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Five things every business manager should know about file sharing practices

Businesses face a real threat – their employees. That’s right, increasingly tech-savvy employees have turned to a diverse range of file transfer tools that are beyond the sight of IT management.

personal file sharing leads to enterprise risk

Employees see webmail, file sharing services, cloud storage, USB sticks and smart devices as easier to use than traditional corporate tools to transfer files. But this trend ignores the security risks and regulatory implications of using file transfer methods entirely outside of corporate control.

Here’re five things you should know about your employees’ habits and the need for secure file transfer technology:

1) Insecure means are used to send confidential files.Recent surveys we have run to monitor user behavior found that a vast majority (84%) of respondents send classified or confidential information through corporate email attachments. Of those, 72% do this at least weekly and 52% daily. That means employees are using unsanctioned tools in record numbers, resulting in a lack of visibility and control.

2) Many employees use personal email to send company documents and data.
Users may think they can’t afford delays or slowdowns associated with jumping through perceived hoops to send out information and files that keep business humming. And if the business doesn’t provide the tools they need to send large and confidential attachments, or if the processes and technologies are too difficult to use, then users will take matters into their own hands – and their own email.

3) Employees are using consumer-grade file transfer services for business purposes.
If the corporate email system limits the size of file attachments or if IT vetoes service requests, resourceful employees don’t throw up their hands in resignation: they look for workarounds. And the growing popularity of file transfer sites and cloud services aimed at consumers is making it easier for business users to sidestep IT. More than half of the users we surveyed admitted they use these services.

4) Risk of data theft is high.
When business users aren’t turning to personal email accounts or free file-sharing services, they may be putting files on USB thumb drives, smartphones or other external devices. Unfortunately, our market research shows that almost one-third of users had lost a USB device, smartphone or other external device containing business or personal information – a tremendous risk for any organisation.

5) IT Management Visibility into Data Management is Low, Putting Businesses at Risk.
Most companies create and maintain policies that mandate the use of approved tools for moving and sharing information. However, our research shows fewer than 32% strictly enforce these policies, making these mandates largely meaningless. No visibility means no compliance with internal policies or external regulations and laws.

The file sharing habits of employees can be risky but is driven by their desire to get work done. The business need and IT desire to control file sharing is equally important. Fortunately, companies don’t have to choose between risky behavior and productivity. Using secure managed file transfer technology, employees can get the convenience, ease-of-use, and speed they need while IT and the business get the control, visibility, security and compliance they need.

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More Stories By Hugh Garber

Hugh Garber is the Senior Product Marketing Manager at Ipswitch, responsible for leading the product marketing, segmentation, and messaging efforts for the company’s secure and managed file transfer solutions. He is also an avid Ipswitch blogger, conveying his views with humor and a sharp edge. With two decades of experience crafting messaging, launching products and enabling sales teams, Hugh brings a wide range of knowledge and creativity to the Ipswitch File Transfer team.

Prior to Ipswitch File Transfer, Hugh held product management, marketing and consulting positions in the retail, telecommunications and Internet services industries. Hugh received his BBA from the University of Massachusetts, and his MBA from Emory University.

In Hugh’s spare time he loves to spend time with his wife and two sons. When he’s not reading Dr. Seuss books and building train tracks with his boys, you can find him either devouring chocolate peanut butter ice cream, experiencing frustration on the golf course, or pretending to know how to use his power tools.