Everything You Need to Know About Secure File Sharing
Updated: Jun 22
Nearly all businesses depend on sharing information with internal and external parties. File-sharing helps to accommodate this universal need. However, any data transmission has the potential for a security breach, so how do you make sure that this essential business function is not also your greatest security liability? The Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) at Flagler Technologies will show you some of the secure file and cloud data sharing fundamentals.
What is File Sharing and Why Does Your Business Need It
The concept of a file is not complicated. It is a type of document that contains coded information. This information can be text, spreadsheets, a computer program, media, etc. One of the most common ways to send a file is as an email attachment, but because this really only facilitates one-party access, many apps and programs use file sharing to transfer the information because it’s more efficient.
File sharing allows multiple users to access a document that is stored at a central location. If you’ve ever shared access to a Google Doc or worked on a shared document, you’re familiar with file sharing. This is a much more efficient way to share information than uploading and downloading files locally, as you would with an email attachment.
Filesharing allows multiple users to work with a file remotely without having to wait for inefficient data transfers. But there is an everpresent concern that the information contained in the files can be accessed by an unauthorized user, which could result in nefarious third parties gaining access to proprietary data, financial information, or the credentials necessary to access other systems.
Pros and Cons of File Sharing
Most businesses consider file-sharing to be essential. Here are a some of the pros and cons of using file-sharing:
Large batches of data can be shared over a network or through the cloud, which means that it can be accessed via the internet.
File sharing enables team collaboration from remote locations with both internal and external parties.
File-sharing reduces the requirement for an online central file server.
It may require additional bandwidth, which can increase costs.
There is an increased risk of breaches or malware from an external party.
The business can lose some control over what happens with the data.
Most businesses recognize the value of file sharing to be worth some minimal risk, but there are measures a business IT department or MSSP can take to help mitigate those risks.
How to Choose a File-Sharing System or Program
You can take several actions to better secure your files. Here are a few things that you should look for in a file-sharing service or application.
Any system you use should guarantee end-to-end encryption (E2EE). What this means is that only those holding the access key will receive a decoded version of the file. If your connection is intercepted, the third party will receive unreadable, encrypted data. Although it seems like end-to-end encryption should be an industry standard, that’s not necessarily the case. Furthermore, many cloud storage services retain the encryption keys for data stored on their servers, meaning that they also have access to your data. Whether or not this is acceptable for your company depends largely on the type of data you’re sharing, the assurances you’ve made to other parties, your trust in the hosting platform, and your tolerance for risk.
If you’re still unsure about the benefits of placing files on the cloud, this may clear up some of the confusion. The cloud merely refers to being able to access your information via the internet, as opposed to establishing a hardwire connection to the servers. The information is still on a physical server, of course. Whether you have a wifi or ethernet connection, you’re able to access your systems. If you have any remote employees, the cloud is absolutely necessary. Any file-sharing product you’re considering should have cloud capabilities.
Compatibility With Other Products
The best cloud-based file-sharing platforms are compatible with other apps, programs, and services. You want your user experience to flow without errors and delays, which can reduce productivity. Read the reviews or have your IT department or MSSP recommend a user-friendly and secure service.
Is Cloud File Sharing Secure?
Secure file sharing is possible, but that doesn’t mean that you can take it for granted or that you should impart an undue amount of trust to the cloud service you’re using. There are a number of things that could create gaps in your security. Hiring an MSSP can help you head off security gaps in your file-sharing systems. The following are a few of the measures you can and should take to help protect your data security:
Use End-to-End Encryption – Even if you choose a cloud service that retains the encryption keys, other third parties will not be able to intercept and decode your data sharing. Without EE2E, you’re only safe until someone realizes that you’re using an unsecured connection.
Don’t Share Files With Unauthorized Parties – Once you provide a party with access to your files, they will have that information until you revoke access. No unauthorized parties should have access to your data, and you should revoke access or change the passcode whenever you need to better secure your information.
Use Complex Passwords – Employees are notorious weak links for cyber security. If someone breaches an employee’s credentials, they gain access to anything that the employee has access to. Require strong passwords and routine password changes to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to have long-term access to your system.
Don’t Accept Downloads From Unknown Parties – Many third-party software downloads contain viruses and other malware. Do not open suspicious files or accept files from unknown parties.
Install Strong Malware Protection – Many malware programs have been identified and can be blocked by malware prevention programs. By catching these malware programs when they’re introduced, you can prevent data breaches and stop the spread of harmful material.
Contact an MSSP to Review Your Cloud Security
Even the best file-sharing platforms carry security risks. Contact a managed security service provider, like Flagler Technologies, to discuss how you can better secure your file-sharing security today.