What is something that has become an everyday part of not only business practices, but our lives in general? If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s file sharing. Between pictures, videos, emails, and so many other things, it has become prevalent in the world today. However, we all know that when something becomes more common and grows in popularity, that also opens a whole new world for cybercriminals to swoop in and exploit.
One of the first things any business can do is to create and implement policies regarding safe file sharing and then train its employees. This is one of the easiest ways to safeguard and ensure files are being shared securely.
Dangers of File Sharing
There are many dangers to file sharing, especially when it is not done safely. Here are three common ways that unsafe file sharing can affect your business:
- Things like malware, viruses, worms, and ransomware can get into your network and spread like wildfire.
- When files are shared with risky or unapproved channels, firewalls and other types of protections are bypassed making networks vulnerable to malicious attacks.
- When data is shared, it can accidentally be sent to the wrong recipients and perpetually exist in a “temporary” shared file that is never deleted, despite being named temporary.
Do’s and Don’ts
Although there are many risks and dangers to file sharing, there are plenty of ways to safely do it too. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts to remember:
- Use a secure platform such as Microsoft Office 365. Collaborations like this are best because they are part of your overall IT organization with the correct permissions implemented.
- Include a method for sending and receiving large files that your network may normally block.
- If you absolutely need to use a file sharing service, use one with a 256-bit AES encryption over SSL. These include services such as OneDrive, SharePoint, and SugarSync just to name a few. With these services, it’s important that there is only one encrypted document or file that is shared amongst teams, departments, etc. That way, when any edits are made to the documents, all authorized users can see the changes in real time.
- A simple punctuation error in an email can send information to the wrong party, and if the email includes confidential or sensitive information, it’s very difficult to retract emails once they’ve been sent.
- Peer-to-peer networking sites such as eDonkey, BitTorrent, etc. are extremely insecure networks and easy ways for cyberattacks to occur.
- Cloud sharing apps such as Dropbox, Box, etc. include some risks and should be avoided if possible.
How to Safely Share Files
When a business is considering a new file sharing platform, they need to establish a few things to make sure all employees are on the same page and to keep things consistent. There should be a specific structure to all shared files and the way they are saved, such as department, subject, date, or whatever makes the most sense for your company. Here are just a few more tips to include when setting up file sharing:
- Only allow administrators to set up folders.
- Keep subfolder levels small to avoid information being hidden (no more than five).
- Create different permission access levels such as “view only”, “contributor”, etc. to allow information to be shared amongst the correct team members without fear of something happening to the files.
- Set up alert notifications for confidential and sensitive information.
- Use hyperlinks or shortcuts to avoid duplicate versions when needing to be saved in multiple departments.
- Have a designated person in your organization to oversee and audit all the information regularly.
- Use a protected link to share files rather than attachments to keep your data protected.
If you have any questions, concerns or would like more tips on file sharing, you can contact Entre Technology Services.