Whether its Facebook photos or Twitter musings, sharing has become an integral part of our everyday lives. In the business world; this ‘sharing’ culture is very much the same, thanks to the rise of easy-to-use cloud programs like SharePoint, Google Drive, and Office 365. Work-related files can be sent from one workstation to another without having to carry around a USB flash drive print a stack of documents; or even occupy the same physical location.
But even though the cloud has made; file-sharing almost effortless, organisations still need to approach this proven business solution with some caution. Data is an invaluable asset for any company. At the same time; however, the digital world is plagued with prying eyes and malicious actors who can’t wait to get their hands on valuable company data.
This year over 68 million Dropbox accounts were leaked, which revealed that even one of the most durable cloud file-sharing companies could be breached. These numbers might be enough to discourage cloud users from sharing files online. But if you follow these secure file-sharing tips, you can traverse the cloud without anyone raining on your parade.
Scramble your data
Security will forever be a concern, especially when so many businesses adopt cloud services to store and share files. In fact, a renowned cloud security company; claimed that up to 94% of all Australian organisations are vulnerable to data threats.
So what do you do? Install antivirus software? Strengthen your firewalls? Both data security strategies are perfectly viable. But instead of purely relying on breach prevention strategies; take one step ahead and install protection mechanisms that help secure data after a breach. We are, of course, talking about encryption.
Encryption — or more specifically cloud encryption — is the process of translating data into code that can only be deciphered by the sender and the intended recipient. To read an encrypted file, authorised employees must have a key to turn data back into understandable text. So in the off-chance that a hacker intercepts a file or message in transit, all they’ll see is a page full of gobbledygook.
Look for a cloud services provider that offers best-in-class strong encryption and careful key management services to ensure that your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. It’s also imperative that your chosen provider understands your encryption standard requirements, such as 256-bit AES, as well as your specific cloud environment, whether it’s infrastructure, software, or platform as a service.
Manage password security
When in doubt; setting a unique password — with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols — to restrict access to shared documents can be an effective first line of defence against malicious attacks. Nowadays plenty of services like Dropbox and SugarSync grant users the option to toggle password-protection for private company documents.
The problem, however, comes when most users let their smartphones, laptops, and other mobile devices remember their password. While this may remove the hassle of typing down your password to access documents, it also defeats the purpose of password security. Get into the habit of logging out of the document sharing application when it is not being used. And most importantly, remember to regularly change passwords to keep the bad guys guessing.
Set access permission
As you should be well aware by now, data security shouldn’t hinge on one solution alone. Don’t get us wrong, cloud encryption is a great way to protect sensitive information, but it’s no silver bullet. The truth is, a vast majority of data breaches come from within an organisation.
Employees come and go, new devices are introduced into the workplace, and large amounts of data are generated on the daily. Any unchecked addition (or subtraction) to a company’s cloud ecosystems can potentially become a security threat. And if anything seems out of place, a business must detect and address the problem at a moment’s notice before it turns into a full-blown data security issue.
For this reason, monitoring and access controls need to play an integral role in keeping cloud data safe. Setting access permissions lets IT administrators regulate who has access to what, where from, and what they are allowed to do with it. With Office 365, you can assign different levels of permissions for certain documents. In practice, this means employees can access read-only versions of important forms and documents, while higher-levelled executives have complete access. And with the introduction of machine learning features, Office 365 recognises abnormal habits by users and flags them.
Always connect from a secure location
Despite the importance of previous tips, the security of the files you share depends on where you access your cloud application. Public hotspots like the ones you would see in most coffee shops or parks tend to be unencrypted. With the right tools, any hacker can sneak into an unsecured network, monitor their target’s activity, and eventually steal the login credentials for your cloud account. Just because you have ‘anywhere’ access to data, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re going to share sensitive files online, it’s absolutely imperative that you connect from secure networks.
Use professional services
Some file-sharing solutions may be cheap or even free, but are you sure that’s what your business needs? First of all; the price that users pay for those free services is often reflected in the level of functionality provided. And the built-in privacy and encryption options won’t be up to par when you have to send hundreds of confidential forms and documents via the cloud.
That’s why you should find an enterprise-grade services provider; who installs powerful data encryption services, user access controls, and a secure network to safely share files in the cloud.
Cyber criminals have many cunning tricks up their sleeves; and it’s only right you should have some of your own, too. If secure file-sharing is the problem; then Empower IT has the answer you’ve been looking for. Simply get in touch with us today to get access to reliable cloud solutions, encryption, and the latest version of Office 365.