Data security continues to be a hot topic, with stories of massive breaches making headlines on a fairly regular basis. In many of these intrusions the valuable data that is stolen belongs to clients and employees of the company whose systems were hijacked. Although it is clear that this information usually involves names, dates of birth, social security numbers, home and email addresses, and perhaps other pieces of personal information, it is not always clear where exactly that information had been stored.
It is actually quite common for this information to be extracted from a company’s contracts, such as a licensing agreement with a client or an employee contract. The parties to a contract are generally required to provide personal details to fill in some of a contract’s blanks, and thus contracts contain rather valuable information from a hacker’s perspective. As a result, companies must ensure that they protect their contracts with the same vigilance that they protect their financial information and intellectual property. Here is how centralized control gives you ultimate contract security:
By establishing an online contract database, a company will be able to upload and save all of its contracts in one secure location. Of course, in addition to ensuring that hard copies of executed contracts are not misplaced, this also enables the database administrator to limit others’ access to those contracts. A lot of companies continue to rely on an overarching network with shared drives, which may work great for saving and locating documents that do not contain sensitive information.
However, for any items that do contain private or confidential information this is downright irresponsible. Even if a company believes it has created folders that are not viewable to everyone in the network, there are plenty of people who know how to get around these sort of barriers. Therefore, it is best to utilize a cloud-based system that requires permission, as well as multi-layer authentication for entry and access to ensure that contracts are protected adequately.
One of the problems with keeping a handle on confidential contract data relates to simply not realizing that it exists. When contracts are scattered across hard drives, or worse across bulky filing cabinets, the contract management team may not be able to keep tabs on what is happening. Obviously, this creates potential performance issues, but it is also a major security issue, as contracts may be lost or stolen without anyone even realizing that it has happened.
Fortunately, this is simply not possible when utilizing an online contract management system. By centralizing the contract portfolio, it is much easier to keep an eye on all of the company contracts, which clearly facilitates protecting that information.
Of course, in addition to protecting contract data by simply remaining aware of which contracts exist and are in effect, an online database also improves oversight, ensuring timely performance and compliance. A reputable contract management service will provide features that enable the administrator to grant access to anyone wishing to enter the data room. Ideally, the service will offer permissions-based roles so that the decision to allow access can be made on an individual basis.
With this sort of feature, there is no need to have an all or nothing approach. Each person will be permitted to access and view the contracts that are pertinent to his/her position and need, and that access may be revoked at any time.
In the event that external professionals must review a company’s contracts, it is important to ensure that the information is shared in a controlled environment. Rather than attach a PDF to an email, which can then be disseminated despite instructions to the contrary, it is best to share documents on a temporary basis via an online platform. This prevents downloading, printing, or further distribution, and with the right solution, allows for activity tracking. By knowing what was shared, with whom, and monitoring those individuals’ actions within the database, a company will be able to protect the information in its contracts and ascertain if something was misappropriated.