Secure file sharing for small businesses

As a small business employee or owner, you often need to share files with coworkers and clients. But is your current method of file sharing secure? Are you keeping important records and sensitive data protected and safe? 

Let’s explore the ins and outs of secure file sharing.  

What is secure file sharing? 

File sharing is simply the act of sending files to someone else. In the past, you might have shared files by attaching them to emails. Then, they might add edits and send the files back to you and so forth. 

You might have even used a file-sharing site. Both of these methods pose numerous security risks. 

Secure file sharing is the act of sharing files so that they are protected from online threats and only accessed by people granted permission by the owner. Cloud storage services offer secure file sharing and protection with the following security features: 

  • Permission-based access 
  • Password protected access 
  • File encryption 
  • Suspicious login activity monitoring  
  • Virus scanning  
  • Ransomware detection 
  • Two-factor authentication 
  • Expiring-sharing links 

These security features help to ensure that only people with permission can access the file. Additionally, they help to protect your files from hackers, malware, and other online threats. 

What types of files should be shared securely? 

Ideally, all of the files your business shares internally or with clients should be secured. File sharing works for any business files, which includes: 

  • Legal information 
  • Financial data 
  • HR or personnel information 
  • Private worker information 
  • Secret projects 
  • Merger or acquisition plans 

Secure file sharing protects your files from inappropriate access, bad actors, ransomware, viruses, and online threats.  

Secure file sharing methods 

Cyberattack victims are small businesses 58% of the time. Cloud storage providers are well aware of this problem. They know that data and file security are serious concerns. Many include the following features to help protect your files: 

  • Password protection. You can send links to password-protected files. Only recipients who know the password can access the file.  
  • Expiring links. Expiring links revoke access after a certain amount of time. They allow recipients to access files for a limited amount of time. 
  • Varied permissions. With file access permissions, you select who can view, comment on, edit or reshare files. For example, you limit access to one person, a group, all company employees or anyone.   
  • Version history. Someone might add unwanted edits to your shared file. Version history lets you restore a file back to a prior draft. 
  • Recycle bin. You might delete a file without meaning to. In this case, you can restore files from the recycle bin
  • Mass file deletion protection. You might delete a large number of files by accident. If so, your cloud storage provider will send an alert. It will also list the steps to recover those files. 
  • Activity monitoring. Providers watch for and block suspicious sign-in attempts. Automated surveillance prevents unauthorized access to your account. 
  • Encryption. With cloud storage, a type of cipher code always conceals your files from prying hackers. 
  • Virus scanning. Files are scanned during the download process for known viruses. 
  • Physical protection. The data centers where your content is stored have security officers and motion sensors. They also use video surveillance and intrusion detection alerts. 
  • Network protection. The networks inside and outside of data centers have firewalls. These limit traffic from unauthorized locations. 
  • System monitoring. Software teams monitor and fix security concerns as they arise. 
  • Vaults. You have to verify your identity before you access these secure folders. They protect files in case someone accesses your device or account. 

How to further safeguard cloud storage files 

Cloud storage is secure. Even so, you can take more steps to protect your files both in storage and on your devices. You can:  

Create a strong password 

A strong password is a powerful first line of defense. It can stop unauthorized people from getting to your files. Your password should: 

  • Be eight characters or longer 
  • Contain no complete words 
  • Include no usernames or real names 
  • Differ from your other passwords 
  • Use uppercase and lowercase letters  

Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication shields your account from hackers. It is part of an advanced login process. Your cloud storage provider will send a code to your phone, email, or app. Then, you can enter it and access your files.  

Enable file encryption on your mobile devices

Your provider can encrypt the files you keep on your iOS or Android mobile app. This encryption protects your data when someone else uses your phone. If your phone is hacked or stolen, encryption can give you peace of mind. It is a must-have if you store files on your phone. 

Working together on shared files 

Collaboration takes up most of our time at work. With that in mind, cloud storage services offer features to help teams work together on files. All changes or comments to files sync in real-time, so team members are always working on an up-to-date document.  

There are a number of things recipients can do with shared files. Those include: 

  • View. Any person you’ve shared the file with can view it. They don’t need to sign-in to the cloud storage platform to do so.  
  • Download. People with whom you’ve shared the file can download it. If you want more security, you can choose to block downloads.  
  • Edit. With full editing permissions, your recipient can edit your document. It’s best to enable track changes before sharing, so you can later approve or reject edits.  
  • Comment. People with file access can add and reply to comments in your file.  
  • Collaborate. Multiple people can edit your file at the same time with real-time collaboration. All changes to files will sync in real-time and update automatically for all editors. 
  • Share. People with editing permissions can share your file. However, people without editing permissions can forward your link if they choose. Some services allow you to disable sharing for users. 

Choosing a secure file sharing solution 

There are many file sharing options on the market. As you review your choices, look for these must-haves:  

  • Security options. Choose a solution with robust security options. Links protected by passwords and permissions are essential. Links that expire are useful if you share with outside partners.  
  • Encryption. Your files need to be safe when you share them and while they sit in storage. Choose a provider that utilizes encryption.  
  • Ease of use. Your storage solution needs to be user-friendly. You should be able to quickly share, receive, and work with team members on files. Plus, you should have no trouble changing permission levels. 

Secure file sharing for your team 

File sharing speeds up projects. But without extra precautions, your data can be at risk. Secure file sharing streamlines your team’s workflows and keeps your files safe.  

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation..