Passwords aren't good enough for data security

Feb 20th, 2014 / Category: Managed File Transfer

Digital resources are invaluable for companies, so corporate systems need to balance accessibility with security. Employees must be able to make use of data and share documents to collaborate on projects. Particularly in an environment that increasingly involves remote and mobile working, team members often use their own devices to complete tasks on the go. With ever-growing concerns over cyber security and information privacy, companies must prioritize convenient solutions for secure file sharing.

Passwords can only do so much
Many corporate systems rely on passwords to keep data protected from outside eyes. While passwords are certainly better than nothing, they're not enough to form a comprehensive secure environment when it's crucial to keep information safe. Even with policies that advocate best practices, such as creating unique passwords for each site or account, businesses rely on their employees to adhere to these recommendations. Further, recent data breaches have shown that passwords are far too easy for hackers to acquire.

In fact, there are a number of reasons that relying on passwords is not a smart strategy for enterprise resources.

  • People keep their passwords in plain sight. According to Harvard Business Review, millennials are even more likely to store their passwords somewhere highly visible or to keep them in an unprotected Word document or on a USB drive. This means that password-based security measures work only as long as no one takes note of the password or steals the portable drive.
  • The most commonly used passwords are easy to crack. Entrepreneur reported that 80 percent of security breaches are caused by weak passwords. If these passwords are the primary security defense, the hacker gains access to all of the information by discovering the log-in information.
  • Password policies can sometimes make things worse. Password changes are one of the most frequent IT help requests, Entrepreneur explained, taking up valuable time for IT staff. Additionally, forcing employees to frequently change their passwords is ineffective if they record their credentials in an accessible place.

Security doesn't have to be complicated
Organizations need secure file sharing solutions that provide more protection than simple password logins. However, they're only effective if they're implemented and maintained well and if they're intuitive enough that employees will use them. Harvard Business Review noted that millennials in particular are very prone to email company documents to their personal accounts so that they can work remotely. They take this action  - despite being more aware than many of their older counterparts of the risks and policies - because they place such a high value on having data when they need it, where they need it. It's only by providing them with equally convenient alternatives that they'll be disinclined to remove information from the secure network.

Further, many companies are turning to cloud-based services to store and manage their information resources. As a scalable option, the cloud is cost-effective and flexible for changing business needs. The cloud can be a valuable resource for keeping information safe and restoring operations after incidents, but it comes with its own security concerns. According to Entrepreneur, many IT teams don't fully understand cloud security. What's worse, they often disregard their own security policies, Harvard Business Review mentioned. To take advantage of cloud-based data solutions without putting information at risk, companies can use cloud file transfer protocol (cloud FTP) services to manage their system. 

Managed file transfer solutions, whether in the cloud or on-site, can consolidate servers to better manage information movement and security. Intuitive end-user programs help to improve employee efficiency and productivity while giving workers tools that are just as convenient as less secure shortcuts. Although passwords will continue to be a component of system security for the time being, they work best when supplemented with high-end secure systems that keep documents within a protected environment.