Data security is undoubtedly among most business leaders' highest priorities. Senior management and executives realize that inadequate data protection can pose an existential threat to their organizations, as a breach can result in a tarnished reputation, major fines and tremendous competitive disadvantages.
As decision-makers are increasingly coming to realize, secure file transfers are a critical tool in these efforts. These tools enable employees to send and receive sensitive business-related information freely and without risk of causing a breach. Considering the information-based nature of many of today's positions, low-risk file transfers are essential for ensuring employees can perform their job responsibilities safely.
However, it's not just the rank-and-file employees who need these tools - senior managers and executives themselves also require easy-to-use secure file transfer options. In fact, a recent survey found that these high-ranking personnel are among the most significant threats to a company's overall data security, emphasizing the importance of such solutions even further.
The survey, conducted by KRC Research and sponsored by global investigations and risk services firm Stroz Friedberg, included input from nearly 800 information workers in the United States. The study found that these workers believe that corporate data is at risk and that senior managers are among the worst offenders when it comes to high risk electronic behaviors.
According to the survey, 87 percent of senior managers indicated that they regularly upload work-related data to a personal cloud or email account. Among all respondents, just shy of 75 percent engaged in this behavior. Furthermore, 58 percent of senior managers admitted to having sent sensitive information to the wrong person on at least one occasion. This figure stood at only 25 percent among all workers.
Of the survey's participating senior managers, 45 percent said that they themselves are responsible for protecting their organizations from the threat of cyberattackers. However, more than half of these same respondents graded corporate America's response to cyberthreats as C, D or F.
All told, only 42 percent of employees said they had received information sharing training.
The study's findings are significant for several reasons. First and foremost, these results indicate that companies' senior management are engaging in many dangerous behaviors that are putting those organizations at risk. Perhaps most notable is the percentage of high-level workers using consumer-grade file sharing solutions. Such resources, while convenient, are simply not secure enough to justify when it comes to sensitive corporate data.
Second is the fact that these senior management professionals are likely among the business leaders who are making the key decisions regarding their firms' data security and handling policies. If they are not engaging in best practices, it is unlikely that lower ranking employees will, as well. After all, many employees take their behavioral cues from their superiors.
The right response
This state of affairs demands a course correction from senior management personnel engaged in unsafe file handling practices. Failing to make a change will almost certainly cause these individuals' businesses to eventually suffer a data breach, along with all its unavoidable consequences.
More specifically, there are two key steps that high-ranking decision-makers should take to reduce these risks. First, they must implement high-quality, easy-to-use secure file transfer solutions. Ease of use is critical in this capacity. If the options in place are time-consuming or confusing, employees at every level will be tempted to resort to less secure but more convenient consumer-grade options.
Next, firms' leaders must emphasize the importance of using these secure solutions. Without regular reminders and encouragement, it is likely that best practices will not be followed, once again opening up the possibility of data loss or exposure.