SharePoint Security Design

This question centers around securing files in a document library. I am designing an external SharePoint web site for users to log into.  All users and groups are part of a single Windows domain. I will be sharing files with users based on which security group they belong to. I need to ensure that files that are meant to be seen by one group are not viewable/searchable by anyone else not in that group.  My first thought is to setup a separate site collection for each group (all using the same Web Application) containing a unique library for that group.  However I could also just have one site collection that has a library for each group.  I could also just have one library that uses folder level security based on group membership or I could  assign permissions directly to the files. It is critical that one group does not see the other groups files or be able to search on them.  It should look like the user is logging into a personalized site that only contains their files.

What is the best security practice for setting up this SharePoint site. I know there are factors other than security to consider (and I would like to hear about those as well) but my focus right now is mainly on data security.
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Rainer JeschorConnect With a Mentor Commented:
imho it depends a little bit on your plans for further / additional usage of your SharePoint site. If it is just some kind of document storage without personalized / group dependent content (e.g. on the start page), you might go the route with dedicated document libraries.

For a more sophisticated way like customized start pages, I would suggest to create dedicated site collections (in separate content databases) - where you can simply configure each site collection setting independently from the other (e.g. recycle bin, retentions ...).

In general you should avoid setting permissions on the lowest levels like files or folders - but this is mostly due to an increased user administration / management effort/work load.

Just my 2ct
Walter CurtisConnect With a Mentor SharePoint AEDCommented:
It is critical that one group does not see the other groups files or be able to search on them.  It should look like the user is logging into a personalized site that only contains their files.

Having that above statement in your questions, Rainer is spot on. Use at least separate site collections. If really really secure then possibly separate web applications, if you can stay under the new 2013 recommendations on the number of web apps (10 - 20 web apps is the new max.) The advantage of web apps would be the addition of web app level user policy. Otherwise the individual site collection model would work fine for you. Rainer is also spot on for everything else, so he should get all the credit on this one.

Hope that helps...
jledbetterAuthor Commented:
Thank you both for your feedback!  I don't envision ever having more than 50 people log into the site. I would like to have personalized text when the user logs in however I found that some companies such as Bamboo Solutions make a web part that displays content based on the user or group (Hello web part) so that I don't need to build customized content on each site collection. This is really all of the customization that I need. Therefore it would be nice if I didn't have to build a separate site collection for every group from an administrative stand point but not if it compromises security.

If I would never have more than 100 top level folders, then what is the harm in assigning permissions for the groups at the top level folder for simplicity?  I wouldn't need to adjust any down-level permissions.  I also don't see the size of the library growing beyond 25 to 50gb.  Is there a security flaw in this design?
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