Most Secure File Sharing Options for Enterprise & Compliance
Looking for the most secure file sharing options? Here are the options, what to look for, how to compare options, and which is best for your enterprise.
What is secure file sharing? Secure file sharing is privately sending or receiving data or files from internal employees and external customers. This type of transfer will protect the information from being shared with unauthorized users or hackers and ensure confidentiality.
What Are Different Types of File Sharing?
While file transfer and storage have clear definitions, they also work through several methods that are more or less secure (which can impact how they affect compliance in enterprise organizations):
- Email and USB sharing: It goes without saying, but many companies still rely on stone-age tools like email and removable media to share files. This works on a small scale but is definitely not a best practice for data-driven companies. This is especially true for businesses that deal with PII or PHI data that requires specific security controls.
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP): This protocol is almost as old as the internet itself, and supports fast file transfers between two computers. Any computer can send and receive files over FTP so long as they have access to each other through a networked connection. While it’s a common transfer method, it’s not secure. It includes no end-to-end encryption and transmits data clear over the Internet. Alternatively, users that need actual security for file transfers utilize either FTP with SSL (FTPS) or SSH FTP (SFTP), depending on their needs.
- Cloud storage and sharing: Consumers and businesses both use cloud storage solutions to keep files safe and support collaboration and access. These platforms typically have built-in file sharing capabilities that include secure sharing and authorization controls.
- Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Sharing: P2P file sharing found popularity in the 1990s and 2000s with networks like LimeWire, Napster, and Kazaa. Many of these were built with at least the semblance of legitimate sharing, but quickly evolved (or were purpose-built for) sharing copyrighted material like music and movies. This category also includes BitTorrent, a decentralized and rapid sharing protocol used for content distribution.
- Managed file transfer (MFT): MFT is an offshoot of secured file transfer. Whereas secure transfer maintains security for file transfers over public network, MFT adds additional data visibility, security, automation, and compliance features to support enterprise transfer needs.
What Are the Risks Involved With File Sharing?
While sharing a simple file like a document seems harmless, sharing files across an enterprise or a larger network like the Internet comes with a set of risks and challenges that businesses will have to consider.
- Security. One of the biggest risks of sharing files online is security. Hackers can intercept transmissions, listen to sharing connections, or break into file servers used to share across an organization. This is a major problem for any organization, but especially so for one that works in regulated industries like healthcare, finance, or government contracting.
If not using a secured file transfer and storage solution, you run the risk of introducing malware and other malicious programs into your network. At the very least, you’ll leave your organization exposed to potentially dangerous files that you can’t trace or track.
- Compliance. Most security regulations require some form of encryption for file transfer and storage. More complex ones, like HIPAA, will also require some sort of capability to trace file management and track users in the system, at least so far as they are using those files.
Conversely, if you don’t have a secure system in place, your business will be out of compliance. Operating outside of compliance can, and usually will, include severe penalties including heavy fines and loss of ability to do business within that industry.
If your business works in a regulated industry, having secure sharing tools will be a must.
- Lack of Data Transparency. Since many secured file sync and sharing solutions include features like user authentication and other security controls, you can also get a view of how users are interacting with files in a system. With a secure system, you can trust that users are legitimate and that access is controlled, which means that you can provide transparency across the system.
What Are Some File Sharing Security Risks Manufacturing Organizations Face?
File sharing is a common practice in many manufacturing organizations. It is an important business tool that allows manufacturers to securely share and collaborate on design files. However, there are some security risks associated with file sharing that need to be taken into consideration.
First, unauthorized access to files is a serious risk. If a file is not protected properly, it can easily be accessed by anyone who has the right file sharing credentials. File sharing systems should be configured to require a password or other form of two-factor authentication to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to the files. Additionally, it is important to use file sharing tools that encrypt data in transit, to ensure that files are not easily accessed or tampered with.
Second, malware and viruses can be spread through file sharing. Without the proper security measures in place, it can be easy for malicious software to be unknowingly downloaded and installed on company computers. To protect against this, antivirus software should be run on all computers and any files shared should be scanned for viruses before they are opened.
Third, inadvertent data leakage can be a problem. Data leakage can occur when a sensitive file is shared with the wrong person or group, or if the file is not protected properly. It is important to educate employees on the importance of protecting sensitive files, and to ensure that all files shared are properly secured.
