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 has a clear definition, it also works 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 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.
|Provider||Enterprise or SMB||File Size
|Accellion||Both||Unlimited||Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, Salesforce, iManage|
|Box||Enterprise||5GB||Microsoft Word, Google Workspace, Adobe, Apple Pages|
|Dropbox for Business||SMB||20GB||Microsoft Office, Adobe, Outlook, Salesforce|
|SugarSync||SMB||300MB||Dropbox, Microsoft Office, Slack, Box, Gmail, OneDrive|
|Egnyte||Both||25GB||Microsoft Office, Google Workspace, Salesforce, AWS|
|OneDrive for Business||Both||100GB||Slack, Trello, Gmail, Google Office, Dropbox|
|SecureDocs||SMB||100MB||Microsoft Office (Viewer)|
Top File Sharing Solution Providers
While there are several sharing options out there, they aren’t all one-size-fits-all. Some target specific markets while others maintain lower costs by placing key security or productivity features in higher payment tiers.
Here are some of the top file sharing services give you security and ease of use across four priorities:
- Security and Compliance: Accellion 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 Accellion 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: Accellion 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: Accellion 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: Accellion 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 Accellion
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).
Watch the secure file sharing video to learn how Accellion allows for collaboration, easy integration, and control of data.