5 Security Tips for File Sharing

Whether it’s your client’s financial data or proprietary industry secrets, your business probably deals with sensitive information multiple times a day. Keeping your files secure is crucial for protecting your clients and your company’s reputation.

The safest thing to do would be never to let these files see the light of day again, but of course, that isn’t reasonable. You need to be able to share files internally and externally, but protecting files while still making them available collaboratively can be a challenge.

Here are some tips on sharing files securely.

1. Educate and Inform

It’s important that your employees have a good understanding of the nature of the information your organization has and risks that are associated with mishandling it, unintentional or otherwise.

It may help to assess and classify the data that you handle to determine the level of security you need to protect them. Sharing a client’s tax records will most likely need to be dealt with more care than the minutes of your weekly meeting. Cybercriminals will probably not be targeting the brilliant idea for introducing casual Friday that Joe brought up 27 meetings ago.  

If you can demonstrate to your employees that cybersecurity is a priority in your organization, then they will take it more seriously. Hold training to teach your staff about the latest cyber threats and preventive practices. Make sure your team members know what files they can and cannot share outside of your business and the most secure ways to do so.

2. If You Give a Man a Phish

By the end of 2017, the average user was receiving 16 malicious emails per month. Phishing emails are becoming increasingly convincing by mirroring the look and language of legitimate companies like universities or banks.

One preventative practice you can put into place to avoid visiting fraudulent sites is to hover over links before you click on them. If the URL doesn’t match the site you are expecting to visit or looks suspicious, don’t click on it. For example, if the link says your bank name, but the URL says www.thisisascam.com, don’t click on it!

Many malicious emails also use infected attachments to gain access to your sensitive files. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know or weren’t expecting, don’t open the attachment. Even if you do recognize the sender, that doesn’t mean you are off the hook. It’s a possibility that the sender may not know the file is infected or that their email account has been compromised.

Always set your anti-malware software to scan all incoming and outgoing emails automatically, rather than manually scanning them when you see a suspicious attachment.

3. Use Better P@ssw0rd$

We’re long past the days where “password123” is secure enough for your confidential files. You need a complex password to keep your information safe. Here are a few good guidelines for creating a secure password.

  • Use 12 – 15 characters
  • Avoid using dictionary words, slang, curse words, email addresses, names, places, etc.
  • Write down a password hint (not the actual password) and keep it in a safe place
  • Use different letters, numbers, and special symbols that you’ve never used before

Even if there aren’t any character requirements for a given website or file sharing solution, you should try and match these standards on your own. The more characters and symbols your passwords contain, the more difficult they are to guess.

Once you find that perfect combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, it may be tempting to use it across multiple sites. But if a hacker is able to guess it, then they’ll have access to all of your information. You may think your password is impossible to guess, but cybercriminals have many dubious ways to crack it. And please don’t just add the number one to the end of a password you already use. You aren’t fooling anyone.

There is yet another step to making sure that your passwords are as secure and that is by changing them or updating them every 90 days. This may seem overwhelming, but I can guarantee that a being a victim of cybercrime is going to be much, much worse.

And if you don’t think you can remember all your passwords for all your accounts (and really, who could?), you might give a password manager a try. They can generate and keep strong passwords for you so you don’t have to change them manually.

4. Avoid USBs When You Can

USBs can be very helpful when transferring files from one device to another, but there are quite a few dangers that come along with the convenience. It’s so easy to lose a USB device. Think about how many USBs you’ve seen lying around, forgotten in a computer port, or have run through the laundry (twice). When you do lose one, you have no idea where that information will end up.

And if you’re the one that finds a USB, you should never connect it your computer. You may think that you are getting a free USB, but it has the potential to ruin your device. They can pick up infections when plugged into an infected computer then they can spread those infections as soon as they’re plugged into another device. If you do need to use a USB drive, make sure that you scan it with your anti-virus or anti-spyware before opening any documents or folders.

Why take the chance that your files could be lost forever? Or worse, used to exploit you and your company.

5. Use a File Sharing Solution

So if you shouldn’t use USBs and emailing and opening documents is also a risk, what can you do? Look to the experts of a file sharing solution. When you can access your files from anywhere, you don’t need to send documents back and forth constantly. Not only is your information encrypted, but with a file sharing solution, you don’t need to fear files being lost or corrupted. Your provider will be able to resolve your issues.

