The security of confidential documents is a significant problem for most companies

Nearly two thirds of businesses say that confidential documents have accidentally been sent to the wrong person, in the last year.

There is a widespread and growing need to improve security practices surrounding confidential documents in most organisations today, according to a new study by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network. In a global survey of managers and information workers, six out of every ten respondents said they or someone they know have accidentally sent out a document they shouldn’t have.

Some 89 per cent of survey takers believe document security risks are growing in their organisation due to increased connectivity and the proliferation of mobile devices. The accidental sharing of confidential documents with a wrong party is by far their biggest concern.

The study report, entitled Getting Control of Document Flow: Exploring Exposure and Risk In Document-Related Data Breaches, was sponsored by Foxit Software.

Key findings

· 95 per cent of respondents express concerns about the security of documents in their organisation.

· 75 per cent say their organisations create confidential documents on at least a weekly basis.

· Less than one-third say their company has security solutions that are being effectively used in protecting document security.

· Some 43 per cent report that their company does not have widely understood policies for document security of which they are aware.

· Only 16 per cent say their organisation is very effective in stopping the loss or accidental distribution of confidential digital documents.

‘Most companies are clearly not doing enough when it comes to protecting the security of high-value information contained in documents,’ says Dave Murray, head of thought leadership for the BPI Network.

‘Our study indicates that a wide range of information that could compromise businesses is vulnerable to inadvertent leaks, as well as intentional theft. Organisations need to do more to set explicit document security policies and educate employees on available tools and best practices in securing the confidential information they handle.’

Accidentally sending a confidential document to the wrong party was by far the biggest area of perceived risk, identified by 61 per cent of respondents. Other top concerns were cyber breaches of critical documents (37 per cent), intentional leaks by employees (33 per cent), and sensitive documents shared without permission by outside partners (31 per cent).

Confidential documents are created in a wide range of departments within an enterprise, resulting in numerous types of high-value, at-risk information, according to the report. Survey participants ranked their concern for a wide variety of confidential, at-risk information.

Top concerns

· Financial data

· Employee records

· Legal documents

· Business contracts and agreements

· Trade secrets and intellectual property

· Business, marketing and sales plans

The survey also asked people to identify the most likely consequences of breaches related to confidential documents. The top five were:

  • Reputational compromises

Desire for New Solutions

The study also finds a strong desire for new and more effective types of document security solutions. The study specifically tested for interest in a cloud solution that can remotely track, recall and control digital documents after they have been distributed. Some 89 per cent of all respondents say this type of technology would be helpful in securing documents from unwanted exposure.

‘This study underscores a critical need for new document security solutions that address the challenges of a connected world,’ says Frank Kettenstock, vice president of marketing at Foxit Software.

‘To date, the Internet and other digital and mobile technologies have tended to create new vulnerabilities for document security. It’s time we update the digital document itself in ways that make it more controllable and secure.’

Further reading on confidential documents

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the