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7 Security Risks of Consumer-Grade File Sync Services

7 Security Risks of Consumer-Grade File Sync Services
November 9, 2017 / Erika von Hoyer

Consumer-grade file sync solutions (i.e. Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive) pose many challenges to businesses executives concerned about the control and visibility over company data. Below are seven of the biggest risks that these solutions pose in a business environment.

1. Data theft

Most of the problems with consumer-grade sync solutions emanate from a lack of oversight. Business owners are not privy to when an instance is installed, and are unable to control which employee devices can or cannot sync with a corporate PC. Use of consumer-grade solutions can open the door to company data being synced (without approval) across personal devices. The proliferation of these personal devices, which accompany employees on public transit, at coffee shops, and with friends, exponentially increases the chance of data being stolen or shared with the wrong parties.

2. Data loss

When administrators cannot manage and monitor file sync activities across an organization, they risk losing critical data. If an employee (or group of employees) adopts a consumer-grade sync solution and starts using it to sync and share sensitive files, administrators without proper oversight cannot manage data sprawl, initiate remote wipes in the case of lost devices, and are unable to guarantee that files are properly shared with the right people.

3. Corrupted data

While many businesses trust their cloud solution providers to make sure that stored data maintains its integrity year after year, most consumer-grade sync offerings don’t implement data integrity assurance systems to ensure that any bit-rot or corrupted data is replaced with a redundant copy of the original, avoiding silent data corruption (SDC).

4. Lawsuits

Consumer-grade options give carte blanche power to employees over the ability to permanently delete and share files. This can result in the permanent loss of critical business documents as well as the sharing of confidential information, which can break privacy agreements in place with clients and third parties.

5. Compliance violations

Since consumer-grade sync solutions have loose (or non-existent) file retention and file access controls, you could be setting yourself up for a compliance violation. Many compliance policies require that files be held for a specific duration and only be accessed by certain people; in these cases, it is imperative to employ strict controls over how long files are kept and who can access them.

6. Loss of accountability

Since admins don’t have access to detailed reports and alerts about system-level activity, consumer-grade sync solutions can result in loss of accountability over changes to user accounts, organizations, passwords, and other entities. If a malicious admin gains access to the system, hundreds of hours of configuration time can be undone if no alerting system is in place to notify other admins of these changes.

7. Loss of file access

Consumer-grade solutions don’t track which users and machines touched a file and at which times. This can be a big problem if you’re trying to determine the events leading up to a file’s creation, modification, or deletion. Additionally, many solutions track and associate a small set of file events which can result in a broken access trail if a file is renamed, for example.

Consumer-grade file sync solutions pose many challenges to businesses that care about control and visibility over company data. Allowing employees to utilize consumer-grade solutions can lead to massive data leaks and security breaches.

Many companies have formal policies or discourage employees from using their own accounts. But while blacklisting common consumer-grade solutions may curtail the security risks in the short term, employees will ultimately find ways to get around company firewalls.

The best way for a business to handle this is to deploy a company-approved application that will allow IT to control the data, yet still grants employees the access and functionality they need to be productive wherever they are. With an enterprise-level solution in place, you can focus on user adoption and training employees in the importance of using a compliant, secure file sync service, so they understand why you’ve adopted this product over others. By incorporating enterprise-level data syncing and sharing solutions into your overall data management strategy, you can minimize your organizations security risks without sacrificing employee productivity.

Learn more by downloading our Cloud Brief: 8 Security and Productivity Benefits of Business-Grade File Sync Technology.

Categories: Security & Compliance
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