11 January 2021
One of my favorite webpages is haveibeenpwned.com. It tells you if a database containing your email address has been breached and the contents published online.
If you have more than a handful of internet accounts, there is a good chance that your data have already been leaked. Mine certainly have, due to multiple data breaches.
If you see that you have been pwned (gamerspeak for ‘owned’, which means someone ‘got one over on you’), don’t panic. There are two easy steps you need to follow to make sure this doesn’t cause you a lot of grief:
- Go to the website that was the source of the data leak and change your password.
- If you’ve used that password for any other websites, go to those websites and change your password.
Don’t just ignore the problem. You might think, “who cares if someone hacked into ponyphotos.com, I don’t have any sensitive information there.” You’re right that hackers aren’t interested in ponyphotos.com — but they are interested in your bank and if you use the same password (or security questions, etc.) for your bank as you do for ponyphotos.com then you’re in trouble.
5 January 2021
Many software review sites don’t mention security. That may be because security can be difficult to assess from the outside, unless you’re a hacker. However, we have noticed that some review sites do consider security and they do it in a way that may seem surprising at first: they simply ask, “does the company’s website talk about security?” Does that make sense? Let’s look at an example to find out.
Example of a document automation review website that assesses security
Documentautomationreviews.com is an example of a website that reviews document automation software and incorporates the security of the software into its grading system.
The reality is that the security of each document automation software package is opaque, and difficult to impossible for an outsider to assess, at least apart from engaging in a penetration test.
However, documentautomationreviews.com takes a simple tack: it simply checks whether the document automation software vendor discusses security on its website. If it does, the company is deemed to have a degree of security conscientiousness; if it doesn’t, the company is deemed to have potentially overlooked security issues.
Is this technique helpful?
While mentioning security on one’s website may be superficial, we agree that it does indicate whether the company’s staff are at least somewhat security conscious and thinking about security. It’s an imperfect metric, to be sure, but we think it’s better than nothing!
So the next time you’re considering buying document automation software, consider browsing their website and observing whether the website talks about security. It’s not a guarantee, but if they mention it they are more likely to take security concerns seriously than if they fail to mention it altogether.
When buying or subscribing to document automation software, you need to take security into account. But how can you know what to look for and what questions to ask potential vendors?
We think you should focus on two specific security risks: transit risk and storage risk.
Transit risk for document automation software
You should ask potential document automation software vendors if their “software client”, which will be installed on your PC, will communicate with their server. If so, you should ask if that communication is encrypted.
If the vendor mentions TLS (new name) or SSL (old name) encryption, then you’re probably in good shape. If they don’t mention any encryption, you should be concerned that your communication could be eavesdropped on via a man-in-the-middle attack.
Storage risk for document automation software
The other risk you need to pay attention to is storage risk. While your information may arrive safely on the document automation provider’s servers, if those servers are poorly protected a hacker might sneak in and grab your information.
So ask about the measures the document automation provider takes to secure documents when “at rest” or “in storage”. They should mention firewalls and possibly even encryption at rest.
However, there is one method of security that is even better than those: a document automation provider that deletes all uploaded content within a specified time range is the most secure of all. It’s impossible for a hacker to steal something that isn’t there.
This is the approach taken by some document automation software providers. Epsillion document automation is an example of a company that deletes customer-uploaded documents on a schedule the company agrees with each client.
In conclusion, consider both transit risk and storage risk when choosing a document automation software provider. Conscientious vendors take security precautions like encryption and regular deletion. It’s your right to ask potential vendors about their security precautions before you agree to become their customer. After all, the customer is always right!