Mitigating risky behavior for secure file sharing solutions

Apr 11, 2014

Employee on a Tightrope.jpgIn the current business environment, sharing information has become an integral part of everyday operations, and supervisors must ensure that users have the right tools at their disposal. While there are numerous options for file sharing solutions, there are few that will actually provide the security capabilities and features that organizations need. With more employees bringing in their personal devices for work, protecting sensitive data is becoming substantially more difficult, but an established policy and an enterprise-grade solution will help mitigate risks.

While applications and devices are often seen as the main vulnerability to information security, the true threat comes from users. ComputerWeekly contributor Stephen Hess noted that employees are using insecure methods like email, third-party applications and USB drives to transfer sensitive files. Without data management and governance, IT staff have lower visibility into the location of important information and this increases the chance of lost and stolen data. If gone unchecked, workers will continue to use consumer-grade services and unsafe practices, while putting corporate assets at risk of breaches and manipulation. This could present organizations with significant fines to recover the information and the need to restrategize how users are sharing business files.

The true danger of employee sharing habits
Businesses are beginning to realize the value of their data and are implementing processes that focus more on protecting the sensitive assets. However, employees are still struggling to observe online file sharing best practices, which are presenting considerable risks to company information. According to a recent industry survey by Globalscape, 52 percent of employees use the same password for their accounts and 63 percent have used their personal email or USB drives to transfer confidential files, Baseline Magazine reported.  To make matters worse, 74 percent of participants thought that these practices were approved by IT professionals.

While almost half of respondents have an established policy for how to manage sensitive information, there is still a majority that don’t have a strategy or don’t know if they have one implemented. Although these approaches are harmful to organization data, employees are using them because of their flexibility and easy navigation. This situation may seem like it pits IT security needs against worker demands, but the answer to the problem is simpler than it looks.

“Fortunately, companies do not have to choose between risky behavior and productivity,” Hess pointed out. “Using the right technologies can give employees the convenience, ease of use and speed they need while IT managers retain the control, visibility, security and compliance. It is a win-win situation.”

Creating a secure data environment
More organizations are turning to the cloud and hosted file sharing services to provide a safe environment for business documents. This platform can act as a single space for mobility efforts, data recovery and backup needs. Before this can happen, companies must ensure that their system will be protected from increasingly sophisticated threats. This need extends to data in use when cloud providers maintain it, as the controls should be active throughout the entire lifecycle, according to GCN. Because the documents are in this state, it’s considerably harder to encrypt while still allowing employees to work with the file. The answer to this dilemma has come from using encrypted data in innovative ways. This approach could enable analysis of coded information, which would promote employee productivity without sacrificing the safety of sensitive files.

While secure file sharing once seemed like a far-off goal, organizations can achieve it through leveraging enterprise-solutions and innovative technologies. As more services appear for this need, decision makers will need to consider their requirements and ensure that the system has the features and tools to promote success and maximize benefits.

Category: Data Security