File Access Management: Practical Tips to Keep Your Data Secure

December 18, 2021

The CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification) puts an emphasis on wrapping security controls around sensitive data. A robust file access management and security solution is a necessity to meet increased data security requirements across the industry.

Data security is important for any business. It’s exponentially more important if you’re a defense contractor.

There’s a great deal you can do, and quite a bit you must do, to protect your documents. The easiest way to review your options is to start with security basics, first lines of defense, and gradually explore more and more stringent solutions. That’s what we’ll do in this article.

Start with the Principle of Least Privilege

The principle of least privilege is becoming increasingly more common in file access management, and with good reason. By implementation of this principle, each user is given the least amount of privilege in order to accomplish their task. Some examples are the ability to view, edit, download, print, or delete a document. Each user should be given the least number of permissions they need to do their job because with each additional permission a user is given, the security of that document is reduced and risk is increased with no increase in benefit. So, for example, a user may very well need editing privileges, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be able to download the file.

The principle of least privilege comes out of the NIST 800-171 standard, control 3.1.5 found on page 12 of the NIST.SP.800-171r2 documentation, and more broadly, DFARS 7012. These requirements are meant to protect federal contract information (FCI) and controlled unclassified information (CUI).

This principle is straightforward enough in theory. But how do you execute it in practice? Aim to establish the highest degree of granularity possible, using a file access management solution to help you. Go all the way down to granting permissions at the file level rather than the folder level. This way, you can avoid giving users access to buckets of information when they only need spoonfuls. You can also set granular permissions on each document to minimize the chance that anyone will distribute or otherwise misuse sensitive classifications of data.

Let’s get even more specific. One highly effective way to prevent users with view-only permission from misusing a document is through dynamic watermarking. When they log in and view the document, they’ll be able to read it, but they’ll also see a dynamically generated watermark containing an audit ID and their own email address.

This type of watermark protects your data in two ways. First, it changes user behavior. Even a user who was considering taking a picture of the document so that they could review it later will see that watermark and think twice about violating the security policy. Second, the watermark increases accountability. If an unauthorized photo of a document does circulate, it will contain a code that reveals the violator’s identity and contact information.

Protect Files Beyond Your Network

So far, we’ve discussed controls for users within your organization. What about when you share information outside your network? You’ll once again want to lean on a robust file access management solution.

A good solution will let you establish access controls and keep protections encapsulated around your data even after it leaves your network. Look for a solution that has FIPS-140-2 cryptographic validated technology. Most consumer-grade file access management solutions lack this validation. And most of the solutions that do offer it are prohibitively expensive. Cocoon Data, however, provides an ideal balance.

Cocoon runs on patented technology with a security triad that uses single key management. The first layer of security is that we encrypt every single document with a unique key. So, even if a hacker were to breach a folder, they would still find that every file is locked.

The second layer is identity validation. All users must be able to prove that they are who they say they are. The third layer is a security policy in which you can define specific access controls for each user. Within the policy, you can specify viewing and editing permissions, geofencing, time constraints, IP address restrictions, and more.

These are truly granular controls that allow you to establish complete protection for each document on your network.

See It for Yourself

You may have found that up until recently, consumer-grade file access management solutions met your security needs. But if you’re facing stringent compliance requirements, it might be time to look for a stronger solution. That’s why we’re here.

With Cocoon Data, once you’ve set your security policies, the solution runs in the background to keep your documents safe and your organization in compliance with Department of Defense regulations. Find out more about our file access management solution.


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File Access Management: Practical Tips to Keep Your Data Secure