You also have permissions control over who has access to what file and can receive email notifications about file and user activity. And some file sharing solutions, like SmartFile, offer visual tools and detailed logs to help you understand the usage so you can identify outliers and protect your data.

With a solution like SmartFile, we can keep your files safe and your data secure. Employees might still fall victim to phishing scams or click on malicious links, but you can significantly reduce your risks and get some peace of mind when you share files with SmartFile.

Let SmartFile keep your files safe from damage and unauthorized access. Give it a try for free today — no credit card required!Sign Up

How Hosted File Sharing & FTP Help You Scale Effectively

Even with all the strategic planning in the world, you can’t really know where your business will be in the future. It will ebb and flow over time; your workforce grows and changes and so do your file storage needs. That’s why you need a scalable file sharing solution to fit your business needs.

Hard-to-scale-ware

If you’re a small business, chances are you either can’t afford or can’t justify purchasing a server for data storage and retrieval. In-house servers require you to buy hardware costing thousands of dollars that’s sufficient for today but won’t meet your needs down the road.

A growing business means more files. And more files means you need a place to put them. If you outgrow your server, you’ll have to buy an upgrade. Or perhaps you buy a server that fits your current needs, but it still needs to be maintained and updated. This can leave you high and dry if there is an issue, unable to save files and leaving you frustrated.

Or maybe even worse, you invest the money to get an expensive piece of hardware, but your small team only uses a fraction of its capacity. Buying a server yourself can waste time and money that you don’t need to waste. As a small business, you simply can’t afford it.

Customization

In a world that wants to accommodate the most amount of people possible instead of supplying their individual needs, hosted file sharing lets you get exactly what you need when you need it. Whether you have five employees or 50,000, or you need an unlimited amount of storage, file sharing hosts like SmartFile can offer a plan that works for you.

A customized storage solution can be changed if you need to scale your business up or down. Typically, your monthly fee is based on the number of employees you need the solution to support, and the amount of storage you need.

But don’t worry if you need to make a change down the road; changes can be reflected instantly on your account. Simple as that.

On-Premises Scales Even Larger

Sometimes a business outgrows their office space and has employees working across the city or state. Or maybe as a global company, you have offices in different countries. Your file sharing solution needs to also have multiple storage options.

An on-premises solution like FileHub is hosted behind your firewall and designed to grow with you. It easily integrates into your network as a self-hosted file sharing and management tool. As your processes change, you can modify the existing user interface for a more efficient workflow that works for your situation. Who wouldn’t want ease with their side of enterprise file sharing?

As your organization grows, your time will be allocated to different tasks rather than others. An on-premises file sharing solution can scale with you by providing time-saving features, such as:

  • Quarterly updates to give you the newest features and customizations
  • Advanced global search to find any file on any attached storage
  • Compliance and audit trails.

File Share and Scale

Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to help you utilize file sharing while scaling:

Use your numbers. Your company probably uses financial projections to make decisions about operations, so why not use them to help you decide how much space is sufficient or how many users will need access to the file sharing solution. Your forecasted projections can help manage the size of your account or forecast when you need to adjust.

Have someone on your team dedicated to evaluating how you’re using your file sharing account and where the inefficiencies may be. Do you have too many versions of the same document? Does your file sharing solution also hold employees’ personal documents? Letting someone help you structure and consolidate your files is increasingly important as you scale.

Finally, know when to purge. Some people find it difficult to let go of files that may be of use sometime in the future. But trust us, that instruction manual for a software that doesn’t exist anymore probably won’t come in handy. Just because old files aren’t taking up physical space on your desk or in a cabinet, doesn’t mean they aren’t wasting space.

Whether you need a simple way to share files with clients and coworkers, instant access to your files even when you aren’t at the office, a reliable data backup solution, or all of these, a scalable hosted file sharing is one of the best investments a business can make.

How We Can Help

As file sharing experts, we know how to guide you through change and growth and provide you with the tools you need to do it. Give SmartFile a try for free today — no credit card required!

