How many times have you shared a confidential document via a personal email address? Email platforms like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail are popularly used but they aren’t necessarily the best options for sharing private documents.
As we’ve seen in the past, these platforms can all be hacked.
While having your identity or business secrets stolen hasn’t happened yet – this doesn’t mean you should continue putting yourself at risk.
There are more secure methods you can use for sending and receiving documents. And we all know how important document sharing is when it comes time to close deals with clients.
But whatever your reasons for sending a document to a client, make sure you’re using methods that won’t jeopardize the security of you and your customers.
This is especially important since 80% of data leaks are purely accidental.
Let’s take a look at how you can share documents with clients securely.
Encrypting Documents Before Sharing
There are many benefits to encrypting documents on your computer. For one, it can help minimize the chances of unauthorized users (or hackers) from gaining access to sensitive data.
You can use encryption for files you store on your computer, in the cloud, or that you send to a client. Now, it’s important to note that once you send an encrypted file to your client, there’s no way to keep it secure.
This is because once the client decrypts the document, there’s no telling if they’ll send it to someone else. Plus, you can’t prevent them from printing out a PDF or the passersby from taking peeks at the screen.
However, you can guarantee your document arrives securely.
Encryption technology uses complex algorithms to create jumbled data that can only be unscrambled by individuals with a password. So in the event a hard drive or computer is stolen, these files are impossible to decrypt without the key.
There are tools you can use on both Windows and Mac computers that can encrypt your documents. On these operating systems, your account password is the key to decrypt the encrypted files.
Here’s a look at how you can encrypt documents on both operating systems.
Encrypting Files On MacOS
The process is rather simple for Mac users. All you have to do is turn on the FileVault.
You do this by going to System Preferences>Security & Privacy>FileVault. Once you do this, your entire hard drive becomes encrypted.
So anyone without your password won’t be able to open up a single file on your computer.
You’re also able to encrypt files stored on a flash drive, which you can send to clients as well. To do this, you have to right-click on the USB drive in Finder and select encrypt.
Encrypting Files On Windows
If you’re looking to encrypt files on a Windows computer, then you’ll have to do a little bit more. Now, there are some Windows computers that automatically encrypt files on default.
One way to tell if your computer does this is to go to your Settings>System>About. Then scroll down to “Device Encryption.”
If you don’t have the ability to do this, then you can use another feature called BitLocker. The way you enable this is by going to Control Panel>System and Security>Manage BitLocker.
This will encrypt all of the files on your computer, as well as any external drives connected to it. This is a great way to move files from one PC to another.
Or you can use this to add an additional layer of security for a portable drive.
Now, in order for this all to work, you need to have a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which is a special chip that comes in select PCs. You’ll also need Windows 10 Professional.
Worst case, you can use VeraCrypt or another free program. These can be used for Mac, Windows, as well as Linux.
It can either encrypt all of the files on your computer. Or you can just encrypt specific folders and files. Just be sure to remember the password or you’ll get locked out of your own documents.
Once you encrypt your files, you can email them to your clients.
Storing Your Documents in the Cloud
There are various cloud services you can use to secure your files and documents. Plus, you can share them with your clients.
What’s great about cloud storage is that you can keep the files on the 3rd party platform. Everyone with access can view the documents without downloading them to their own computers and networks.
The key is to choose a cloud service that offers great security. There are services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box, which are widely used and known for being secure.
They encrypt your data and allow you to collaborate on documents. For instance, Dropbox allows you to show previews on sensitive files and share documents with clients.
But don’t let down your guard when using the cloud. Use randomly-generated passwords and two-factor authentication features.
Signing Documents Electronically
There will come a time when you need to have a client sign documents. For example, non-disclosure agreements, contracts, and other key documents required in day-to-day business may need immediate signing.
But what if your clients are in another city, state, or country? You can handle this by using digital documents and e-signatures.
Many countries around the world are adopting electronic signature laws to make them legally binding. You can use platforms like eversign, which complies with the US’s and Europe’s strict security and authentication requirements.
If you decide to use a platform like this, you’ll find the process of managing documents becomes a whole lot easier. You can securely send documents you upload or create on your computer.
Then send them to all necessary recipients who need to sign the document.
The platform helps you to keep track of all the documents that are pending signatures. This way, you can stay on top of getting documents signed in a timely fashion.
You’ll know who to reach out to when signatures are taking too long.
What’s great about these platforms is that you can sign documents from anywhere you have an internet connection. And you can use your desktop or mobile device.
For instance, if you have a tablet or smartphone, you can use the screen and a stylus or even your finger to draw your signature. You can do the same with a mouse or mouse pad.
Other options include uploading an image of your signature.
You can do this by cropping out your signature from a scanned document and uploading that. However, if you don’t have access to any of these, you can always have the platform auto-generate a signature for you.
There’s no need for the signature to look exactly like your handwritten or “wet” signature.
Using Encrypted ZIP Files
Here’s another great option for encrypting data before sending it to your clients. If you’ve never created an encrypted ZIP file, it’s quite easy.
This will strengthen the security of your files before you transfer it via email, PC-to-PC file transfers, or uploads into the cloud.
You’ll find open source software are more trustworthy in this case, such as 7-Zip. Once you download it, open it up and choose the files you’d like to send.
Right-click the files and choose “Go to 7-Zip.” Next, click on “Add to Archive.” Once a window pops up and select AES-256.
There’s no need to make any changes to the values found beneath “Encryption Method.” Then you’ll choose your password, which will be the key to decrypt the file, so don’t lose it.
Click “OK” and your archive will be created. You can then email the ZIP file to your client. Use another email or another form of communication to send your client the password to unlock the ZIP file.
Your client will need 7-Zip to download and unlock the encrypted files.
Ensuring the Security of Your Business Documents
There are a number of security threats just waiting to take your business down. If it’s not identity thieves, it’s hackers looking for sensitive data to sell to the black market.
Don’t let a data breach happen to your company. Ensure all documents you send to clients and even among co-workers is properly encrypted.
Your best bet is to avoid using unsecured platforms when sending sensitive information.
Instead, use a third-party platform that’ll secure your documents in the cloud. This will help reduce the risk exponentially.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever been the victim of a data breach or what plans you have to avoid one!