5 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Secure Online File Sharing Solution

Mar 11, 2014

2014-03-11 Questions.jpgBusinesses are increasingly searching for a good way to allow employees to access files across devices. Adding an online file sharing solution to an organization’s technology lineup can help boost productivity and improve efficiency, so it’s no surprise that many IT admins and small business owners are evaluating available solutions.

Finding a solution that has the ideal mix of flexibility and control for the admin and ease of use for employees can be difficult. Add in the fact that the product should support your BYOD, mobile device and security policies, and the task can be particularly daunting. There are so many online file sharing solutions in the market, so how do you determine which will be the best fit?

During your evaluation, here are 5 questions you should ask your sales rep to help determine whether their online file sharing solution will meet the needs of your organization:

1. Was this product originally designed for consumers or businesses?

Quite a few products on the market are meant for casual consumer use. Many of these products also offer a “business” version of the product, which oftentimes has a few extra features like the ability to add and remove users and view how much storage has been used overall. However, the security of these systems is still typically consumer-grade, and true business features are lacking. When looking for a file sharing solution to use in an office environment, make sure it is one that will protect your company files and meet your business needs.

2. What kind of security does your product offer my business?

Again, many products were originally designed for consumer use and security is therefore subpar. Anything less than enterprise-grade security should be unacceptable. What does this mean? At a bare minimum, end-to-end encryption, SSL transfers and at-rest encryption should be used to be considered secure. There should be no data de-duplication across accounts which ensures your business data remains completely separate and secure within your own organization. You can also ask questions about compliance with HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, SSAE 16 Type II, PCI and other data standards to get a sense of what kind of security is offered. Detailed security documentation should also be provided.

3. What kind of insight do I have into account activity?

All business products should have an admin console for managing users and account activity. Some are pretty basic and don’t offer much more than the ability to view a list of all users and how much storage is being used. A good business product should give you the ability to view all account activity at a high level and then drill down into the details for more information when necessary. An audit trail of activity is typically provided, showing activity for users, files and associated devices, such as sharing activity, changes made to files, devices added, etc. Suspicious activity should be able to be easily identified, such as invalid logins, password resets, and devices unlinked. And reports should be easy to read and manipulate.

4. What kind of control do I have over the files synced using your product?

For an admin, the most important aspect of a business-friendly online file sharing product is to be able to maintain control over the business data. The most crucial feature here is remote wipe, meaning the ability to remove business files that have been synced to a device. This is used in situations where an employee loses a mobile device that has sensitive company data on it, or an employee leaves the company and business files need to be removed from his personal devices thanks to the BYOD phenomenon. Many products offer more features than just that however, including control over who has access to shared folders, which types of files can be synced to devices, and more.

5. What kind of learning curve will there be for my employees?

The whole point of an online file sharing solution is making access to data from any location seamless in order to improve productivity. If there is anything that needs to be “learned,” the product will probably never actually be used by employees. From an employee’s perspective, a business solution should seem no different from a consumer solution in terms of being user friendly and intuitive. Employees should not need to change how they work; the product should simply give them easier access to their business files.

Asking these questions should help determine whether a product will make the final round when evaluating secure online file sharing solutions. Of course, other important factors including company history and partners can give you an indication of the stability and trustworthiness of the company and should be taken into consideration as well. But above all else, you need to know whether the solution meets your business needs when making the first cut.

For a more detailed list of features to look for, check out our feature checklist for evaluating business online file sharing solutions.