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The Difference Between SFTP & FTPS and Why It Matters

In order to know the differences between SFTP and FTPS, first, you need to have a basic understanding of file transfer protocol (FTP). As secure FTP hosting providers, SmartFile knows a thing or two thousand about the ins and outs of optimally transferring files.

Just as the name suggests, FTP is used to transfer computer files between a client and server on a computer network. FTP utilizes a username and password, but those credentials are sent in an easily readable plaintext form. Since they are being sent without encryption, the credentials are vulnerable to being intercepted and stolen.

Back in the Good Old Days

When FTP was created ― which, kid you not, was before the Internet ― people assumed that internet activity was not malicious. People didn’t think we would try to hack each other or steal data, and it wasn’t created with security in mind. My, how the times change.

Since people have figured out that they can ransack others’ digital assets for pleasure or gain file sharing demanded a security evolution. And that’s why FTPS and SFTP exist today.

Well, What are FTPS and SFTP?

What is FTPS?

FTPS takes the original FTP and enhances it with a layer of encryption from SSL. While the communications can be easily read, encryption happens on both command and data channels.

FTPS also requires your connection to be authenticated with a certificate. When these certificates are signed by a trusted certificate authority, this provides assurance that the client is connected to the requested server.

What is SFTP?

SFTP is a protocol based on the network protocol SSH and assumes the server has already authenticated the client.

Unlike FTPS, this protocol encrypts the credentials and files that are being transferred in binary so that they are unreadable.

Let’s put this into layman’s terms:

  • FTPS adds a layer around the existing FTP protocol. This layer lets you encrypt your communication, letting the client connect securely to the server with no negotiation allowed.
  • SFTP allows two machines to meet, verify that both are legit, and then connect so file sharing can happen. As an extension to the SSH protocol (find that definition here), it utilizes that connection to complete any and all actions.
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SaaS Solutions Provide Higher Education with Competitive Advantage

The World Economic Forum published their annual Global Competitiveness Report ranking The United States the 2nd most competitive economy in the world out of 137, which is its highest rating in 8 years. Higher education, job training, quality of companies, market size and technological capabilities all played a role.

The contributing factors that result in a competitive economy are in and of themselves competitive as the U.S. continues to foster a culture of innovation and opportunity for success. Higher education is a good example of this as colleges and universities seek to attract students who perform well and successfully land jobs, increasing their graduation and placement rates and thus repeating the cycle.

In order to attract prospective students, colleges employ multiple approaches, including offering financial incentives and scholarships to offset student costs, creating partnerships with businesses and organizations that allow for meaningful internships and project experience, and providing opportunities on-campus for meaningful experiences and connections. In addition, colleges and universities are becoming increasingly aware of the role of technology in creating competitive advantage in both their efforts to attract students as well as how they function internally.

From a recruiting standpoint, technology is being utilized in digital marketing efforts, social media, and by taking advantage of newer software that allows inquisitive prospects to take online campus tours. All of these SaaS solutions being leveraged in the attempt to attract and gain the interest of students.

Internally, it’s equally important that technology play a role in competitive market advantage by finding solutions that allow colleges and universities to streamline processes, operate more efficiently, reduce costs, and maintain privacy and compliance standards. One SaaS solution that addresses all these is the replacement of FTP systems with cloud storage and online file sharing.

Cloud storage and online file sharing allows university administration to store massive amounts of data in a safe and cost effective way. Solutions include cloud storage as well as on-premise solutions and even hybrids. This SaaS solution also addresses privacy and compliance standards, both domestically and for foreign exchange students while also centralizing oversight by allowing for easy management and control of user access and permissions that meet the specific needs and requirements of a school’s administration and staff. Further, integrations with other products and software generally greater provide ease of use.

Whether protecting student data, segregating department files, managing access, or complying with regulations, an online cloud storage and file management SaaS solution like SmartFile meets all these needs and more.

Check out our Education webpage to see what other universities have leveraged this business solution and find out more about how SmartFile can meet your specific needs.

SmartFile as Controller and Processor

As a Controller

SmartFile needs to understand, at least partially communicate, and record internally, data on the consumers of our services (name, contact information, IP address, and billing information.)  By agreeing to our Terms of Service, users provide express consent.

We do not use tracking cookies, nor do we sell or transfer any of this data to third parties. We use third parties for certain supporting services.  Currently, these include our helpdesk, subscription management, and marketing systems.

Our security standards are compatible with GDPR, and available here. Our data breach policy is available here.

As a Processor

SmartFile is a file storage and management service serving business customers. The two ways our service is utilized are in the cloud (on our servers) and with our on-premise solution, both of which are where files are uploaded for storage and management. Our customers (controllers) control and determine what data and files are uploaded (some of which may contain personal data), who has access and rights to those files, and how long the records are stored. SmartFile, as an enterprise supporter and service provider, does its part to ensure appropriate safeguards and measures are in place that underpin these functions.

 

Secure Processing

Article 32 of the GDPR addresses the security of processing activities and requires organizations to have the appropriate technical and organizational measures in place to effectively and securely process data. At SmartFile, we have always taken this role seriously and provide a multifaceted approach, some of which include SAAS 70 and HIPPA certifications, encryption in transit and at rest, and control over connections and data transfer methods. For a detailed look at our security, please click here.

 

System Resiliency

System access, stability, and resiliency are critical to the health and operations of any business. We have multiple systems in place to ensure safety to that end including redundancy, multiple firewalls, alerts, activity logs, and direct access to view system status and downtime. We even post system updates and notification to social media. To view our current system status, please click here.

 

Data Subjects Rights, Requests, and Investigations

The rights of data subjects included within the GDPR regulation is one area where requirements have become more expansive (as noted in Article 5 and 12-21). Once our customers have taken the necessary precautions on their end for express consent and notification of data collection, SmartFile can support them in assisting with the protections, access to, requests of, and general management of that data. Our customers have complete autonomy and authority to determine what is stored and for how long, who has access, and the ability to make any necessary changes and updates upon request of the data subject or according to business need. Customers can also run reports to determine what has been done with files and respond accordingly. Our customers determine what data is obtained and stored and SmartFile keeps that data secure. We also have Support and Help/Tutorials to assist in these functions. Should our customers require assistance in performing any of these functions in the regular course of business, upon the request of a data subject, or as a result of an investigation, SmartFile can help our customers respond in a timely manner. For more information, please click here.

 

Appropriate Safeguards

In Article 46 of the GDPR, the regulation speaks to appropriate safeguards being in place to ensure reasonable protections for personal data along with “enforceable data subject rights and effective legal remedies for data subjects”, especially when transferring that data to a third country or international organization. Our customers need to be sure that their business partnership with us is legal, binding, and in compliance with GDPR standards.

SmartFile addresses this in our Terms of Service and Data Processing Agreements so that our customers can maintain confidence in partnering with us. Our customer contracts are legally binding and contain language with the necessary inclusions to be GDPR-compliant. For a link to our Terms of Service, a sample Data Processing Agreement (or request for one), or to contact us directly for more information, please click here.

 

Data Breach Notification

Keeping data secure is our number one priority and one of the main reasons our customers choose to do business with us. We pride ourselves on security. In today’s world, there is always a risk of a data breach, even with the best, most up-to-date measures in place to prevent it. In the event a data breach does occur, we have appropriate policies and procedures in place to provide timely notice to our customers, and any required agency, as stated in Articles 33 and 34 of the GDPR.  You can view that policy here.

 

« Back to GDPR

GDPR Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the GDPR?
A: The GDPR is an expansive regulation established within the European Union on behalf of its citizens and overseen by a Supervisory Authority in agreement with many other countries, including the U.S., to abide by its requirements or suffer stiff fines. The GDPR is the most far-reaching privacy regulation implemented to date, both in terms of its global adherence and its approach.

Q: How is the GDPR different from other regulations?
A: The GDPR differs from previous directives in a couple ways. First, it provides greater rights to data subjects in the following ways:

  • data subjects must be given specific information as to what data is collected, what will be done with that data, and to whom (the recipient) their data may go, and provide express consent for their personal data to be collected.
  • Data subjects have the right to request what information has been obtained from them, request that any errors be corrected, take their data with them (data portability), and have their data deleted upon their request (right to erasure).

Second, whereas previous regulations may have resulted in some software or administrative changes to comply, the GDPR positions companies to take a much more proactive, end-to-end approach to security and privacy in designing systems and technology around privacy as opposed to addressing privacy in a reactive or peripheral way.

