Why Cloud File-Sharing Is Risky and What You Can Do



Keeping documents up-to-date and ensuring that colleagues have the right version has always been difficult. The problem has only grown worse with geographically dispersed teams and the increasing use of mobile devices. Cloud-based file-sharing serves such as Dropbox, EverNote and YouSendIt have emerged to provide a simple (and free) solution.

With cloud-based file-sharing, users can access documents anytime, anywhere from any Internet-connected device. It enables employees to easily share documents with individuals outside the company firewall, and is particularly useful for files that are frequently updated or too large to email.

But organizations are justifiably concerned about the security threats associated with cloud-based file-sharing, including data loss, theft or regulatory compliance violations. Consider these results from a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive:

  • 51 percent of employees think that cloud-based file-sharing is secure.
  • 38 percent have transferred sensitive files via an unapproved file-sharing service at least once; 10 percent have done it six or more times.
  • 46 percent say that it would be easy to take sensitive business documents to another employer.
  • 27 percent of users of cloud-based file-share services report still having access to documents from a previous employer.

According to the “Content in the Cloud” report by the Association for Information and Image Management, 45 percent of companies have official policies regulating the use of “consumer-grade” file-sharing and collaboration systems. Although few organizations ban them outright, IBM made news a couple of years ago when it prohibited its 400,000 employees from using these systems as well as other public cloud services.

Not every organization has the same needs and requirements as IBM. But any business that stores sensitive information should be aware of the very real risks associated with cloud-based file-sharing.

Security is not the only issue — organizations should also be concerned about losing control over valuable information assets. Online file sharing is a challenge for IT groups because they have to manage more data stored outside the data center. And for organizations that must comply with government and industry regulations, public cloud-based storage solutions are generally inappropriate.

Simply banning the use of cloud-based file-sharing isn’t the answer. Employees need to easily access and share files and will adopt tools that allow them to do that — with or without the approval of IT.

The best way for organizations to circumvent the use of cloud-based file-sharing is to provide employees with an alternative. A business-grade file-sharing solution can provide the same convenience and flexibility as consumer-grade options while providing security, visibility, manageability and control.

When choosing an enterprise-class file-sharing solution, there are a number of things to consider:

  • Employee work styles and company culture. The file-sharing solution should enhance collaboration, streamline processes, and extend to customers, business partners and other third parties as appropriate.
  • Existing content and collaboration systems. The file-sharing solution may need to integrate with these tools to ensure smooth workflows as well as security, privacy and regulatory compliance.
  • Deployment, administration and management. Because file-sharing solutions are deployed to most if not all employees, administration, management and support need to be as efficient as possible.

Atlantic-IT.net offers a business-grade file-sharing solution that balances ease-of-use with security and regulatory compliance requirements. Let us help you eliminate the risks associated with consumer-grade platforms while providing your staff with a convenient means of sharing and accessing files.