Todd Partridge, director of product marketing, Intralinks
Todd Partridge, director of product marketing, Intralinks

Part of this evolution means that old technologies and processes become obsolete. Data sharing processes are a clear example of this. In the past decade, with more people being able to work from home, teams in a variety of industries have become more collaborative. People now expect to share data across multiple platforms, work across different devices and access information on the go. This has led to employees to call for more and better ways to securely share information.

The centralisation of files is a necessary requirement for every business to enable editing and version control of data. Simultaneously however, workers now need access to documents from remote locations when they are working away from their office. Some businesses have looked towards Consumer-focused File Sync and Share solutions (CFSS) to try to overcome this problem.

All too often however, as is the case with CFSS, sensitive and proprietary data is moved to the cloud without employees understanding the critical security implications. Osterman Research's study, 'The Critical Need of Enterprise-Grade File Sync and Share Solutions', commissioned by Intralinks looked into this problem and found that problems with these various file sync and share tools have increased significantly over the past years.

Identifying the issue

Osterman's study has found that CFSS solutions can frequently increase compliance risk, legal costs and put significant portion of corporate content outside the control of organisation leadership, placing company data in jeopardy.

For example, the study reveals that 13 percent of corporate data is stored in employees' laptops, five percent in smartphones and tablets and one percent on employees' home computers. Organisations are losing control over corporate content because copies of assets are stored with a variety of third party providers within these devices. As a result, IT is less able to control corporate data bringing about legal and regulatory compliance implications.

Awareness within the business

According to the Osterman study, most IT decision-makers understand just how serious this problem is becoming. Only eight percent of those surveyed give their organisation a 'grade A' for their management of information security best practices in file-sharing, and nearly one half gave themselves a 'grade C' or lower.

However, according to this study, only 19 percent of organisations have replaced their CFSS tools with alternatives,  despite 55 percent considering this a  “moderate” or “very high” priority over the next 12 months.

Alternative options

To leverage the benefits of a connected workforce, it is essential that businesses implement a file sync and share platform that promotes safe and secure collaboration. Enterprise grade File Sync and Share Solutions (EFSS) are one possible alternative among numerous secured information exchange tools that can address data sovereignty issues and maintain the compliance and governance regulations that are inherently becoming a concern to IT departments worldwide.

With enterprise grade file sync and share solutions, companies can encrypt files so that security remains with the file itself in the cloud. IT teams can still be the final authority as to the security of their corporate data. Files can be shared as secure, password-protected links rather than as attachments and the links can be set to expire after a certain time or even on a first download. Moreover, users can audit the link to track who has shared, downloaded and read the file.

A key distinction between secured information exchange tools and CFSS tools is where primary control over content is managed. IT with CFSS and individual employees with CFSS. The Osterman study found that a significant majority of organisations agree on certain security traits that an EFSS system has. In particular, most agree that data should be fully encrypted between endpoints, with no intermediate steps where data is not encrypted. 

Organisations need to stay ahead of the curve - we now live in a connected age where businesses need to offer employees the flexibility they require without harming the security of their data. Businesses need to find ways to give their employees access to corporate data anywhere across multiple devices. With the same productivity gains, IT departments could regain full control over corporate information and protect enterprises from important security and privacy issues.

Contributed by Todd Partridge, director of product marketing, Intralinks