Sharing files is something we all do everyday - chances are, most employees don’t think twice before attaching a file to an email or using a file sharing platform.
But both email and third party solutions bring significant security concerns that can’t be ignored — especially when sensitive data is being transferred.
In this blog, we investigate the security implications of file sharing and the solutions for secure file transfers when sharing data online.
What are the security risks of file sharing?
Some common business security risks of file sharing software include:
- Compliance: Some file sharing solutions aren’t compliant with regional data protection legislation, leaving companies open to legal liabilities and other consequences.
- Reliance on a third party: With most file sharing solutions, companies are giving control of their data to third-parties when it is in transit. As such, transferred data is only secure if the provider has strong security measures in place. We also see many suppliers retaining access to encryption keys, meaning client data isn’t necessarily as secure as they may think.
- Lack of transparency: When employees use file sharing tools outside the company's IT stack, it becomes harder to see exactly which files are being exchanged. This lack of transparency can make it harder to ensure internal policies and external regulations are being followed correctly. The sender doesn’t necessarily have access to their file’s delivery status - including whether it has been received, accessed, forwarded etc…
- File size limits: Outlook limits file sizes to 20MB, and Gmail to 25MB. For larger files, employees must find alternative methods of communication, which can prove particularly difficult for engaging with stakeholders external to their organization, such as patients or clients.
- Lack of human error prevention: File sharing solutions do not provide the necessary functionality to prevent data leaks caused by human error - for example, sending sensitive data to the wrong person. For busy employees working at speed, errors do occasionally happen - which is why it’s important that our tools empower us to protect sensitive data by alerting us to potential mistakes before they occur. And, in the instance of a data incident, employees need to be able to recall messages sent in error - functionality not provided in leading file transfer sites and email clients today.
- Device management: Many companies allow employees to bring their own devices to work, but if these policies are not properly enforced, they can cause security issues. Mixing personal and business data sharing on these devices can be risky, and if the device is lost or stolen, sensitive data can be exposed.
How file sharing services use encryption to keep your data secure
Most file sharing services use encryption to protect the privacy and security of transferred data. This often involves converting the file into a coded format that can only be deciphered with the right key, thereby ensuring that sensitive information such as passwords, personal documents, and financial information is fully protected when in transit. While third-party file sharing services hold these decryption keys — meaning they can access the unencrypted data — our Secure File Transfer solution does not. This provides an additional layer of security and ensures that only the intended recipient can access the information.
While this kind of encryption offers an invaluable layer of protection in the file sharing process, it is far from foolproof. For example, if the link needed to decrypt and access the transferred data is sent via email, then the data is only as secure as the recipient’s email security. If a bad actor gains access to their inbox, or if that link is sent to the wrong person by mistake, then the data security of the transfer is compromised and a leak may occur.
Human error poses another security risk, which is only compounded when employees are required to use ever more tools in their daily workflow. For instance, if an employee needs to open and navigate a new software program whenever they want to share a file, there is a greater risk that they’ll make some kind of mistake. When hundreds or thousands of employees need to do this multiple times a day, that risk grows exponentially.
Employees need solutions which streamline workflows, rather than over complicating them. Sharing files securely should be simple. People should also have total control over attachments, even after sending. Applying multi-factor authentication to files should be standard practice today; as should the ability to revoke access to files, and set expiration periods to limit access.
How Zivver Secure File Transfer addresses these risks
Zivver Secure File Transfer fills in these security gaps, so you can send sensitive files, up to 50TB in size, with ease and peace of mind. In addition to using advanced end-to-end encryption, our file sharing solution uses strict access controls with multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, even if a user’s login credentials are compromised.
And because Zivver offers the ability to share files directly from within the email client, users don’t need to navigate to a separate software tool whenever they need to share a large file. This not only makes the file sharing process more convenient, but it also reduces the risk of human error and makes it easier for employees to stay focused on their work.
Last updated - 24/05/23