Finally, it is important to be aware of insider threats. Employees who have access to file sharing systems may be tempted to misuse their privileges and share sensitive files with competitors or other malicious actors. It is important to create policies that limit employee access to files, as well as to monitor employee activity related to file sharing to identify any potential threats.
Overall, with the right security measures in place, file sharing can be a powerful business tool. However, it is important for manufacturers to be aware of the security risks associated with file sharing and to take steps to protect against them.
What to Look for in a File Sharing Service
Not all transfer platforms are created equal. There are several features covering use, access, and security, that any business should look at before deciding about whether or not to use them
Features to look for:
- Access controls, including advanced user permissions and system-wide user management.
- Automation controls, including workflow automation, communication and logging automation, and batch file transfers during off-hours. Automation can also work hand-in-hand with security, integration, and access controls.
- Security controls, including advanced end-to-end encryption that meets or exceeds any standards required in your industry. Also consider any sharing solution that integrates with larger security automation and risk management tools.
- Compliance. Different industries call for different compliance frameworks. Look for a sharing service that can demonstrate in a given compliance framework like HIPAA of FedRAMP.
- Robust authentication features, including multifactor and/or biometric authentication.
- Unlimited transfers and file sizes to support large batch-file processing or automated file transfers across your entire organization.
- Integration with multiple devices, including mobile devices where users can access files on the go without sacrificing security.
Encryption for File Sharing Systems
Encryption is a powerful tool for secure file sharing. It helps protect data by scrambling the contents of a file so that it can only be read by someone with the encryption key. This means that if your file is intercepted in transit, the data contained within it will be unreadable. Another benefit of encryption is that it can help ensure that only authorized parties have access to the data. This helps prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive information contained within a file. Additionally, encrypting files helps ensure that data is not altered in any way during transmission, which can help prevent malicious actors from manipulating or corrupting data. All in all, encryption provides an additional layer of security for file sharing systems and should be strongly considered.
The consequences of not using encryption for file sharing can be severe. Without encryption, files are vulnerable to interception and unauthorized access. This means that sensitive information contained within the file could be accessed or stolen by malicious actors. Additionally, if files are not encrypted, then any changes made to the file during transmission have the potential to corrupt or damage it. Not only can this lead to data loss, but it could also potentially cause malicious damage to other systems. Finally, without encryption, companies and organizations could be in violation of various industry or governmental regulations, resulting in hefty fines or other legal action.
What Sets Kiteworks File Sync and Sharing Apart
Kiteworks file sharing capabilities give you security and ease of use across four priorities:
- Security and Compliance: Kiteworks file sharing and cloud services use industry-standard encryption usable in almost any regulatory situation. This includes integrated cloud services to share files in VDRs or through secure cloud and secure email sharing. These services offer services to support stringent compliance demands for file access and protection on top of useful features like automation and analytics.
- Automation: Workflow streamlining and automatic notifications are a critical part of enterprise workflows, and Kiteworks automates common tasks like uploads, downloads, and commenting/logging/reporting. Also includes record keeping as part of automatic compliance processes for regulatory protocols like FedRAMP.
- Usability: Kiteworks doesn’t get in the way of work. Employees in your organization can easily share files through desktop or mobile devices without having to sacrifice their ability to collaborate. More importantly, they can easily and securely work with clients and other external teams without breaking compliance or their workflow.
- Visibility: Kiteworks brings complete data visibility across an entire organization, which is imperative for data-driven enterprise clients. Furthermore, that visibility is integrated into necessary compliance, sharing, and reporting functions.
- Integration with Critical Enterprise Apps: Kiteworks brings top-notch security and file transfer tools to leading enterprise apps and plugins like Microsoft Office, Salesforce, iManage, and Google Docs.
Nail Down File Sharing Securely With Kiteworks
Having secure file sharing in place is non-negotiable for most businesses. With the explosion of cloud service providers in the enterprise space, finding a solution isn’t too difficult. When selecting a provider, however, always know that you never have to compromise productivity or accessibility for security (or vice versa).
Schedule a custom demo of Kiteworks to learn more about the file sharing capabilities in the Kiteworks platform.
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