al 4 Ways Companies Can Communicate the Security Risks of File Sharing to Their Employees

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4 Ways Companies Can Communicate the Security Risks of File Sharing to Their Employees
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on April 12th, 2017

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4 Ways Companies Can Communicate the Security Risks of File Sharing to Their Employees


IT professionals have their work cut out for them when it comes to ensuring the security of an organization’s data. Cyber security risks are present everywhere. From battling ransomware and phishing attacks to accounting for human error, your defenses must be strong and proactive. Unfortunately, the IT department can’t be everywhere at all times to thwart the myriad of dangers, and often the greatest risk is the company’s own employees. That’s why it’s so critical to bring employees into the conversation and help them become an active part of your file sharing security plan.

Yes, this is usually easier said than done. Employees don’t inherently understand the threats lurking at their fingertips, and in many cases, they’re more concerned with performing their jobs efficiently than worrying about security. Still, it’s essential to communicate the serious security risks they may be exposing the business to, and train them on how to play an important role in mitigating those risks. Here are four ways your IT department can get employees at all levels of the organization involved in secure file sharing practices.

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1. Conduct Ongoing Data Security Training

The security threats facing your organization aren’t stagnant. They change over time, as the digital landscape is riddled with emerging risks. That’s why your employee training efforts must be frequent and multidimensional. Just as your IT department’s efforts must progress to meet the changing complexities of data security, so must your training processes.  

If your employees don’t acquire the consistent education to follow secure file sharing procedures and identify risks, they could unknowingly open the door to intruders and leave your data vulnerable to compromise. As each person executes file sharing processes and solutions in their everyday responsibilities, many of them are completely unaware of the dangers they’re causing. So unless your business has formal, effective training as part of an overarching data security policy -- and fully educates users at every level of the organization -- you’re subject to suffering from serious repercussions in the event of data leakage, theft or intrusion.

All employees should be trained well and often in order to stay up-to-date on the transforming threat landscape and make every effort to safeguard the business’s data assets. Whether it’s formal class sessions, ongoing emails, quizzes, online videos or presentations, without this exhaustive security training, your organization will never be able to overcome the risk of file sharing hazards.

2. Outline User Access Designations

Not every employee requires access to all files and data. In fact, having universal access permissions is a security infringement just waiting to happen. To protect your business’s sensitive information, you must manage how files are viewed and used, down to the individual user account. This means restricting access to specific directories or individual files within a directory based on the users who need that information to do their jobs, as well as enabling distinct permissions (upload, download, delete, list) for each user.

Then explain those designations to the people affected by them. Employees who have access to files that others within the organization do not are tasked with a higher level of responsibility for ensuring that those files are kept safe and private.

Secure file access solutions like FTP are designed to support your efforts in this area. Each person with computer access should be assigned a unique ID so that all of your employees (and the activities they engage in) are immediately identifiable at all times. This gives your IT team a high level of oversight, and arms your employees with unique user accounts that nobody else can interfere with. This technology, coupled with adequate communication on how employees should be taking advantage of it, help lay a solid framework for addressing file sharing security risks.

3. Utilize a Secure FTP Software

The market is full of consumer-grade file sharing products, but many of the software options fail to include the advanced security features your organization needs to protect its data. When the business as a whole, or an individual employee executing an isolated workaround, employs a free, convenient service like Dropbox or Google Drive, your IT team doesn’t have the visibility and control to manage all user permissions. Without an ability to set permissions based on individual roles, you can’t restrict information properly across the company. This is one of the quickest ways to let data fall into the wrong hands.

In many cases, consumer-grade file sharing services also render you powerless in terms of where your data is stored. The company’s highly sensitive files could be physically located anywhere in the world, including places where there’s not strong policies for determining who can access information or how data facilities must be secured and monitored. Therefore, it’s crucial to utilize a secure FTP software provider that’s transparent about where your data is housed and how it is physically and digitally protected.

Look for some of the following benefits to identify a solution that has the capabilities to secure your data:

  • In-transit and at-rest encryption
  • Password enforcement
  • Multiple access methods
  • Granular user access controls
  • IP and country restrictions
  • Built-in features to ensure regulatory compliance
  • On-demand reporting and audit logs

4. Focus on Cost and Job Realities

Some data breaches can be so devastating that they lead to a complete shutdown of the business. This doesn’t just affect high-level owners and leadership members; it has the potential to put employees out of work. Every employee must understand this reality so they are motivated to play a part in keeping the business safe.

The truth is no one is exempt. From the top levels of management to the intern team, every individual with access to your systems must be fully apprised of the file sharing security risks inherent in business operations. Everyone is a target. To manage the immense danger, it’s necessary to establish a precedent of security awareness that emphasizes the wide-reaching costs and realities of security threats. Unless all employees have a deep understanding of the vulnerabilities that can jeopardize the entire organization, they won’t be empowered to take part in defending it.

Does your organization have a proper data security policy in place? Get expert insight and a free policy template to help build a plan that successfully mitigates file sharing security risks and protects your business. 


About Martin Horan

Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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