How to implement secure file sharing for your business
File sharing is an integral part of the modern business landscape. Companies are increasingly international endeavours, and remote working has created thousands of miniature workplaces. With teams often using a mixture of company and personal devices to accomplish their work in a variety of locations, businesses need a way to securely share files between employees.
Employing secure file sharing within your business means choosing the right service, but it also means changing attitudes and approaches. Many common ways that we share files are insecure, and can pose a significant threat to the integrity of your data. Here then is a quick rundown of secure file sharing: what it means, why it’s important, and how to implement it in your organisation.
What is file sharing?
Files are shared in workplaces every day. This might be receiving an invoice document, sharing a presentation to a colleague, or uploading video files for your marketing team to edit. Any file that you move between devices is an example of file sharing, even if you are sharing that file with yourself, such as moving it from your computer to your laptop.
There are many ways that files and documents could be shared within your company. This includes:
- By email;
- On a cloud service like Microsoft 365 or Google Drive;
- Over bluetooth or AirDrop;
- On removable USB storage devices;
- Via peer-to-peer networks.
What are the risks of file sharing?
Some file sharing is relatively low risk. FIle sharing over a local network (LAN) for instance involves connecting to computers that are already trustworthy by virtue of being on that network, such as computers within the workplace. That doesn’t guarantee that the files you share are safe, but if you only ever created and shared files within this network, there would be little to no risk involved.
Of course, this isn’t how most networks function. By connecting to the internet, you’re potentially exposing yourself to dangerous files which could put your data at risk. Company files can often contain sensitive or private information, whether that’s customer details, private communiques or financial data. Should this information be compromised in any way, you could not only lose that data, but potentially see it leaked or held to ransom by cybercriminals.
File sharing isn’t just about other people downloading your files, though. Downloading dodgy files from file sharing services could lead to your device or network being compromised. An attacker could gain access into the company network, infecting company devices with malware and stealing entire troves of data. They could even use ransomware to lock out multiple systems until you pay them for the password.
How to implement secure file sharing
While there will always be some risk attached to file sharing, there are ways to ensure that both the files you share and the way you share them are secure. Like most aspects of cybersecurity, this means changing people’s behaviour as well as the software and services you use.
To prevent a costly data breach from taking place, or having your devices becoming infected with malware, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to stay safe when sharing files in the workplace. You should always ensure that:
- Sensitive or personal information is only shared with the right people. Using an enterprise file sharing solution such as Drive can ensure that you’re only sharing files with recognised accounts within that environment.
- Wipe data from USB removable devices after use. USB drives should generally be avoided, and when used, should be formatted before transferring only the files that are needed. This will ensure that nothing untoward hitches a ride on your USB stick or hard drive, and ends up infecting your work network.
- Create a strong password. Set a complex password that is unique and complex in terms of password length and character type. The best way to do this is to create a memorable passphrase consisting of several words strung together, with some unique characters scattered throughout.
- Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication protects your account from hackers by requiring a higher barrier to login. With 2FA enabled, you will receive a code sent to your phone, email, or authenticator app after entering your password. When you enter it, you will be able to access your files.
- Encrypt sensitive documents if that option is provided. Encryption protects your data when someone else uses your device, preventing them from accessing it even if your account password is compromised. If your device is hacked or stolen, encryption can give you peace of mind.
- Only share sensitive and personal information when it is necessary to do so. If it doesn’t need to be in an email or a file, don’t share it! The same rules that apply to social media also apply in a business context – be mindful of what you put online.
File sharing undoubtedly speeds up projects and workflows. But without extra precautions, your data can be put at risk. Secure file sharing improves your team’s workflows and keeps your files secure, ensuring that you can work freely and with complete peace of mind.
If you are ever in doubt about your cybersecurity provisions or need more information about secure file sharing, it’s always best to speak to a professional. For further guidance on protecting your sensitive and personal information, don’t hesitate to contact the team at Sota today.