How to share information while keeping confidentiality and control

Any business or public institution needs to leverage the Internet to conduct business relationships with their ecosystem: clients, partners, service providers, auditors, etc.

The trend of externalisation of key company functions further drives the need to exchange business information with people outside of the company perimeter. How do you share your confidential information today?

Today, more than 90 per cent of companies share confidential information in an unprotected manner. Many use a legal protection mechanism, an NDA, SLA or other legally binding instruments, while others just trust being lucky. Very few implement technology measures to ensure that their key confidential information is not leaked when shared. Actually, their counterparts can truly intend to honour the NDA, but then fall foul of a cyberattack and hence lose the information involuntarily.

Confidentiality: Who's responsible?

At the end of the day, who is responsible when the information is leaked? The information owner. It is their duty to protect the information even when it is not under their direct control, since they face significant risks associated with potential data breaches, impacting their competitive position, brand, image, reputation, or compliance with regulations.

The intangible and digital nature of the Internet creates a much higher perception of insecurity of the information than the manipulation and interchange of information using the traditional 'physical media'. When a file is shared on the Internet you completely and irremediably lose control of it, as it is like signing a 'transfer agreement' for a lifetime about which there is no chance to repent.

But this also happens to individuals: how many people have regretted sharing unprotected personal information with their friends or colleagues?.

On the other hand there is no choice, exchanging confidential information in digital form using Internet services with corporate and individual counterparts is not optional. It is expected. Being effective at using the Internet to deliver the best services is paramount for keeping competitiveness on the market.

Questions to ask

  • How can this gap be filled? Is there a risk to accept? Do I need to live with it and trust my good luck in order not to lose any confidential information?
  • What if the confidential documents could be sent through any channel, such as email, cloud, USB, in such a way that only the people entitled to read it could do so?
  • What if I could allow the recipients to do with the document only the actions that I want them to do, including read-only, print, edit, copy?
  • What if I could revoke the permissions after I sent the documents and hence prohibit access whenever I want?
  • What if I could make a document available to a group of people for just a period of time?

There are now solutions on the market, that allow you to do all the above with any type of document from any type of device. They encrypt your files with a secure algorithm, providing an easy way to define the users with access entitlements and setting the actions that can be performed on them within a time window.

Once protected, you can send the file via your preferred communication channel in the confidence that only the people you authorise will have access to it and no one else. If you change your mind and want to remove the permissions granted to a person two weeks later, you can do so and the access grant shall be revoked in real time no matter where the file is stored. It is like having a remote control on your files.

Do you use this type of tools? Do you trust them?

This secure information exchange can be done with anyone, external or internal, belonging to an organisation or an individual user; they only need to be registered and identify themselves to the service.

It is possible for any company or individual to share information on the Internet without running the risk of information loss. You just need to use the right tool. How do you share your confidential information?

José Manuel Rodríguez, Sales Manager at Prot-On

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Maksim Kabakou