Unsafe file sharing puts business data at risk

Jun 11, 2015

2015-06-11 File Sharing.jpgData breaches seem to be all the rage for hackers these days, as malicious individuals try to infiltrate and compromise sensitive company information left and right. There are several factors that can lead to a security incident of this kind, but unsafe file sharing practices are among the top causes.

In fact, a Ponemon Institute study found that 35 percent of all data breaches come as a result of the “human factor,” according to Business News Daily, where employees or third-party partners are negligent with security practices. This behavior includes using consumer-level or other less protected file sharing platforms, which all but leave the door wide open for cybercriminal intrusion.

“It should be no surprise that Shadow IT, combined with the carelessness of corporate employees, can put company data at risk and lead to dangerous consequences,” noted file sharing industry expert Alex Gorbansky.

However, the Ponemon Institute wasn’t the only group to point out the security risk that sharing business files in an unprotected platform can pose. A survey from Intralinks and Harris Poll found that nearly half – 46 percent – of 308 American IT professionals believed data leaks were occurring within their companies due to employees utilizing unmanaged file sharing programs. Additionally, eSecurity Planet reported that 84 percent noted that free file sharing and syncing platforms were causing security issues in their businesses.

“The characteristics that make consumer file sharing services attractive to employees can spawn government, risk and compliance nightmares for senior executives,” said Larry Hawes, Dow Brook Advisory Services principal and founder. “Most companies, especially those in regulated industries, need to increase their visibility and control over file sharing policies, practices and technologies, while finding a way to maintain employee productivity and satisfaction.”

Encouraging employees to leave unsafe file sharing platforms behind
While providing a secure file sharing platform is critical within any business, administrators must also ensure that their staff members are actually using the program. Shadow IT practices for sharing business files must be stamped out to prevent the compromise of documents containing sensitive company data.

To this end, enterprise leaders should not only show employees how to use the secure file sharing program to make sure they have a full understanding of it, but they should also communicate the risks involved if it is not used. The results of a breach – including the loss of customers, client trust and the associated legal actions and fees – should be common knowledge within the company so that workers understand the consequences of their Shadow IT actions.