filesCloud storage and file sharing applications benefit modern businesses in uncountable ways. However, using these applications also comes with security risks. The risks associated with sharing files are by no means insurmountable. However, your company needs to be aware of the risks involved in sharing files with third parties. Knowing more about these risks will keep your business one step ahead of them.

Data Leaks

Sharing files using cloud storage always runs the risk of data leakages. Storage on cloud-based applications–especially free storage–runs the risk of being viewed or mishandled by the service provider. While services such as DropBox and Google Drive claim to be secure, from the user’s end, you can never be 100 percent certain. Using these applications comes with a healthy amount of doubt in who exactly has access to your files. Most businesses do not want sensitive data sitting around on third-party servers with no idea who has access to them. By using these services, your business also opens itself to malicious hacks. The best practice is to share files using strong encryption software, which many paid services offer.

Bring Your Own Device

In the business world today, many employees bring their own devices to work. Unfortunately, the introduction of these devices to your file-sharing network brings with it many risks. Network administrators can easily monitor activity with sensitive documents on company devices. This process is much more complicated once employees bring their own unsecured devices into the equation.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are often win-win for both employee and company. These policies help to cut costs and give employees the flexibility to use familiar devices. Employees’ devices are usually unsecured, which could mean disaster for your company if they fall into the wrong hands. Moreover, every employee device runs the risk of being hacked on a home or public network. This gives those outside the company access to your most sensitive files and documents. In this scenario, it is also more difficult to track a potential data breach, as employees’ personal devices are not usually equipped with the correct monitoring software to do so.

Lower Security Levels

Once you use a third-party application to share files, you automatically lower the security levels of your entire business. This may sound extreme, but doing so–especially without a fair amount of research–may mean the downfall of your company. A company is only as secure as its weakest link and including a third party in your business network may introduce a new weakest link into the network. By doing so, you lower your company’s security to the level provided by the third party, no matter how weak this security is.

You can have top-of-the-line security on your network and still fall prey to a hacker who uses a third-party file-sharing software to make their way into your network through the backend. You will never have control of the third party’s own security measures. Sharing files with a third party provider takes security control out of your hands and puts it into those of an unknown technician outside of the company. Third parties service many clients, which means that your security risk goes up monumentally just by storing files on their servers.

All told, file sharing is immeasurably useful to any modern business. Cloud sharing gives employees the ability to collaborate and be productive like never before. However, using third-party software for sharing files comes with many risks. Educate yourself on these risks and take the necessary steps to keep your company’s files safe and secure.