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Many organisations, including my own, now hold and distribute their Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) as electronic documents. Typically, a PDF format is used so that the recipient of the BCP can’t make unauthorised changes. However, the use of electronic documents raises the issue of security, particularly as these are often held on memory sticks and distributed by email.

There are a number of software products available that are designed to secure PDF documents, both in terms of who can gain access and what someone is allowed to do with the document once they have gained access. Such software products are often used to protect copyright by disabling the Copy facility. However, these products are not very secure, and there are quite a number of freely downloadable utilities that can be used to break the security and provide complete access to any secured PDF document.

The answer is to use robust and up to date encryption software, but this can often get in the way of using the BCPs in the event of an incident, particularly if the people needing to respond do not have access to the encryption key or the software needed for decryption. My company, Merrycon, has decided that its own BCP needs to be better protected, and is in the process of evaluating potential solutions. How many other organisations are encrypting their BCPs?

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