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Monday, August 26, 2013

Employers must provide a Dropbox alternative to promote data security

Employers must provide their workers with secure file sharing alternatives to Dropbox, or else they risk experiencing a devastating data breach.

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Today's workers are striving to become increasingly flexible in their work habits. Employees expect to be able to conduct their job responsibilities from home, while traveling and while stationed at other branches. They also want to be able to use their personal smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices for work-related purposes, thus propagating the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.

These trends have greatly increased the need for constant data access. Employees need to be able to leverage corporate documents and other files even when they are not inside the office. Consequently, file sharing programs have become critical for promoting firms' productivity and effectiveness. In particular, Dropbox has gained tremendous popularity among consumers and professionals alike.

However, it is critical that businesses do not sacrifice security in their pursuit for data availability. And simply put, Dropbox is not designed to meet the data protection standards that most organizations must achieve. That is why employers must provide their workers with secure file sharing alternatives to Dropbox, or else they risk experiencing a devastating data breach.

Dropbox woes
Dropbox is, without a doubt, a useful tool for many situations. With this program, people can store a fair amount of information in Dropbox's cloud environment for free, and then access this information at any time from any device with an Internet connection.

This functionality has obvious appeal for both consumers and professionals. But while Dropbox may be ideal for the former group, it is generally unacceptable for the latter. This is because consumer-grade Dropbox does not have robust security built into its design. Anyone using the service is putting himself or herself at risk of experiencing data loss, theft or exposure.

This is particularly problematic for professionals for two reasons. First of all, corporate data will almost always have greater potential value for cybercriminals and other malicious entities than a person's private documents. A business's files may contain intellectual property, customers' sensitive financial information and many other data types that could be leveraged by hackers. The same is not nearly as true for a person's private Dropbox account. This means that the consequences of a data breach are more severe for a business, and it is more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals.

Second, businesses in almost every industry must comply with strict data protection regulations. If a firm is found to have been derelict in this duty, it is likely to face fines and other sanctions. A data breach caused by an employee's use of Dropbox will quite possibly lead to such penalties.

Don't just forbid - replace
Many business leaders, recognizing these risks, have taken the step of forbidding employees from utilizing Dropbox for work-related purposes. However, this step alone is not enough to protect an organization. After all, Dropbox is inarguably a useful tool for many employees, and inevitably some workers will choose convenience over security, even in the face of a corporate mandate to the contrary.

Consequently, the only way for businesses to protect themselves from these risks is to not only forbid the use of Dropbox, but also provide an alternative, secure file sharing solution. Critically, this resource must not only be dependable, but must also be extremely easy to use. If the solution is unwieldy or time-consuming, some workers will eventually become frustrated and instead resort to consumer-grade options, such as Dropbox. If the secure offering is simple and straightforward, though, workers will have no reason to deviate from the more reliable option, thereby offering far greater data security for the company.