Since the pandemic, file-sharing practices among large corporations have shifted from on-premises to cloud-based file sharing solutions. This is due to the sharp increase in employers who allow their staff to work from home. It is estimated that 40.7 million American professionals will be fully remote within the next five years. within the next five years.
Cloud-based file sharing is the practice of sharing files from any internet-capable device over the cloud. Rather than only being able to access information directly from an on-premises server, cloud sharing facilitates on-the-go access regardless of an end user’s physical location. On average, companies report that 41% of their workloads are already in the cloud.
File sharing is a key aspect of any business’s daily operations. By sharing company files, authorized employees are able to access the information they need to complete their tasks and assignments.
With cloud file sharing, organizations that allow their employees to work remotely or in hybrid working environments can easily share files with each other, regardless of their location. Sharing files over the cloud also protects your organization’s sensitive data from being destroyed in the case of a flood, fire, or other natural disaster. Not to mention, cloud services like data storage are typically more scalable and affordable than traditional on-premises data storage and sharing. than traditional on-premises data storage and sharing.
It is reported by Gartner that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecasted to grow by 20.4% in 2022, totaling $494.7 billion. However, the growing popularity of cloud-based file sharing among corporations has also opened a gateway for a wide variety of challenges, such as internet dependency issues and lack of resources regarding cloud spending and governance.
Data breaches conducted by malicious cyber attackers are also a growing concern for organizations that use cloud-based file sharing services. Since 80% of organizations use the cloud to store sensitive data, the cloud makes a perfect target for cybercriminals who seek to steal or tamper with the sensitive information of large corporations.
This article highlights the advantages and disadvantages of using cloud-based file sharing solutions, how organizations can benefit from cloud-based file sharing, and common data security issues associated with cloud-based file sharing and how to mitigate them. At the end of this article, we will also explore how to use tools like WinZip® Enterprise to help your organization protect its sensitive data while sharing files in the cloud.
Advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based file sharing for large organizations
Before selecting a cloud-based file sharing solution for your organization, be sure to consider the following advantages and disadvantages of sharing company files using the cloud.
Advantages of cloud-based file sharing include:
Accessibility. With a cloud-based file sharing option, businesses can store their data remotely and allow their employees to access company files from nearly anywhere. For teams that travel often or work in different time zones, storing and sharing files in the cloud helps them to collaborate on documents without having to meet in person or go into the office.
Data recovery. It is reported that 94% of companies that experience severe data loss do not recover financially. Cloud-based file sharing systems mitigate this potential problem because they automatically store and back up data in an external location, minimizing the chance that your important company files will be lost in the case of a natural disaster or system failure.
Scalability. On-premises file sharing solutions come with a number of challenges, including the hassle of dealing with the limitations of physical data storage and server maintenance. Most cloud-based file sharing services only require businesses to pay for the data storage they need. This ensures that as a business grows, they won’t be held back by limited file storage and sharing options.
Disadvantages of cloud-based file sharing
Security concerns. By switching to a cloud-based file sharing solution, companies are handing over the duty of file security management to their cloud provider. This is risky because organizations tend to lack the necessary insights as to how their cloud service provider is storing and securing their data.
According to a 2021 IDC cloud security study, it is estimated that 98% of enterprises have contended with at least one cloud security breach in the last 18 months.
Internet dependency. Cloud-based file sharing solutions store data in an off-site location that can only be accessed through the internet. If a remote employee’s internet connection were to fail, they would be unable to access the important company information necessary to fulfill their job duties.
In addition, a slow internet connection can also decrease the productivity of employees, as they would have to deal with slow file sharing load times.
Difficulty managing cloud spending. It’s estimated that business owners typically waste about 30% of their cloud spending budget. Companies that are new to cloud services often lack the expertise necessary to purchase the type of cloud services their organization needs. Often, businesses overspend on cloud services, purchasing additional features and large amounts of storage that they simply do not need.
Use cases for cloud-based file sharing
The bottom line of any business can almost always be equated back to the efficiency and effectiveness of its daily operations. Cloud services help businesses empower their employees to access, store, share, and collaborate on company files in a cost-effective, efficient manner.
Here are a few common ways that businesses choose to use cloud-based file storing and sharing solutions within their organization:
File sharing. With the popularity of remote work comes a need for employees to share files with their colleagues in an efficient manner. Cloud-based file sharing services enable employees to share files with their coworkers in a matter of moments, streamlining collaborative workflows. Most cloud services also enable users to work on documents simultaneously from any location with internet access, improving productivity among teams and departments.
Data security. The 2022 Netwrix Cloud Data Security Report states that 53% of organizations reported that their top goal of cloud adoption was to improve file security. With cloud-based services, the burden of ensuring data security often falls in the hands of the cloud-service provider. Due to this, most cloud systems use file encryption while data is in-transit and at-rest. This ensures that company data stays secure in the cloud. Typically, cloud storage providers use 256-bit AES encryption to protect sensitive company data from brute force attacks.
