Exposed: 7 ways email document sharing is putting your organization at risk
Sending sensitive documents via email is a risky and out-of-date way to handle customer records. Yet, it is still a common practice among many banks and financial institutions. Without a secure and reliable platform to exchange documents, many organizations turn to emails as the primary means of exchanging sensitive customer data, including contracts, personal identification documents, and other financial information, including:
- Proof of identity, such as a passport or driver's license
- When customers need to apply for a loan, they can email their financial statements and other supporting documents directly to the bank
- Customers may need to share confidential information related to taxation or other legal matters via email; this could include providing proof of income or statements from other financial institutions.
- Banks may also ask customers to submit copies of bills and receipts if they apply for certain services or products, such as credit cards or mortgages.
- For businesses seeking loans from banks, business plans, and contracts must be shared securely via email for review and approval by the bank's representatives.
Collecting and sharing customer documents is a critical part of running a financial institution, and these are just a few examples of the types of documents that financial institutions exchange via email.
However, emails are vulnerable to malicious attacks and data breaches, which can compromise confidential customer information that could impact multiple stakeholders, including customers, employees, and third-party partners. To make matters worse, emails make it challenging to track document exchanges, leaving you without an audit trail in case of a dispute or a compliance violation.
By relying on emails to exchange customer documents, your financial institution is exposed to various risks that could result in lost revenue, reputational damage, and regulatory fines. Here are a few examples of instances where email document exchange can cause problems for financial institutions:
1. Not meeting regulatory requirements
Sending emails with sensitive information in the body of the message can make it more challenging to track who accessed or viewed the document, which is required by many regulators. Without knowing who has seen the documents, banks, and other financial institutions could be subject to regulatory fines and penalties for non-compliance with data privacy requirements such as the GDPR.
2. Poor data security
Email is not a secure way to exchange customer documents, as emails can be easily intercepted by cybercriminals or malicious actors who may use the information for identity theft, fraud, and other illegal activities. In addition, email servers may contain malware that could cause further damage if accessed by an unauthorized party.
3. Lost or stolen documents
Emails can easily be lost in the shuffle, especially if a customer is using multiple email accounts or if the document is not stored properly on the server. Additionally, emails are vulnerable to hacking and malicious attacks that could result in lost documents or stolen information.
4. Loss of control over documents
Emailing sensitive customer data can put the document in the hands of anyone with access to the recipient’s account. This could mean customers’ confidential information is no longer under your organization's control. Without a secure platform for exchanging documents, you may also have little insight into who else has access to the customer documents being shared.
5. Lack of audit trail
Email communication can make it difficult to prove who was involved in a conversation or agreement, which can lead to legal disputes that can result in costly litigation. Without an audit trail to back up communications, financial institutions may be unable to defend against claims or defend their interests in court.
6. Errors and mistakes
There is no way to automatically validate data points in an attachment sent via email without manually checking every document sent or running it via an OCR soltion. This could lead to errors or lost documents, resulting in missed opportunities and costly delays.
7. Increased risk of fraud
Financial institutions are becoming increasingly vulnerable to fraud, including identity theft and money laundering. Email-based document exchange increases the risk of these activities, as sensitive information is often stored in unencrypted attachments or sent through unsecured email servers.
8. Inefficient document workflows
Without an automated system for document collection and sharing, employees are often left manually sorting through large volumes of emails, which can lead to delays and errors.
Sending files through email can be challenging to keep track of multiple versions of the same document. It’s important to establish a secure system for document exchange that keeps track of who has access to customer information and when changes are made.
9. Inefficient Collaboration
Sharing documents via email can make it difficult to collaborate with other stakeholders, as there is no easy way to keep track of who has viewed or edited a document.
It can take days for a document to be returned by the customer, with no way of tracking its progress.
10. Data is difficult to find
Searching through email for a specific document can be time-consuming. With emails, it’s impossible to know if the latest version of the document was sent, and you may not be able to find what you’re looking for quickly.
In addition, email provides no way to track when and how documents are shared, meaning you have no way to know if files or documents that contain sensitive information are being sent and received properly.
The bottom line
With so much sensitive data being exchanged over unsecure channels, there is an urgent need for secure document exchange solutions to protect customer information from potential threats.
The bottom line is that transferring files through email creates risks for customers and organizations alike. To maximize security and efficiency, organizations should consider replacing email as a document exchange platform with an automated solution designed specifically for digital document management.
To ensure customer documents remain secure and compliant, financial institutions should move away from email document exchange to more secure platforms that are designed for the transmission of sensitive information.
Digital data collection platforms such as EasySend provide a secure channel for document exchange and storage; with features like 2FA, encryption, and data validation, financial institutions can securely transfer files between customers and the organization, track document exchanges in real-time, and have an audit trail of all activity.
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