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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top 3 risks of consumer-grade box file sharing options

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File sharing is a critical function for businesses of all kinds. Firms in every industry and of all sizes must regularly send and receive files between employees as well as to clients and other external organizations. These exchanges need to be fast and, critically, secure. If this is not the case, the business will be at risk of suffering a potentially devastating data breach.

Unfortunately, this is a lesson many firms have learned the hard way. And while there are many different contributing factors, one of the most frequent causes of such incidents is employee use of consumer-grade box file sharing options. While Dropbox and similar products are excellent tools for personal distribution of and access to files, they simply lack sufficient data protection measures to effectively protect sensitive corporate data. Dedicated secure file sharing solutions, on the other hand, can keep files safe at all times without posing a burden to employees.

Here are three of the biggest risks inherent to corporate use of consumer-grade box sharing options.

1. Cybercriminals
As the news frequently highlights, cybercriminals, including hackers, are a serious threat to any company that regularly handles sensitive, valuable information. Cybercriminals are constantly evolving the strategies and tools they use to illegally access businesses' resources, as these assets can prove extremely valuable. Not only can cybercriminals benefit directly from these thefts, but they can also resell intellectual property and customer data to competitors and other organizations. As more cybercriminals realize these opportunities, firms must become even more vigilant when it comes to protecting their corporate information.

Consumer-grade box file sharing tools are simply not sufficient for this task. Dedicated hackers can easily penetrate the relatively minor security tools featured on these programs. Consequently, any company whose employees use these tools to share valuable data may become the victim of a targeting data breach, hurting its ability to compete and damaging its reputation among potential and existing customers.

2. Remaining logged in
Another basic, yet serious, problem with many consumer-grade box file sharing solutions is that they lack a number of necessary security safeguards.

For example, say that an employee accesses corporate files via such a tool from his or her tablet. This employee then, in a moment of absent-mindedness, forgets this mobile device in a taxi.

A consumer-grade file sharing solution will often not feature automatic sign-off protection. This means that anyone who found the tablet would still be able to access any and all corporate files, thereby potentially causing a data breach.

A secure file sharing solution, on the other hand, should have protections in place which take into account this possibility and will automatically sign out users after a period of inactivity, thereby offering further protection against employees' inadvertent errors and negligence.

3. Mixing business and personal accounts
Another of the biggest issues associated with consumer-grade file sharing options is the simple fact that users will often interweave their personal and business accounts, rather than creating and strictly maintaining distinct accounts for the differing kinds of documents.

This is problematic for several reasons. Perhaps most obviously, mixing together casual private documents and sensitive corporate information presents many chances for the user to make a mistake, accessing or sending the wrong files to the wrong people. 

Additionally, firms may be at risk of violating regulatory standards, as many industries have strict rules in place for how client data is treated. Intermixing business and personal accounts in this capacity could very possibly violate such rules, leading to fines and other costly sanctions.