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How secure is sharing work files over the internet?

19th July 2021 Print

Data is the lifeblood of modern business, and so being able to share files and collaborate with colleagues online is increasingly essential for organizations across every industry.

Of course with horror stories about cybersecurity breaches, data loss and regulator fines being rife, some might be reluctant to make the leap to using web-powered solutions to send mission-critical information from A to B.

So what risks are out there, and how can you go about mitigating them in the name of boosting productivity?

Email is often a weak link

In the era of an ever-increasing need for remote working to become the norm in businesses of all sizes, there are also changing needs when it comes to sharing files. So while previously you might have been content to ping over an email with an important document attached, this is simply not up to the task of meeting modern expectations in terms of either security or convenience.

Instead it is far more sensible for companies to invest in a file sharing server which can act as a central repository for all the data that workers need to use on a daily basis. This meets the needs for secure document transfer as well as making it much simpler for teams of remote workers to embrace collaboration without needing to share the same office space.

The scale of the cloud boosts protection levels

Another thing to note about business-grade file sharing services which are commonplace today is that they are better equipped to protect against the cyber threats that exist than any internal storage setup that businesses would have been reliant upon in a bygone age.

This is all to do with the scale of the operations that cloud storage and file sharing vendors are responsible for orchestrating. Because they serve a large number of enterprise customers, they also have the funding, resources and expertise necessary to shield their hardware and network assets from attacks.

In this respect, sharing files online should be seen as eminently secure, so long as you choose a business-grade package. That is not to say that consumer-grade services are a security risk, but rather that they tend not to be as comprehensively well protected as their enterprise-focused equivalents.

Portable storage is falling out of fashion

Using the internet to share work docs is not a new concept, and for a long time it has co-existed with the practice of adding data to portable storage devices, such as USB memory sticks, in order to transport it and distribute it to colleagues.

From a security perspective, portable storage has a number of issues to be aware of. Aside from the fact that memory sticks are easily mislaid and could allow sensitive info to fall into the hands of malicious third parties, they are also a potential conduit for viruses to make their way onto work devices and internal systems.

In this context, it should be apparent that it is preferable to share files online rather than sticking with older methods, since the security risks are comparatively low if you follow sensible protocols.

Fragmentation is an issue

One final talking point with regards to online file sharing in a business setting is that it makes sense to set a unified policy with regards to the services and solutions that employees are encouraged to use. Not doing this might result in different team members falling back on different platforms, which could leave files scattered hither and thither, which is bad for security and productivity.

Finally, if you simply try to ignore this problem altogether, employees are even more likely to take matters into their own hands, so you have to be proactive and forward-looking rather than keeping your head in the sand.

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