Today, 55% of businesses globally offer some form of remote or hybrid work.Half of the employees access work data on personal devices such as laptops and smartphones, and are using multiple devices: Workers used an average of three devices in 2019, and are projected to use at least four by 2024.
The increase in remote and hybrid work as well as device usage (including personal devices) led many companies to change how they use technology to get work done. Tools for messaging, email, and file sharing––as well as access to cloud-based systems and internal servers across multiple platforms and devices––are now used to enable employees to communicate and collaborate so they can be productive from anywhere.
With these shifts in the digital workspace, companies must also learn how best to protect against new security risks. For example, remote employees may access servers via unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fi. This heightens cybersecurity risks such as data theft, ransomware, and viruses.
Even when employees work from within offices, businesses are at risk for cyberattacks that can occur during standard activities, such as file transfers. According to Egress’ Insider Data Breach Survey 2021, 94% of organizations experienced insider data breaches in 2020. The Ponemon Institute reports the average cost of worldwide data breaches in 2020 totaled $3.86 million.
Secure file sharing is thus vital for companies to conduct business safely and securely. In this article, we’ll define what secure enterprise file transfer solutions are, the benefits to business, and how a solution like WinZip Enterprise® enhances file transfer security.
What is secure enterprise file transfer?
File sharing is the action or process of sharing files between multiple users. Enterprise file transfer (also called enterprise file sharing) is a system that enables team members at a particular organization to securely share files (e.g., documents, images, emails, and videos). Well-known examples of these systems include Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and Microsoft OneDrive.
In order for file sharing to be secure, the shared files must be encrypted. Encryption is the process of altering digital information via cryptography so that it cannot be read by unauthorized parties. It works by using an algorithm to encrypt units of information called plaintext. Once the algorithm is applied, the text is scrambled. At this point, it is called ciphertext.
Encryption creates strings of data (called bits) that move information in and out of plaintext into ciphertext. These bits are the key that is used to lock and unlock the data, therefore rendering it readable or unreadable.
The most widely used encryption algorithm comes from the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). It was developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and is used by financial institutions, government agencies, and insurance and healthcare organizations, among others.
AES uses 128-, 192-, or 256 bit key lengths to encrypt and decrypt data. The longer the bit key, the more complex it is (and therefore, the more difficult it is to decode). For example, with 256 bits, there are 2256 possible combinations to hack the keycode. This makes it virtually impenetrable to brute force attacks.
Files should be encrypted at two main points:
In transit. As the name suggests, in-transit encryption protects data while it moves from one place to another, e.g., when a file is shared via an enterprise messaging service or email.
At rest. Files are at rest when they are not being transmitted. If files are not protected when at rest, they are vulnerable to various forms of cyberattacks, such as restoring a backup to an unsecured server, making a copy of the database and its files, or attaching files to another unsecured server.
Individual vs. enterprise-wide file transfer
However, these systems typically lack enterprise- level capabilities such as password protocols and custom file read-write privileges. Without these capabilities, IT administrators must shoulder the burden of protecting enterprise data on top of managing the data protection challenges that stem from remote work and the myriad devices used.
An enterprise-level system should also offer support for any unique file types a specific industry may require. These may not always be supported by file transfer systems created for more general use.
For example, graphic designers use vector images, which are often created in solutions like CorelDRAW®. If your device doesn’t have this software installed, you may resort to downloading third party extensions to access the necessary files, which can open up your organization to cyberattacks.
Additionally, an enterprise-level system should offer advanced security controls, including:
Deduplication (the removal of redundant data).
Compression (the reduction in file size).
Custom reports (e.g., logs of which parties shared or accessed files).
Top five benefits of secure enterprise file transfer with WinZip Enterprise
In order to securely transfer files, many businesses turn to solutions systems such as WinZip Enterprise, which enables users to share, compress, and encrypt files within a simple interface. Employees can share files to one or many locations, all while knowing the data is protected by military-grade encryption.
WinZip Enterprise offers organizations the following key benefits:
1. Lowered risk of cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks can involve accessing files as they are being transferred. Since cyberattacks are occurring in ever-growing numbers, this is a real concern for businesses. By September of 2021, the total data breaches for the year had outnumbered the breaches in 2020—and surpassed the previous year’s count by more than 17%.
Cyberattacks also increased by 27% the same year, and cost companies $1 million more on average when remote work was involved. WinZip Enterprise protects data in transit and at rest using AES-256 encryption. With this encryption, even if cyber attackers access files, they cannot read the encrypted data. This ensures your data (and the data of clients or customers) is protected.
2. Reduced data loss.
One possible result of a data breach due to a cyberattack is data loss. This involves unwanted or unplanned data removal or data tampering. It also involves the corruption of data, rendering it inaccessible or unreadable.
With secure enterprise file transfer, data is password- protected and encrypted. This prohibits would-be attackers from tampering with or removing data and ensures file integrity for data that could potentially fall into the wrong hands.
3. Improved regulatory compliance.
Depending on your industry, there may be strict regulations requiring data access, storage, and sharing. Since finance, healthcare, and insurance industries all handle sensitive information, they must comply with industry-specific standards regarding data sharing and access. This extends to file sharing and the associated security.
For example, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), all healthcare-related entities must comply with HIPAA regulations regarding the protection of Electronic Protected Health Information.
HIPAA also extends to third parties such as insurance agencies. Each entity must protect against both actual and anticipated threats that may allow unwanted parties to access personally identifying or sensitive information.
4. Automated tools for scheduling transfers and backups.
Most enterprise-level file transfer software includes features such as backup scheduling, which ensures that files are backed up in another location(s). This helps prevent data loss in the event of a cyberattack.
Backups also help protect data in the event of natural disasters, such as floods and fires. These events could potentially damage or destroy both computers and on-site storage systems (e.g., hard drives or servers). In fact, 50% of companies with data loss from a natural disaster immediately filed for bankruptcy.
Scheduling backups, audits, and transfers can also help your organization operate more effectively. When you don’t have to manually monitor your data, you’re in a better position to focus on the tasks at hand.
5. Increased control for IT administrators.
With WinZip Enterprise, your organization’s IT department has access to robust reporting and analytics tools that enable them to track usage. These tools can be highly customizable, which gives IT administrators the ability to tailor the file transfer system to your company’s specific security needs.
These tools also help IT and management gain a deeper understanding of your organization’s storage use and needs. This information can be crucial when it comes to technology-based decision making, such as which new cloud-based system to purchase for data storage.