As today’s workplaces become increasingly digitized, collaboration has shifted to shared digital documents or files that team members can all work on together—anywhere, anytime.
Keeping these files and documents up-to-date and ensuring that everyone is working from the correct version has always been a challenge. With the rise in remote work and increased usage of mobile devices for business purposes, it is more important than ever to use solutions that facilitate effective file sharing and accurate version synchronization.
The term file sharing solutions encompasses the various types of software designed to store and transmit files across your organization’s network or over the internet. This eliminates the need for physical file storage and enables collaboration between internal and external stakeholders.
To maintain the integrity of shared data, most file sharing solutions also synchronize the files, capturing updates and changes in real time.
While tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive are popular for sharing and syncing files, it is important to understand the risks of relying on consumer-grade software solutions for business needs. If you’re not using enterprise file sharing and synchronization software solutions, your data is at risk of unauthorized access and loss.
In this article, we identify three key differences between enterprise-level and consumer software solutions. These distinctions illustrate why secure enterprise file sharing and syncing is essential for protecting sensitive data while enabling collaboration for today’s remote and hybrid workforces.
1. Compliance with Regulations and Legal Requirements
Companies that handle sensitive data are at risk of compliance violations if they rely on consumer-grade solutions. While consumer solutions may be well-suited for individual use, they typically do not provide the types of security controls needed for regulatory compliance in many industries or locations.
Some common data security compliance requirements and regulations include:
The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). GLBA compliance protects the confidentiality of personally identifiable information (PII). Recommended best practices include encryption key management and encryption.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). In order to reduce fraud and increase protection of sensitive cardholder data, PCI DSS requirements include data encryption, secure access controls, and maintaining secure systems and networks.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The primary goal of HIPAA’s Security Rule is to protect electronic health information (ePHI). HIPAA-compliant file sharing solutions use proper encryption algorithms, generate audit logs, and enable secure access controls.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR regulations protect personal data by requiring the implementation of appropriate technical and organizational measures, including encryption, audit trails, and granular user access roles.
Unsecured file sharing and syncing exposes your company to potential violations for regulatory noncompliance. For example, in January 2021, New York health insurer Excellus Health Plan agreed to pay $5.1 million to settle compliance violations that included unsecured file sharing. These violations stemmed from a data breach that impacted over 9.3 million people.
But that’s far from the sole example. For instance, Texas-based Ascension Data & Analytics agreed to a settlement in December 2021 to resolve allegations that it violated the GLBA’s Safeguards Rule when one of its vendors stored customer financial information in an unsecure cloud storage platform.
Enterprise organizations can be held responsible for the actions of their third-party vendors, which occurred in the aforementioned case when Ascension failed to ensure that their vendor maintained appropriate safeguards for customers’ personal information.
2. Enhanced Visibility and Security Controls
Using consumer-oriented technology for business purposes often leads to a loss of visibility and lack of control over who can access sensitive data. This is because individual software solutions lack the security controls needed to define folder and access permissions. This makes it harder to identify the users and actions involved in the creation, modification, or removal of a file.
Enterprise file synchronization and sharing platforms allow enable you to address multiple layers of access capabilities with enhanced security controls, such as:
Role-based access control (RBAC). RBAC enables the development of specific permission-based user roles based on job role, project assignment, or other relevant factors which define the scope of access granted to various users.
Principle of least privilege (POLP). POLP restricts a user’s access to only the materials necessary for their job and prevents unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA verifies a user’s identity using two or more credentials, such as passwords and security tokens.
Audit logs. Use audit logs to identify how files are shared and track user activity to quickly detect unusual behavior or potential breaches that could lead to data loss.
File integrity monitoring (FIM). FIM enables IT departments to monitor files for unexpected changes that could indicate illicit activity, noncompliance, or other security risks.
File-level encryption. Encrypting data at the file level restricts access to authorized users who can only decrypt file contents with the appropriate password or encryption key.
Without visibility into file sharing and synchronization processes, your IT personnel cannot ensure that your organization is following your internal policies and any external regulatory requirements.
3. Secure File Access and Sharing
Enterprise file sharing and synchronization solutions update files in real-time and facilitate sharing and collaboration between users both within and outside your organization. This is especially important given the ongoing growth in remote and hybrid work environments, as well as the increased usage of mobile phones for business purposes.
By the end of 2022, experts predict that 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be completely remote. This trend will only grow—remote opportunities have increased from around 9% of all high paying jobs in 2020 to 15% in the third quarter of 2021.
Accordingly, there is an associated demand for file sharing solutions that enable these types of workforces to easily collaborate, synchronize, and securely share files.
Our usage of mobile devices has also increased. In fact, 80% of IT executives believe mobile device usage is essential for people to do their jobs effectively. However, when used as enterprise endpoints, devices such as smartphones and tablets pose a security risk.
In addition to the risk of device loss or theft, communication between unsecure devices and networks can be intercepted by malicious actors when employee or contractor devices are used to access company files over outside networks. For example, an unsecured Wi-Fi connection can be a gateway for malware and unauthorized file access.
Enterprise-grade file synchronization and sharing solutions protect sensitive data while ensuring teams can share and collaborate on the same files. Common features of these solutions include:
Remote wipe capabilities to remove data from a compromised endpoint device.
Encryption and password protection for increased security when sharing files.
Automated scheduling for audits and backups to safeguard important files.
Share and Sync Your Sensitive Data with WinZip Enterprise
WinZip® Enterprise is a powerful, customizable solution that supports team collaboration while protecting your organization’s critical data. Featuring military-grade file encryption, WinZip Enterprise secures files at rest and in transit.
With WinZip Enterprise, your IT admins have centralized control over the complete file sharing environment. This functionality streamlines the implementation and enforcement of secure file sharing, backups and audits, and compliance with various industry regulations and security policies.