The very first email was sent in 1971 as an experiment to see if computers could actually talk to each other. Almost 50 years later, emails have become a staple of our personal and business lives. Up until recently, most people could send an email without giving security a second thought, even if they were sending sensitive client information across the internet. Perhaps the only thing that holds us up a bit when sharing files via email is that the files are sometimes too large to send successfully.
As technology allows us to do more with emails and other electronic applications, it has also opened up new problems with unauthorized access to information. It seems that emails transfer seamlessly from one inbox to another. Senders are usually unaware that those emails are making stops at various servers along the way. At most of those locations, emails are sitting on a random server that is potentially unprotected.
The owner of the server, or anyone hacking into it, can infect your message or delete it altogether if they wish. The reality of today is that emails are sufficient for non-confidential information, but they aren’t secure enough for the privacy and security measures that today’s marketplace demands.
Designers of electronic applications attempted to solve one of the problems with emails by creating applications that allow users to send larger files. Unfortunately, few of them have the level of security that regulatory bodies near and far now require.
The GDPR data protection law in Europe is generating a national conversation about data privacy and security related to emails. Nonprofit organizations must abide by privacy laws, just as all other corporations are required to do.
What’s the Attraction with Free File-Sharing Apps?
The more society got used to emailing, the more we wanted to use it. Those who opted to use it to share large audio or video files or lengthy business documents found that regular email systems wouldn’t support the sharing of large files. They didn’t have to wait long for new apps to surface that could easily support the sharing of larger files. Of course, most of the apps supported free versions for sharing smaller files and offered file-sharing for larger files for a cost. These companies set a premium price on sharing large files. Depending on your purpose and intent, sharing large files can be costly.
File-sharing apps let users use any electronic or mobile device to send files from anywhere in the world. The apps have cross-platform compatibility and some offer versions of apps with optimum speed capability. These apps make it possible to view photos from a local storage disk and to play music and video files with ease.
The biggest negative to free file-sharing apps is that most of them don’t offer much in the way of privacy or security. Not all applications have secure file transfers that include such security measures as encryption and password protection. As a result, they’re susceptible to malware and cyberattacks.
Should Boards Be Concerned About Privacy, Security or Both?
The prevalence of hackers has us on alert about security and new regulations over data privacy have us on alert about sharing personal information. It’s important to consider that “privacy” and “security” aren’t interchangeable terms.
Electronic security typically refers to three main issues:
- Authentication—which usually requires a unique user ID and a password, which verifies who they are.
- Authorization—which limits users to certain authorized areas.
- Audit—which tracks someone’s access and activity.
Privacy, on the other hand, falls under authorization. It’s possible to share information while protecting someone’s identity and private, personal information.
The new privacy laws prohibit nonprofit organizations from sharing private information and can hold them accountable if they share data illegally, whether it was intentional or not. It’s more important than ever for nonprofit boards to find an electronic solution for file-sharing that has tight security and that protects personal data.
What Are Some Good Alternatives to Insecure File-Sharing Apps for Nonprofit Boards?
Nonprofit boards only have two choices related to secure file-sharing applications. One choice is to find a file-sharing application that has strong, built-in security features. The other is to use a secure board portal.
There are a minute number of secure file-sharing applications available. A few of them use encryption like SpiderOak ONE, Certain Safe and Box. While their security is relatively good, these applications are far from perfect for use for nonprofits. Apparently, the security is so good that the companies can’t even help users reset their passwords if they lose them, which is a major negative for nonprofit boards. There are other cons to using these types of applications as well. With Certain Safe, users can send files, but not individual folders. This is a limitation that may not work well at all for nonprofit organizations.
Secure Board Portals Provide the Privacy, Security and Features Nonprofits Need
Industry-specific portals are springing up in many industries to solve many of the privacy and security problems that come with email and file-sharing applications. Some of the first industries to benefit from the technology of secure board portals were:
- Boards of directors
Board portals are the perfect solutions. Portals, such as the one provided by BoardEffect, provide the best in security for today’s nonprofit organizations. The portal is a secure, personalized online space that is legally compliant and fully auditable.
Clients and customers are now expecting this level of service, whereby they can send and share information as conveniently as sending a link to an article to a friend.
The portal allows nonprofit board members to share files securely through the portal because the documents are stored online and are not merely attached to an email. There’s no need to mess with complicated encryption procedures and there’s no need to create, manage or deal with numerous passwords. Portals let users set user permissions, track usage and automatically back up data. The portal allows for seamless and secure messaging right inside the portal, so messages are secure and private.