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Corporate Data at Risk Due to Insecure File Sharing

How conscious are you of data safety? Perhaps the recent exposure of government spying has made you more aware that data stored online is never going to be one hundred percent secure. There’s always room for human error, government invasion or malicious access. However, while you might be aware of the risks about storing data on cloud services, have you thought about file sharing?

A recent survey carried out by GlobalSCAPE, Inc. of more than 500 professionals found that more than 63% of employees had used their personal email accounts to send secure work documents in the past 12 months. Of these employees, 74% of them thought that the companies they work for would approve of this type of file sharing.

Further research shows that, in the past year, 63% of employees have used remote storage devices, like USB or external drives, to transfer sensitive work files. Also, 45% have used popular cloud sites like Dropbox and Box to share work files.

James Bindseil, president of GlobalSCAPE, a developer of secure information exchange solutions, said, “Millions of employees are actively using consumer-grade tools, like personal email, social media, and file sharing sites, to move confidential work files every day. While the intent is typically harmless, these actions can have serious security and compliance ramifications.”

The reason these statistics are a problem is that the channels used for transfer are not secure. It’s in no way uncommon for email accounts be to be breached or for external storage to go missing. If someone was maliciously trying to access company data then this type of insecure transfer is only beneficial to them.

GlobalSCAPE found that 80% of employees use their personal email to transfer work files at least once a month. The worrying thing is that nearly a third of these people know that their personal emails have been hacked before, yet they still continue the practice.

What can be done about this? One method is to educate employees on proper practices. The survey found that 47% believe their employers have policies for sensitive file sharing, almost a third said there were none and 22% weren’t sure.

The reasons that a lot of these employees gave for their file sharing methods were that it was more convenient to use a system that they knew well, that the company system was troublesome sometimes and that their company system doesn’t offer mobile support.

Enterprises need to ensure that their systems are up-to-date, are efficient and cater to what employees need. If they begin using outside tools to share sensitive work data then something is going wrong. All employees need to be versed in secure data sharing practices. “Speed, simplicity, and mobile access are critical,” said Bindseil.

“The information-sharing needs of today's workforce are rapidly evolving, and most organizations are failing to keep up,” said Bindseil. “Employees need and expect instant access to information, and the ability to send and store files at the press of a button. When internal technology and tools come up short, employees will find a workaround.”

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