In today’s increasingly digital world, both remote/hybrid work environments and cloud services are growing. Over half of global businesses offer some form of remote or hybrid work, and 94% of enterprises use cloud services.
This increase in dispersed workforces and digital access makes file sharing more important than ever. However, without the right security measures in place, sharing files can leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks.
In this article, we will detail the risks of sharing unsecured files, the importance of protecting business data, and a step-by-step guide on how to use WinZip Enterprise® to secure your business files before they are shared within and outside your organization.
What is secure file sharing?
Secure file sharing technology is what protects data as it travels over a network or on a removable storage device like a flash drive. This is achieved by encrypting the files so that the information is scrambled into ciphertext.
In order to change ciphertext back onto readable plaintext, an authorized user must have the correct encryption key. An encryption key is what the algorithm uses to encode and decode the information.
The industry-standard encryption protocol is the Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES. The AES algorithm encrypts and decrypts data using 128-, 192-, or 256-bit key lengths. The key length directly correlates to its complexity, so the greater the number of bits, the more difficult it is to hack the keycode.
Encryption keys are the barrier between hackers and your data, which makes resistance to brute force algorithms that guess every possible combination, critically important. A 256-bit key contains 2 to the power of 256 possible combinations, making it virtually impossible to penetrate via trial and error.
The risks associated with transferring unsecured data
Since 2020, over 70% of IT security professionals have reported an increase in data security breaches at their organizations. This increase is largely attributed to the growth of remote/hybrid work environments and utilization of cloud-based sharing and storage solutions.
A significant issue that companies must face is the threat of employees accessing file systems through unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fi. Because public Wi-Fi connections are not encrypted, this practice increases the risk of data leaks, ransomware, distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks, and more.
For example, malicious actors can use packet sniffing to gain unauthorized network access. Once they’ve entered the network, hackers can set up fake access points that appear to be public Wi-Fi connections. Then they simply wait for users to transfer information, which they can intercept, obtain, and misuse.
Remote work studies have found that 41% of remote workers use unsecured personal devices to access company data. Nearly a third of these employees are unsure about if or how their home network is encrypted.
In 2021, 55% of remote workers used their personal devices for work purposes. To accommodate for technology gaps in their work-from-home environments, more than half of employees relied on their own applications and programs.
This can lead to unsafe behaviors, such as using consumer-grade solutions that do not offer advanced security controls. Known as shadow IT, this phenomenon occurs when employees operate in ways that fall outside of your organization’s established security controls. In large enterprises, shadow IT can account for 30–50% of overall IT spend.
Employees may feel justified in circumventing such processes because they do not understand the risks and potential consequences of unsecured file transfer. However, transferring unsecured data files makes it easier for hackers to gain access to your sensitive information.
Why you need to secure business files before sharing them
Securing files for sharing keeps your information private and ensures that unauthorized individuals cannot open or use the files. This safeguards data that is shared internally, with clients, or with third-party organizations.
Cyberattacks are on the rise, with ransomware attacks occurring every 11 seconds. Experts estimate that external attackers can breach 93% of organizational networks, gaining access to sensitive and confidential information.
Once malicious actors have access to your information, they can sell it on the dark web. In fact, researchers have determined that you can steal someone’s identify by purchasing around $1,000 worth of personal data.
People tend to seek out the fastest, easiest, or most familiar way to accomplish a task. When it comes to sharing business files, this can lead to unsafe practices such as:
Sending and receiving files using personal messaging apps.
Exchanging files on an unsecured flash drive.
Emailing attachments that contain sensitive information.
Using unsecured wireless networks.
Failing to update anti-virus and anti-malware software.
While email is a fundamental component of day-to-day business operations, it poses severe security risks when sharing files. This is why your information-sharing policy should contain clear requirements for sharing business files.
For example, zipping a file allows you to secure files before sharing. When you send or receive a Zip file, the data within is protected through password protection and file-level encryption. You can also use encrypted Zip files to safely transfer data to the cloud or other storage systems.
How to use WinZip Enterprise to securely transfer business files
There are many ways to encrypt files for secure transfer. For instance, WinZip Enterprise uses FIPS 140-2 compliant AES algorithms. Because it supports 128-bit and 256-bit encryption keys, it’s easy to customize your organization’s data protection processes to suit your business’s needs.
Before you transfer any files, protect them with WinZip Enterprise’s file security features. Secure file sharing with WinZip Enterprise is a straightforward, four-step process:
Step 1. Open WinZip Enterprise and choose Encrypt from the Actions menu.
Step 2. Select the files to encrypt and their level of encryption—128-bit or 256-bit AES.
Step 3. When the Encrypt dialog box appears, create a secure password so authorized users can decrypt the files.
Step 4. Click Save. You can now share the encrypted file with the recipient and they can open and decrypt the files using the secure password you created in Step 3.
WinZip Enterprise is so much more than just an encryption tool. In addition to its industry-leading cryptography, companies that use WinZip Enterprise also leverage its data management, sharing, compression, and backup functionalities.
Your sensitive data is protected in transit, at rest, and even during backups. WinZip Enterprise offers a variety of advanced security features, such as password protocols and reporting and analytics tools.
WinZip Enterprise offers native integration with leading cloud storage services and collaboration tools. This ensures that your files are secure no matter where they are sent.
For IT admins, WinZip Enterprise provides centralized control tools to help set and enforce security standards. This enables you to control factors such as encryption methods, password requirements, backup processes, and secure sharing policies.
Learn how to use WinZip Enterprise to quickly and easily secure business files before sharing.
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