22 June, 2023

10 Best Practices for Sharing Documents with Third Parties

In today's digital age, the sharing of sensitive documents with third parties is a common practice for businesses and individuals alike. However, it’s crucial to ensure the security and protection of confidential information throughout this process. Below are 10 best practices to safeguard sensitive document information when sharing with third parties, ensuring data integrity, confidentiality, and compliance with privacy regulations.

1. Identify and classify sensitive documents

Before sharing any documents, it’s essential to identify and classify them based on their sensitivity. Categorize documents into different levels such as confidential, internal use only, or public. This step helps establish clear guidelines for document handling, access control, and encryption requirements based on their classification.

2. Limit access and use secure channels

Only grant access to sensitive documents to authorized personnel who have a legitimate need to know. Implement a robust user access management system that restricts access based on roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, when sharing documents externally, use secure channels such as encrypted email or secure file-sharing platforms that offer end-to-end encryption, such as a virtual data room. Avoid using unsecured methods like regular email or consumer-grade file-sharing platforms, such as Box and Dropbox.

3. Implement strong encryption

Utilize strong encryption methods to protect sensitive documents both during storage and while in transit. Encryption converts the data into an unreadable format, ensuring that even if intercepted, the information remains secure. Use industry-standard encryption algorithms and key management practices to safeguard the confidentiality and integrity of the documents.

4. Watermark sensitive documents

Adding visible or invisible watermarks to sensitive documents can provide an additional layer of protection. Watermarks make it easier to track the origin of a document and deter unauthorized sharing. Visible watermarks can discourage unauthorized distribution, while invisible watermarks embedded within the document can help identify the source if a document is leaked or misused.

5. Implement document expiry and revocation

In situations where time-sensitive information needs to be shared, implement document expiry features that restrict access beyond a certain date or time. This prevents unauthorized access to sensitive information once it is no longer needed. Additionally, implement document revocation capabilities, allowing you to revoke access to a document in case of a security breach or unauthorized disclosure.

6. Use secure collaboration platforms

When collaborating with third parties on sensitive documents, use secure collaboration platforms that provide granular control over access permissions and track document activities. These platforms often offer features such as version control, audit logs, and user activity monitoring, enabling you to have full visibility and control over document sharing.

7. Implement data loss prevention (DLP) measures

Deploy data loss prevention tools and technologies that help identify and prevent the unauthorized sharing of sensitive information. DLP solutions can detect and block the transmission of confidential data, apply encryption automatically, and alert administrators of potential breaches. Regularly review and update DLP policies to adapt to evolving threats and document handling practices.

8. Educate employees and third parties

Train your employees and third parties on best practices for handling sensitive documents and the importance of data security. Promote awareness about potential risks, phishing attacks, and the consequences of mishandling sensitive information. Encourage strong password management, two-factor authentication, and regular software updates to maintain a secure environment.

9. Regularly monitor and audit

Implement a robust monitoring and auditing system to track document activities and detect any suspicious behavior. Regularly review access logs, document sharing patterns, and user activity to identify and address potential security vulnerabilities. By monitoring and auditing document sharing practices, you can proactively mitigate risks and ensure compliance with privacy regulations.

10. Compliance with privacy regulations

Ensure that your document sharing practices align with relevant privacy regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act). Understand the legal requirements and obligations for sharing sensitive documents with third parties, including obtaining proper consent, maintaining data subject rights, and ensuring cross-border data transfers comply with applicable regulations.


Safeguarding sensitive document information is of paramount importance when sharing documents with third parties. By implementing these best practices, organizations can minimize the risk of unauthorized access, data breaches, and ensure compliance with privacy regulations. Identifying and classifying documents, limiting access, using secure channels, implementing encryption, and educating employees are all crucial steps towards maintaining data integrity, confidentiality, and trust in document sharing processes. By prioritizing the security of sensitive documents, businesses can foster a secure environment and protect valuable information from falling into the wrong hands.

Using a ShareVault virtual data room is the best way to ensure that sensitive information remains secure when shared with third parties. ShareVault virtual data room features include: customizable permissioning, a complete audit trail of user activity, advanced security features such as two-factor authentication and remote shredding, IP address tracking, dynamic watermarking, and AES-256 encryption for files both at rest and in transit.

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