Document Security: Tips for Sending Files Online

Letters to Home in a Mailbox like Document SecurityIs your email private and secure? In a word, no.

Not only is the NSA watching your metadata, but if you’re using an unencrypted Wi-Fi network to connect to the Internet, your information is easily hacked. Moreover, many email users are less than scrupulous about keeping messages private and data secure.

5 Steps To Ensure Online Document Security

For most people, sending documents securely is an occasional issue. Sensitive documents like financial applications, medical forms and records, legal documents and tax information should be handled with care. If you’re a medical/dental office, then HIPAA compliance is a major consideration. Before you hit the “send” button, take a few extra steps to ensure document security:

  • Secure access to your email account. This may sound overly-basic, but if you leave your computer on with your Inbox open, anyone passing by can see what you’ve sent.
  • Make sure that your recipient’s email is also secure. People regularly open email on mobile devices, so the potential for accidentally “sharing” is even greater.
  • Use an encrypted Internet connection. No Wi-Fi hotspots, no “piggybacking” on someone else’s account.
  • Use a file-sending service like Dropbox or Hightail. Files are encrypted in transit and in storage, and you can password-protect your files.
  • Or encrypt it yourself. You can encrypt your email using Open PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) software. If you do, both you and your recipient will need a “public key” in order to encrypt and decrypt messages.

Remember, too, that any information contained in the text of an email may be at risk. So, even if you aren’t attaching sensitive documents, make sure your in-message comments are secure by omitting reference to your social security number, bank accounts. When it comes to document security, here’s a rule of thumb: be aware of sending anything you wouldn’t want a hacker, the government or your mother to see.