File archiving. Typically, when company files are stored in on-premises solutions, only the most updated version of the file is stored. By practicing file archiving in the cloud, companies can ensure that not only the most recent, but all versions of company files are saved.
File backup. Cyberattacks, natural disasters, system failures, and other unexpected events are bound to happen, no matter how secure your company files may be. By backing up organizational files in the cloud, businesses can effectively mitigate data loss.
Data storage. Cloud-based service providers enable multiple authorized users to store and access company data. This way, data can be easily accessed by authorized persons regardless of their physical location. This empowers teams to retrieve the data they need when they need it.
Common issues with cloud-based file sharing and how to mitigate them
Cybersecurity threats are one of the most pressing issues that have plagued cloud-based file sharing services. It’s estimated that 30% of organizations host sensitive data in the cloud without the proper security controls in place.
Without the appropriate security measures in place, organizations often fall victim to cybercrimes such as data breaches, which can result in reputational, legal, and financial consequences. In 2022 alone, organizations who faced cybersecurity compliance fines more than doubled from 11% to 25%.
Here are a few common issues with cloud-based file sharing and how your organization can mitigate them appropriately:
Account hijacking occurs in the cloud when malicious cyber attackers manage to gain access to an employee’s cloud-based services account. In 2021, 86% of IT leaders stated that account hijacking cost them more than $500,000 in revenue.
Cloud-based accounts are typically hijacked using one of the following methods:
- Using a trial-and-error approach (otherwise known as brute force)
- Purchasing stolen user login data from the Dark Web
- Manipulating the configuration of applications
- Phishing attacks
- Using malware to steal user credentials
Just as cyber attackers use a variety of methods to hack user accounts from the cloud, users can also take certain actions to protect their login credentials from malicious cyberhackers.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a user login security mechanism that requires account users to submit at least two versions of user credentials before they can access their account. Typically, these credentials include a knowledge factor (what the user knows), an inherent factor (what the user is), and a possession factor (what the user has).
For instance, if an account user wanted to access their account using multi-factor authentication, then they would submit a knowledge factor such as a password into the system and then an inherent factor or possession factor such as a fingerprint or security token.
By using multi-factor authentication, even if a cyberhacker has gained access to one set of your login credentials, they would have to access at least one additional set of login credentials to gain full access to your account.
Unfortunately, nearly 48% of organizations do not have multi-factor authentication enabled for administrative accounts within cloud-native environments. This lack of security while using cloud-based services is exactly why cybersecurity threats are one of the main concerns of organizations today.
Unauthorized account access
According to IBM, stolen or compromised account credentials were responsible for 19% of data breaches in 2021. Companies can mitigate this cybersecurity risk in the cloud by leveraging permission-based user roles. By doing so, organizations will be able to control exactly who has access to what data.
For example, role-based access control (RBAC) is a security measure that restricts system access to only the authorized users. In other words, employee access to company data is linked to the position and responsibilities they hold within the organization.
With RBAC, account users are assigned a title—either an administrator, specialist, or an end-user. Depending on their account designation, users are granted limited access to specific company resources. Although this user access management technique can complicate permission administration for IT departments, it does enable organizations to quickly adapt to organizational changes while keeping sensitive data secure.
Another user access management technique that can be used to avoid the risk of unauthorized account access is the principle of least privilege (POLP). POLP limits users’ access rights to only what data is needed to fulfill that individual’s workplace duties.
Unlike RBAC, POLP is not based on user roles, but rather user needs. By using custom access controls, IT system administrators will be able to revoke and grant access to important company data as they see fit, limiting the risk of unauthorized access.
Unencrypted filesAccording to a report by the Ponemon Institute, 55% of respondents stated that their organizations transfer sensitive or confidential data to the cloud whether it is encrypted or not. This lack of file-level encryption leaves sensitive organizational data open to cyber attackers who seek to steal it, tamper with it, or destroy it altogether.
To properly mitigate this threat, large organizations should practice proper file-level encryption when both storing data and sharing files on cloud-based services. File-level encryption maintains the security of the sensitive data of company files by making them inaccessible to unauthorized users on an individual basis.
Encryption-encoded files using a specific key make them accessible to the keyholder and the keyholder alone. Therefore, a cybercriminal would have to possess a file’s decryption key to be able to access the information the file holds. Without the decryption key, even if a cyber attacker gained access to an organization’s database, the files within the database would be unreadable.
How to use WinZip Enterprise to secure your company’s cloud file sharing practices
WinZip Enterprise natively integrates with top cloud storage providers, ensuring that your organization’s files stay secure from unauthorized access regardless of the platform they reside on. Using AES encryption, WinZip Enterprise secures company files on the cloud, both at-rest and in-transit. This type of encryption is commonly used by financial institutions, government agencies, and healthcare institutions to secure files that contain sensitive data.
With WinZip Enterprise, large organizations are able to protect their critical data in the cloud by enforcing access controls, encrypting company files, and even implementing multi-factor authentication on company accounts.