ethos baked into its daily work routines.

Important Features of Secure Document Collaboration

Here are some important considerations for document collaboration security in regulated industries:

A Secure Collaboration Platform: Utilize a collaboration platform that prioritizes security and compliance. From a security point of view, the best first step is a virtual data room (VDR), which is an ultra-secure online platform for storing and sharing sensitive documents. Look for a platform that offers end-to-end document encryption, secure file sharing, audit logs, and granular control over user access and permissions. Consider platforms that comply with industry-specific regulations, such as HIPAA for healthcare or GDPR for data protection.

Document Encryption

Encrypt documents both at rest and in transit. Use industry-standard encryption protocols (e.g., AES-256) to protect data while stored on servers or during transmission over networks. This helps prevent unauthorized access or interception of documents by unauthorized users, most notably hackers and cybercriminals. Some security software providers automatically encrypt documents as they are uploaded and feature advanced security protocols, such as the ability to “remotely shred” a document even after it has been downloaded.

Secure Storage

Many collaborative projects require archiving and then accessing large numbers of confidential documents, from company performance records to market analytics to patient or client records. Choose a secure storage solution with appropriate access controls and encryption capabilities. The best software platforms are easy to use, which improves collaboration productivity. Implement data backups and disaster recovery plans to ensure business continuity and prevent data loss.

Access Controls

Robust access controls restrict document access to authorized individuals. This includes user authentication mechanisms such as strong passwords, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and role-based access control (RBAC) to grant specific permissions based on user roles and responsibilities, such as controlling usages as read-only, print, download, and blocking screenshots.

Secure File Transfer

Use secure file transfer protocols (e.g., SFTP or HTTPS) when sharing documents externally. A premium VDR provider ensures secure file transfer protocols. Avoid sending sensitive information via unencrypted email attachments or sharing via insecure file-sharing services like Box, DropBox. Google Drive, Microsoft SharePoint & OneDrive.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Employ a DLP solution that monitors and prevents the unauthorized transfer or leakage of sensitive information. DLP tools can identify and restrict the sharing of regulated data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), financial records, or medical data, to prevent accidental or intentional data breaches.

Document Versioning and Tracking

Maintain a record of document versions and track changes made by different collaborators. This ensures accountability and facilitates auditing, allowing for easy identification of contributors, and the ability to revert to a previous version if necessary. The best software solutions automatically maintain a detailed record of every version of a document, with notations of date and time and user.

Audit Trails and Logging

Enable comprehensive logging and auditing features to track user activities within the document collaboration environment. This includes recording actions such as document access, edits, downloads, and sharing. Audit trails help in compliance reporting, investigations, and identifying any suspicious activities. They are also a useful tool for management productivity analysis.

Regulatory Compliance

Ensure compliance with industry-specific regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR, PCI DSS, or SOX. Understand the specific requirements for document collaboration and implement necessary controls to meet those regulations. A premium VDR software provider not only meets these standards, but also provides templates for regulatory filings.

Employee Training and Awareness

Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about the importance of document security and the proper use of collaboration tools. Teach best practices for password management, secure sharing, and data protection to mitigate the risk of human error or negligence.

Start with a Secure Platform for Collaboration

It is crucial for organizations operating in regulated industries to continually assess their security practices, conduct risk assessments, and stay updated on evolving threats and compliance standards to maintain robust document collaboration security. A best first step is to use a virtual data room for storage and sharing of confidential documents.

ShareVault: Ultra-secure Virtual Data Room Provider

A ShareVault virtual data room provides the essential security features that protect your documents and allow you to grant or remove access at the click of a button. ShareVault has more than 15 years of experience in Life Sciences, Finance and M&A, Law, and other industries. The ShareVault support team can provide a VDR solution customized to an organization’s unique needs, then back it up with 24/7/365 tech support.

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