Contractual agreements hold some of the most important, confidential, and sensitive data of any organization. This makes contracts highly critical documents that need to be securely stored and encrypted. But this is often not the case. Contracts are routinely stored in filing cabinets, hard drives, and individual computer folders.
This makes contracts easily accessible by anyone and everyone, putting them at risk of falling into the wrong hands and being misused. And the increase in cyber-crime and Internet hacking have put companies at perpetual risk of potential legal, financial, and brand liabilities, making contract data protection an urgent requirement.
With so much at stake, companies need to take measures to ensure robust security of their contracts. This applies especially to large Fortune 2000 companies that have an average of 20,000 to 40,000 contracts at any given point and thus an increased risk of exposing important information.
Let’s explore how advanced, digitized contract management solutions help organizations secure their contracts and stay protected from security breaches and data hacks:
1. Centralized electronic repository
Manual contracting processes mean contracts are stored physically in file cabinets, individual hard drives, shared drives, or computer folders in multiple locations and formats, with next to no security. The first and foremost step to ensure your contracts are safe across the organization is to move them to a secure, password-protected centralized repository located in the cloud.
This step, along with organizing the contracts, ensures they can be accessed securely by the right stakeholders from anywhere and any device, reducing the chances of them falling into the wrong hands. To further fortify security, contracts can also be encrypted while being stored in the centralized contract repository.
2. Secure intake forms
Contract requests are still primarily done through email, and all important contract data for requests are gathered through exchanging email back and forth. This is a time-consuming and risky way to gather data considering email is one of the easiest ways for hackers to hack into corporate networks and compromise company systems using malware.
Advanced contract management solutions have secure, encrypted contract request forms with a step-by-step guide that makes initiating contract requests quick, easy, and accurate. They ensure that all requested data does not leave the secure contract network and keeps contract data from being misused. When sending contract data to external parties or portals, encrypting the data provides an additional layer of security and protects data from being hacked.
3. Configurable, role-based permissions
A digital, integrated contract management solution comes built-in with configurable role- and rank-based access. This allows authorities to allocate a certain level of permissions to certain stakeholders depending on their rank, role, seniority, etc. Permissions can also be configured based on the type of contract and risks associated with it, with only the allocated members getting to access contract information at any stage of the contract lifecycle. This ensures that contracts are protected from any unauthorized entry and information misuse.
4. E-signatures capability
E-signature functionality has made signing contracts much more convenient, safer, and faster. It enables authorities to sign contract documents from any location and any device, thus allowing people to sign remotely without having to be physically present for the signing.
And in addition to the time and convenience factor, e-signatures also contribute largely to ensuring contract security – contracts are shared with only the right stakeholders for signing, and e-signatures keep track of when, where, and by whom the contracts have been signed. This helps with maintaining an accurate audit trail and ensures increased accountability and reduced scope for malpractice.
Looking at the above points, we can conclude that physical contract storage and rudimentary contract management processes are just not enough to ensure contract data safety anymore. Investing in sophisticated, integrated, digital contract management solutions with advanced data security and encryption features is a guaranteed way to ensure your organization’s crucial data is not compromised and that your organization is immunized from the ever-increasing security attacks and data breaches.