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Managing Employee File Sharing

Published on 05 January 15

Employees sharing files between home and work, as well as between each other, isn't necessarily a bad thing. It shows that employees are engaged and want to work harder to provide the best quality work for the company, or that they don’t have enough time in the day to finish everything if you want to look at the glass half-empty. In either case, employees don’t do it to directly cause the company harm, though if there is no IT solution in place that is exactly what can happen, even if employees don’t intend it. Simply put, there are a lot of potential security issues that can occur if employees are free to backup company data to personal accounts.

Most file-sharing tools that have a free component, such as Dropbox, are designed with the consumer in mind, not with the security checks in place that a business might need. Depending on the files that are being shared, this can violate industry regulations, such as utilizing a public environment that is not secured. Hosting this data in an unsecured location can cause one of two very bad things to happen - you can get penalized for employees engaging in these practices during an audit, or a breach can happen. As for the later, the breach can occur from either lower standards in security, or the employee can become disgruntled and BE the breach that damages your company.

Since both possibilities are bad for the company, there are some steps that should happen to educate employees as to why sending that PowerPoint home via DropBox or their personal email isn't the best idea. The first is to update our company’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), which should detail what employees can and cannot share outside with company, and provide the appropriate training to ensure they understand the policy. Anything that could violate any industry regulations or accidentally reveal company secrets should be covered, but things like sharing pictures of the company picnic should be allowed for employees to share.

Of course, there is a genuine benefit to having employees collaborate on files, which is why your organization should utilize a tool to allow them to do that, ideally on a private cloud if there are any regulations your company needs to adhere to, but if there are not you can utilize a public solution such as vnCloud. Creating a file server for employees to access via the network is a great idea, as it enables them to use company resources to access company resources to share within the company. If this sounds redundant, it is because it is intentional - you want our employees to stay within your infrastructure when sharing sensitive information!

By utilizing a company cloud instead of an in-house server, you gain the added benefit of providing employees a way to back up their files and documents as well, in a way that they will be able to recover any work that might be lost if their own machine experiences a failure. In addition with allowing them to continue to work together with other employees by utilizing the cloud environment - this is a big improvement over what they had in place when they were utilizing consumer products! The cloud can be setup multiple ways, ranging from utilizing open-source software like OwnCloud or establishing virtual desktops that can be accessed anywhere. Regardless of the configuration, your employees will be on their way to a more secure method of sharing files.

Of course, this is just to start a file sharing policy for your employees. Depending on your business, you may have additional steps such as adding a firewall to your office or to your cloud solution, for example. For additional help in establishing your solution, you can reach out to a data center services company such as my own to learn more about the possibilities that can be put into place.
This blog is listed under Networks & IT Infrastructure and IT Security & Architecture Community

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  1. 19 January 15

    Nice and knowledgeable blog. File Sharing i beleive is important, neccesary informations needs to be shared for easy accesing .

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