Electronic file-sharing platforms are growing in popularity and use because they conveniently scale down large files to make them easier to share electronically. The introduction of file-sharing apps was good news for board directors because they do most of the work on board business remotely. Along with the popularity of file-sharing platforms also came great risks, which only became apparent over time.
As more file-sharing apps have been introduced, we’ve learned that they’re not all created equal from the standpoint of security. File-sharing applications are subject to malware, hacking, and loss of sensitive information. Security risks in file-sharing apps also mean that anytime someone uses technology to share files between electronic devices, there’s an additional risk of spreading the virus to other devices and systems. Cybersecurity risks can quickly outweigh the benefits of convenience and expediency.
Much of the information that board directors handle is sensitive in nature. That’s a very good reason for board directors to ensure that they’re using the most secure file-sharing apps.
What Is a File-Sharing Application?
Have you ever tried to send a file from your personal email account and got the dreaded message that the file was too large to send? A file-sharing app is a software application that sends that large file to a shared storage space in the cloud. The sender can set up permissions for specific people who can access those files. Essentially, the app facilitates the transfer of large files and opens up access to them for collaboration between parties.
File-sharing platforms may be designed for business or personal use. You’re probably most familiar with file-sharing apps for personal use like Dropbox and Google. Consumers commonly use personal file-sharing apps for things like sharing photos and videos. The apps are intuitive, user-friendly, and may come with other basic tools like syncing, cloud storage, and other sharing features. Another thing that makes these apps so attractive is the cost. Most of them are very inexpensive and some are even free.
The best things are never cheap or free and the same is true for file-sharing apps. File-sharing apps that were designed for consumer use lack security, controls, and oversight features. That means that you may be sharing your personal information with hackers and cybercriminals in addition to your friends and family members.
File-Sharing Risks Are Prevalent
According to an article by Digital Guardian, a survey by Elastica analyzed 100 million files that were shared on leading public cloud applications and they found some sobering results.
The survey showed high rates of sensitive and personal data being shared on personal file-sharing applications. The study noted that the average employee stores about 2, 037 files in the cloud. About 20% of the files that were shared included some type of regulated data such as personally identifiable information (PII) or personal health information (PHI) and other data that’s regulated by HIPAA. This means that with every file that’s being shared via a personal file-sharing app, there’s the risk of personal or sensitive data being exposed.
In taking a deeper look at exactly who is sharing sensitive data, the survey indicates that 85% of the risks originated from only 5% of users. Perhaps what is even more alarming is that 80% of file-sharing didn’t involve malicious intent. Rather, it was shared accidentally.
Hackers were responsible for about 12% of file-sharing incidents and 7% were due traced to malicious acts of inside employees.
Whether files are being shared unintentionally, accidentally, or maliciously, they can have legal consequences for companies, especially for organizations that handle large amounts of sensitive data as a matter of course.
The reality is that file-sharing is necessary for business. Most businesses are doing more and more transactions remotely including real estate, banking, building permits, education, and work. File-sharing is a necessary evil for increased productivity, efficiency, and collaboration. For business applications, companies need to take the proper steps to ensure that the files they’re sending are secure from one end to the other and while they are in storage.
Solutions for Secure File-Sharing
The good news is that companies have several options of actions they can take to continue conducting their businesses and keep their electronic files from getting into the wrong hands.
The first course of action that companies can take is to train their employees about the dangers of using personal file-sharing apps for business purposes. Most employees will have no idea of how prevalent cybercrimes are or how they may be unintentionally be contributing to cybersecurity risks. Train employees to only use apps that are approved by their IT departments. Help them understand why it’s never appropriate to use personal email accounts, free cloud-storage apps or other consumer-based file sharing apps that aren’t within the company’s control.
The second thing that companies can do is to implement a formal file-sharing policy. Having a company policy conveys the serious nature of risks that are involved when using non-secure file-sharing platforms. Companies can also conduct regular audits to investigate the company’s file-sharing practices and to uncover potential security risks that may need attention.
Finally, while technology is often our enemy, it can also be our friend. Companies can and should invest in cybersecurity digital solutions that help to prevent the loss of data, prohibit internal and external theft, and make it difficult for hackers to penetrate.
Cybersecurity begins at the board level with a BoardEffect board management software solution. BoardEffect offers state-of-the-art data protection for file-sharing, cloud storage, and continuous monitoring all on one platform. BoardEffect’s software offers granular controls which means that only authorized users can access parts of the portal that they need to conduct board business.
The platform offers a high level of security with end-to-end encryption and unlimited, secure document storage. BoardEffect is the most efficient solution for meeting management, preparing board books, automating workflows, and tracking documents.
To minimize the impact of cybersecurity threats and get the maximum benefits from cloud computing, your employees need cybersecurity education, cybersecurity policies, and secure file-sharing solutions. Your board needs the benefit of a modern board management solution like BoardEffect that manages all aspects of board business in a secure way.