How secure is outsourced document storage?

April 24, 2017 Andy Morley, UK Data Entry, Cleardata UK Ltd

Outsourced document storage has seen a huge rise in popularity over recent years. Primarily used for business files, some of a company’s most sensitive data is finding a home offsite and without the need for paper. With that in mind, understanding how secure document storage systems are is imperative. Both providers and those utilizing the service should be comfortable in the knowledge that records and files are comprehensively protected.

Competition improves security

With a whole host of platform providers to choose from, security gets a boost. Whether it’s a personal Dropbox or Google Drive account or a mass enterprise-level system holding thousands of files, with each provider claiming to be safer and more secure than the rest, the beauty of competition shines when it comes to secure document storage. Advanced tools and algorithms, such as Ciphertext-policy attribute-based encryption, and homomorphic encryption have lent themselves in a favorable way to many of the major platform providers.

Type of encryption

The majority of document storage systems make use of the cloud. The simplest way that data and information is kept secure is through encryption, as you might expect.

Attribute-based encryption can essentially instantly block any person trying to access data with the wrong credentials. At a most basic term, attributes can include location, IP or device but are commonly used to create a set of rules that must be present for access to be granted.

Homomorphic encryption is also used by many providers. Fully homomorphic encryption is highly effective, especially where outsourcing is concerned. It allows for encrypted data to be handled by an outside agent without disclosing any input. This is arguably one of the key reasons outsourced services have begun to grow and be considered ‘trustworthy’ by many.

Cloud security and permissions

The cloud and security almost go hand in hand. Despite all of the claims that it is tightly safeguarded, there will always be the worry that would-be hackers are able to access and steal data. That’s exactly why important documents are stored as safely as possible. Again, encryption is used to protect files, both in transit and while idle.

There is also the key benefit of audit trails and file history. While unauthorized access is a huge slice of the security pie, people with permission can also pose a risk, willingly or otherwise. The cloud offers an ability to specifically state which people have access to documents. This can come in the form of users and passwords, or even granting access by IP address. This doesn’t necessarily remove the entire window of potential intrusion but it certainly makes it much smaller.

Constant evolution

With a whole host of potential pitfalls, document storage is sometimes considered a risk, usually by those yet to be convinced that paper records can be beat. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. Hackers will undoubtedly get smarter and find workarounds. With that said, document storage providers have an obligation to continue to work on and improve their platforms. That means that every day, security is boosted that little bit more.

Andy Morley works for UK Data Entry, part of Cleardata Group, providers of document storage solutions. The company aims to supply a secure system for outsourced, digital storage.

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