Cloud-based file sharing describes a variety of services that enable users to store, synchronize, and share files in the cloud. It gives end-users the ability to access files at any time and location—all they need is an internet-capable device, such as a smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
People are increasingly turning to cloud-based sharing as our workplaces become more and more digitized. For example, over 90% of midsize organizations plan to adopt a hybrid work structure, which changes how people work and collaborate. Specifically, it requires digital access to enable off-premises file sharing.
This article highlights the benefits of cloud-based file sharing and best practices to keep your data secure. We will also look at common issues with cloud file sharing and explain how to balance accessibility and security with WinZip® Enterprise.
Benefits of Cloud-Based File Sharing
Cloud-based solutions have many benefits over traditional physical storage methods:
Lower costs. Files shared through the cloud travel through a cloud computing system rather than on-premises data infrastructure. This eliminates the need for physical file storage, such as hard drives and servers. An enterprise-level hard drive can cost hundreds of dollars, and a single server can cost anywhere from $3,500 to over $12,000.
Secure backup and recovery.With cloud-based file sharing, you can automate scheduling for data backups. Files that are regularly backed up in another location can be retrieved following the loss, corruption, or destruction of your original files.
Data and user accountability. Cloud-based file sharing gives your IT team administrative controls over factors such as password protocols, encryption levels, and file tracking. This increases data accountability and limits user access to only what’s necessary for their specific job role and responsibilities.
Accessibility. The most tangible benefit of cloud-based file sharing is that you can access files from anywhere using your preferred device. This makes it ideal not only for remote workers and hybrid work environments, but also facilitates secure file sharing with external stakeholders, such as contractors, third parties, or business partners.
Best Practices for Cloud-Based File Sharing
A common misconception with cloud-based file sharing is that the cloud service provider (CSP) alone is responsible for security. This incorrect assumption could contribute to the fact that 83% of businesses don’t encrypt files in the cloud, making them prime targets for cyberattacks.
In fact, cloud security is a shared responsibility between the user and provider. Your organization’s data is your responsibility, including how it is stored and who can access it. While CSPs use several standard practices to secure the cloud, additional action is needed on your part.
Use the following best practices to keep your company’s data safe:
Manage Configuration Settings
Your configuration settings are what give you control over the cloud operating environment. While these environments are secure by default, you can manually change the permissions settings. However, oversights, errors, and poor decision-making can all lead to misconfigurations.
For example, your IT team is trying to streamline workflows and simplify internal processes. They change the permission settings to grant file access to anyone in the company with the proper credentials.
This new level of exposure increases the attack surface for data breaches and other cyberattacks, because a greater number of individuals can access the data. Whether through simple human error or a hacker stealing a user’s login credentials, the risk of data compromise increases as access permission settings are lowered.
According to security researchers, around 70% of all cloud security issues arise from misconfigurations, and 90% of companies have misconfigurations that make them vulnerable. Develop clear standards and policies for how files are secured to prevent such errors and oversights.
Encrypt Your Files
Unencrypted data can be accessed and read by anyone who intercepts it. Many CSPs use end-to-end encryption, but this only secures the data as it is shared from one end system or device to another. File-level encryption works to safeguard individual files for more granular security controls.
File encryption makes data unusable to anyone without the correct password or decryption key. This keeps data secure as it travels between users, devices, and systems. However, 83% of companies do not use encryption, and around 40% of employees access organizational data using unsecured personal applications.
If compromised files are not properly encrypted, your organization could face legal and professional consequences. From lost revenue to customer turnover and compliance violations, unencrypted files can be catastrophic in the event of a data breach.
Monitor File-Sharing Activity
Monitoring the movement of files and data helps IT administrators detect and remediate behaviors that could indicate malicious cyberactivity. Use an access control list to ensure that users are not accessing data irrelevant to their job role or function.
For example, over 50% of organizations have 1,000 or more sensitive, unencrypted files that can be accessed by all employees. By giving full access to all business data, organizations are four times as likely to experience a data breach.
Maintaining the principle of least privilege (POLP) with user access permissions helps your organization reduce the opportunity for data theft. The principle of least privilege is the process of limiting data access to only what is necessary for a user’s specific job role or functions. Around 43% of data loss is caused by intentional or accidental insider action, and permission-based user roles help you track unusual or risky behavior.
It is also important to conduct regular access control reviews. Because permission-based user roles are based on factors relevant to a job role or project assignment, access needs can change over time. If a user no longer needs access to certain files or systems, reviewing access controls ensures you switch off unneeded credentials.
WinZip Enterprise Secures Cloud-Based File Sharing
WinZip Enterprise uses powerful AES encryption that safeguards data at the file level. It integrates with leading cloud storage providers, giving you the ability to securely share files across multiple supported services.
For example, WinZip Enterprise works directly with Microsoft Teams. This streamlines cloud-based file sharing between colleagues and clients, no matter their location. With native integration across numerous cloud services, you can share files securely without impeding ease of access to the cloud.
WinZip Enterprise is also highly customizable, giving IT administrators more control over included features and platforms. IT teams can set password and encryption standards for users, as well as protocols for the movement of files and data. They can also create a sandbox of approved sharing services, ensuring that files cannot be shared via unauthorized platforms.