Top 5 tips for secure file transfers in the public sector

File sharing tips

File sharing tips

Within the public sector, employees regularly share information and data with their colleagues in the form of file transfers. It’s hard to fathom the sheer volume of sensitive data that public sector institutions pass around daily. From contact details to medical records, to policy information and reports, the list is endless. However, according to Zivver’s Opinion Matters survey of the UK public sector, only 39.7% of all respondents have a secure file transfer system in place. With over 56% of public sector institutions preferring to use file transfer as a means of sharing confidential information, this is a striking concern. To add to this, data leak frequency in the public sector is very common as 82% of respondents said their organisation had experienced at least one data leak in the past 12 months, while 73% stated three or more.

So, to reduce the risk of falling victim to a data leak and its consequences, follow these 5 tips on transferring files securely.

Tip 1: Avoid using third-party sites

Organisations that are devoid of a file transfer system often use third party websites to upload and send their files. The risk with such a platform is that they are not well protected. They lack the advanced and up-to-date security solutions necessary for a secure file transit. As a result, sensitive information is at risk of falling into the wrong hands and this could have harmful implications on your organisations.

Tip 2: Additional security barriers

To ensure that files are safe in transit, organisations should adopt services with extra security barriers including two password authentication functions and end-to-end encryption. These essential features allow only intended participants to gain access to a file. For example, if an employee accidentally left their laptop or phone on a train, can your organisation’s current file transfer service ensure that strangers are unable to obtain sensitive files?

A trusted service where you know your information will be sent securely can give your employees, clients and stakeholders more confidence in your organisation.

Tip 3: ‘Recall’ file service

People are human and therefore mistakes are unavoidable. However, accidentally pressing send to the wrong person or sending the wrong file could be like pressing the ‘big red button’, particularly when it comes to government institutions and agencies that own highly confidential data. This then leads to questions such as, who are you putting at risk? What could be the potential fallout of such a mistake?

A secure file transfer system should enable you to simply recall files so that you can prevent a potential data leak. Human error is inevitable, but data leaks don’t have to be.

Tip 4: Usability is key

Usability is instrumental to security. An easy-to-use and intuitive service will most certainly increase adoption rates of security measures. A key issue with many file transfer systems is that data protection can only be achieved through behavioural changes or additional user actions. For instance, logging on to a third-party website or manually activating security measures on an existing service. This is both time consuming and tedious.

Instead adopt a service that seamlessly blends into existing ways of working and does not disrupt employee workflow. It is important to adopt a platform that modifies and adapts to employee working habits.

Additionally, it is important to recognise that standard email platforms generally only allow file transfers of up to 25 MB. For organisations that send larger files, find a service that can cater to your institution’s needs, otherwise you risk reverting back to an unprotected third-party site.

The key message to take away here is that increased usability promotes increased security.

Tip 5: Be proactive

It is important for the public sector to be proactive in their security efforts and to take charge in this space. By doing so, strong cybersecurity foundations can be established and continually built upon. Instead of dealing with security issues in an ad hoc or reactive manner, or only once the damage has been done, stay ahead of the curve and implement an efficient cyber security platform that utilises the latest and greatest technology.

See how your file transfer security can be simplified with Zivver, by downloading this product sheet.


Written by

Kate O'Neill

Originally published on May 6, 2021

Last update on May 6, 2021