The rise in popularity of consumer file sharing tools has had a massive impact on the enterprise, causing IT departments to have to rethink their security processes and implement new tools to meet demand.
File sharing has come a long way in recent years. It used to be that if we wanted to share digital files we had to set up complex FTP servers or file shares that were not only difficult to set up but also complicated to use. Thanks to the advent of consumer file sharing tools, these problems have mostly gone away. We’ve realised that file sharing doesnt have to be complicated. Technology has become simplified and commoditised and we expect the same of all the tools we use today.
Professionals want the same easy-to-use tools at work as they have at home; the trouble is, consumer file sharing tools weren’t designed for use in the workplace. Since most organisations don’t supply these kind of tools, professionals have begun to use consumer file sharing tools like Dropbox and Google Drive in the workplace. This is a problem for IT departments, who no longer have control over the way files are shared inside and outside the organisation and cannot ensure security of data.
The fact is, corporate IT has been lagging behind in providing the same level of tools that are available for the general public. Expectations have risen, eyes have been opened and people today expect the same level of simplicity in their working lives as they have at home.
What is the problem with consumer file sharing tools?
The primary problem with consumer file sharing tools is the lack of control you have over them. Their infrastructure is usually based on public cloud, so you don’t know where your data is going, which country it’s in, or who has access to it. Furthermore, there’s no visibility of what is being shared and by whom. These things result in significant security and compliance risks that put can businesses in jeopardy, particularly in risk averse industries such as law and finance.
IT departments often attempt to solve the problem by blocking these consumer tools at the firewall. This may prevent staff from using them, but it doesn’t satiate their demand and if they can get around the block, they will. In short, IT has lost control over file sharing. You need to know where this data is going, how to enforce security and compliance policies, how to audit file sharing activity, and how to meet the demands of users and staff for simplicity. You are often juggling demands from customers or clients as well.
So what is the solution?
Organisations need an enterprise-grade alternative to consumer file sharing. They need solutions that meet usability demands while adhering to security and compliance needs of the business. IT departments should be looking at enterprise file sharing solutions that provide you with the control and auditability you require; one that enables you to change settings, controls and defaults so you know what’s being shared and how.
It’s vital to choose a file sharing platform built on infrastructure you can trust: secure, private cloud. This way you know you won’t be putting your or your clients’ data at risk. Choose a provider which offers a choice of hosting locations; this is important when tackling data sovereignty issues, for instance non-US companies may prefer not to host their data within the US or by a US provider as this puts their data at risk of seizure by the US government under the Patriot Act.
Another benefit of some enterprise file sharing solutions is their single tenancy architecture, which means that you can configure and customise the application to work how you want to to. This gives you the control you need over your own platform and means you can tweak it to meet the exact needs of your organisation. You should be able to control documents outside of your organisation too, once they’re left the corporate firewall. These features include file link expiry, and sophisticated document rights management.
Finally, when it comes to data security, the best enterprise grade file sharing providers will be certified; both for their data centres and their information security. Look out for ISO27001 certifications to make sure that the organisation that hosts your information can be trusted to treat your data properly and look after it.
Thanks to enterprise solutions, far from being problem, corporate file sharing is a solution that can solve many issues at once. As long as companies select the right platform for the job, they are guaranteed security of their data inside and outside the firewall, and can even provide the service as a value-add to clients. Corporate file sharing has come a along way, and will continue to do so as long as businesses keep up.