Think of what would happen if someone shares or corrupts your organization’s business plans, financial data, employee or customer information? You wouldn’t want to leave an open door for scenarios like this, but not facing the issues of file sharing could be leaving you doing just that.

Internal sharing - not without risks

While sharing files within an organization might not be considered as risky as sharing files with external parties, there are still some security and compliance concerns that are worth considering. 

The risk of malicious insiders

An employee might act maliciously by sharing confidential information with outsiders for personal or financial gains. This could go undetected by IT for years, unless you have proper auditing tools in place. 

Failure to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information 

Data protection standards require organizations to limit information to those who need it. For instance, sharing someone’s medical information is an absolute no-go and could result in financial or reputational consequences. Errors are human, so these situations can happen, which is why it’s crucial to be able to review if something has accidentally been exposed.

Employee data theft

There are surprisingly many cases where employees share files to their private accounts before leaving the company. In an example from the US, an employee emailed sensitive information and trade secrets to a personal email account, with the intention of taking it to a competitor. A breach like this one could go undetected and have a huge negative impact on an organization.

External sharing risks

Most organizations need to share files with vendors, agencies, customers and other external stakeholders. Some might see it as a necessary evil, as it is the most convenient way to collaborate, but also associated with risks.

Inadequate security measures 

If an external user gets hacked, there’s a high probability that your shared files will also be compromised. With the alarming increase in cybercrime, no organization has the privilege to consider itself fully secure anymore. 

Acting in bad faith if collaboration is terminated 

A former freelancer might showcase your upcoming projects to competitors in exchange for financial gain - or even corrupt the data in your files to corrupt your business. It’s very difficult to prosecute an external party for such malpractice, so it’s much easier to unshare files once projects have been completed. 

(Un)intentionally granting unauthorized access to your files 

If an external stakeholder shares your files with others (without your knowledge), it’s considered a data leak. In the worst-case scenario, this could violate GDPR or other privacy laws that you will ultimately be held accountable for. 

File sharing can suddenly seem like risky business, but we really don’t think it should be seen as such. With the right procedures and framework in place, the problems are mitigated and you’ll have data governance in place. This doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking and there are simple strategies you can start implementing today. In another blog post, we have described five simple strategies to protect your shared files - happy reading.