Although document automation software provides better security for your documents than the old way of managing them in a filing cabinet, there are still loopholes that can create vulnerability. Being alert to the possible threats makes it possible to secure those documents.
There are four crucial vulnerable instances that organizations need to be cautious about. At these points, the threat can come from within or outside.
Document automation vulnerabilities manifest at these points:
The following are the seven common document vulnerabilities that have been identified by industry experts. Luckily though, there are also remedies to these threats:
This is an attack that exploits the different weak spots that make up the 7 vulnerabilities above. With the man in the middle attack, a hacker will position themselves between the user and the next endpoint. This could be between a user and an email correspondent, a cloud server, or even a browser.
The man in the middle intends to steal vital information such as:
The purpose of this may vary and depend on the organization that the man in the middle is targeting. Financial institutions may be targeted in order to commit fraud, medical records may provide information that can be exposed for some kind of gain and at times it is to discredit the organization whose documents has been stolen.
Certain points of the document automation system can be more vulnerable to this kind of attack because they do not have encryption. The methods the attacker will use include:
Although the man in the middle attack can result in a major embarrassment to an organization just like the Wikileaks scandal, it is possible to prevent them with simple strategies. The hackers may come up with new ways to intercept, but they can always be discovered and plugged up. Here are the main ways to prevent these attacks:
Most document automation systems will make use of cloud storage. It is an efficient way to store documents in a place that can be accessed with ease and the business does not have to worry about maintaining servers.
However, cloud storage is an offsite storage system and that makes it vulnerable to infiltration. It is also a shared storage system that can be accessed from different points. According to NSA, most vulnerabilities with cloud storage are self-inflicted. The users of these systems may open themselves up to threats in the way they set up the system or the way they use it. The common loopholes in cloud storage include:
Since most times the weaknesses are a result of the way the system is used, it is easy to fix any vulnerabilities. The recommended fixes include:
The beauty of document authentication is that it allows access to documents using any device that has a connection to the internet. This means employees can access them from any location using their personal devices like mobile phones, laptops, and so on.
Unfortunately, this is also a vulnerability. There is no guarantee that these devices will only be in the possession of their owners. When these devices are stolen, it may be very easy for intruders to gain access to email communication, passwords as well as clear access to information. While in possession of the stolen device, the thief can assume the privileges of the owner and access all the information their level of clearance allows them to have.
There is also the fact that most people will store passwords on their browsers for easy access which means possession of these devices is a wide-open door for access to every information that should be secured.
It would be much easier to prevent the theft of these devices in the first place. You can find out different ways to keep your devices safe like not leaving them unattended in public places, not carrying an obvious laptop bag, and not carrying them in places known to be unsafe. That though is no guarantee that they will not be stolen so you can also do the following:
Document automation usually includes emailing documents to clients, team members, and other concerned individuals. This process of sharing information might be one of the most vulnerable situations. For example, if a bank emails account details to a client, there is no way of knowing whether the recipient may have left their computer unattended to and someone else saw the message and copied those details.
Email can serve as an entry point for attacks as well as a leak for documents. Here are some of the vulnerabilities created by email:
Document automation may depend on external sources to provide updated data. For example, as an organization prepares a presentation, they may use the internet to find updated figures about particular reports. Since these are sourced automatically, it is possible that hackers can use this as a way of gaining information from your server. Trojan horses for example may disguise themselves as packet data with the kind of information you are looking for and once accepted into the system, they will begin to send information back to the hacker.
It is also possible for people within the organization to enter the wrong data into the system and this might be used in all documents, affecting the credibility of an organization.
While automation will make most documents paperless, there may still be some hard copy paper documents that are printed, scanned, or even faxed. These present a serious problem especially for medical organizations that are supposed to adhere to HIPAA regulations.
It is much harder to ensure privacy and confidentiality with paper documents. Imagine a scenario where a document is printed but the person who prints it forgets to retrieve it from the shared printer, that information can end up in the hands of anyone and compromise the rest of the stored information in the server.
Also, in the process of scanning hard copy documents, this information is vulnerable to hacking and man in the middle attacks since it is not encrypted at that point. This can compromise privacy as well.
Although, for the most part, the process of automating documents is free from human involvement, it cannot entirely be automated. When humans get involved in some processes, they can make the process vulnerable. There are many cases in which human error can create vulnerabilities. These include:
Vulnerability is not static. It is necessary to periodically carry out vulnerability audits to see if there may be a loophole created either because of new processes introduced or even newly authorized individuals. It is also essential to encourage everyone that uses the document automation software to vigilantly prevent any threats.
In the end, automation improves the security of documents and ensures that information is trusted. By addressing the vulnerabilities, the document automation process can get closer to perfection.