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On-Premises File Sharing vs. the Cloud

What is cloud sharing?

Sharing data using an off-premises storage and transfer tool is convenient, easy to use, and fast. Just drop your files into a folder on your desktop, and those files magically appear in your "cloud" account, available to anyone with whom you've shared it. Those with whom you are sharing need only a web browser to access the files—no matter which operating system they are using. This user-driven file collaboration is great for sharing innocuous files, such as JPGs that a soccer mom wants to share with the other moms.

But what if those files are important insurance documents that contain the birth dates and Social Security numbers of your precious soccer stars?

Cloud sharing is not secure

No one is more aware of data breaches than cloud-service providers. Most recently, Adobe, Apple's iCloud, Dropbox, Snapchat, and others who rely on cloud access and storage have had not only passwords stolen, but also personal data—despite assurances from providers that their cloud is secure. Services assure users that data is encrypted in the cloud; however, the keeper of the encryption certificates is often a third-party provider. Intruders tend to target failures such as poor key management, lack of end-user training, or a failure of physical security (e.g., leaving your laptop unattended in a public place).

The US Government Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a number of fines for breaches, including one of $48 million to a hospital at which 6,800 individuals had their personal medical data exposed to the Internet when a physician attempted to deactivate a personally owned server connected to a shared network.

On-premises sharing is more secure

An on-premises solution provides a secure alternative to off-premises cloud-based sharing with:

  • Configurable, enforceable read/write permissions
  • Integration with existing security infrastructure
  • Authentication servers like Active Directory and two-factor authentication
  • Local SSO controls
  • Local control of encryption certificates
  • Secure, controlled, local storage behind company firewalls and gateways
  • IT control and oversight

The best of both worlds

The best solution is one that empowers users to share their content easily with others within their organization, and to invite external users to participate, while also giving the IT administrators full visibility and ultimate authority over security of the content. Hosting the files on-premises rather than in the cloud removes risk and leverages the existing corporate infrastructure security investment. The solution retains the "feel" of the cloud as end users share and access files via a web browser, preserving the fast, easy workflows of cloud sharing.