Third, the notification process of data breaches requires impacted consumers to be notified within 72 hours. The Supervising Authority must be informed as well. The notification should include what data was compromised, how and when the breach occurred, and what remediation has or will take place.=

These are just a few, but important, ways the GDPR is different from previous regulations.

Q: What does SmartFile do with my data?
A:
While SmartFile is a business-to-business model, individuals reach out to us on behalf of companies. We take consumer privacy very seriously, and we have the necessary systems and policies in place to keep their Personal Data secure. For a link to SmartFile’s privacy policy, please click here. For more information on SmartFile as a Data Controller, please click here.

Q: Can I count on SmartFile to assist and support my company’s GDPR efforts?
A:
SmartFile serves business customers. Our role is generally acting as a Data Processor for these customers, who are in the role of Controller. As a Data Processor, however, privacy is very important to us and we are prepared for GDPR. While SmartFile can’t be responsible for the GDPR compliance of other companies, we can support your business as it seeks to meet the GDPR requirements by maintaining our own internal policies and privacy efforts. We can also assist you with requests you may have for data, as well as providing help and technical assistance for using the SmartFile system effectively to manage the files you store, which may include personal data. For more information on SmartFile as a Data Processor, please E.

Q: Does SmartFile offer a Data Processing Addendum (DPA)?
A:
Yes. For more information on how customers may enter into the SmartFile Data Processing Addendum, please contact support.

 

« Back to GDPR

GDPR Definitions

Below is a list of common terms used within the GDPR regulation that we are integrating into our privacy and security framework. As you read through our policies and other information pertaining to privacy, compliance, and regulations, you can refer here for definitions of terms with which you may not be familiar. According to the GDPR Regulation:

Data Subject means an individual (in terms of GDPR, a citizen of the European Union). In the context of privacy, the data subject’s personal data is what must be protected.

Personal Data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’). An identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.

Processing means any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organization, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.

Profiling means any form of automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person, in particular to analyze or predict aspects concerning that natural person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behavior, location or movements.

Pseudonymization means the processing of personal data in such a manner that the personal data can no longer be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information, provided that such additional information is kept separately and is subject to technical and organizational measures to ensure that the personal data are not attributed to an identified or identifiable natural person.

Controller means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data; where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by Union or Member State law, the controller or the specific criteria for its nomination may be provided for by Union or Member State law.

Processor means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which processes personal data on behalf of the controller.

 Recipient means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or another body, to which the personal data are disclosed, whether a third party or not. 2However, public authorities which may receive personal data in the framework of a particular inquiry in accordance with Union or Member State law shall not be regarded as recipients; the processing of those data by those public authorities shall be in compliance with the applicable data protection rules according to the purposes of the processing.

Third Party means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or body other than the data subject, controller, processor and persons who, under the direct authority of the controller or processor, are authorized to process personal data.

Consent of the data subject means any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.

Personal Data Breach means a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.

Binding Corporate Rules means personal data protection policies which are adhered to by a controller or processor established on the territory of a Member State for transfers or a set of transfers of personal data to a controller or processor in one or more third countries within a group of undertakings, or group of enterprises engaged in a joint economic activity.

Cross-border Processing means either:

  1. processing of personal data which takes place in the context of the activities of establishments in more than one Member State of a controller or processor in the Union where the controller or processor is established in more than one Member State; or
  2. processing of personal data which takes place in the context of the activities of a single establishment of a controller or processor in the Union but which substantially affects or is likely to substantially affect data subjects in more than one Member State.

« Back to GDPR

A Roadmap to GDPR

GDPR takes effect May 25, 2018, and SmartFile is ready. We’re also here to give you some information as you navigate your own GDPR course. To assist you on your trip through GDPR compliance, we’d like to share our journey with you along with how we are committed to supporting your business with compliance.

At SmartFile, we take data protection seriously. Every customer we serve is important and so is their information.  While we serve business customers, many of our clients serve the consumer directly. Whether we obtain information directly from our customers or store it as a third party on behalf of our customer as a processor, the data we hold is important and worthy of protection and safeguards necessary to keep it secure.

Your business is important to us, privacy is important to us, and committed partnership is vital to a successful business.  We’ve prepared the following sections to explain our policies in support of GDPR.

Sections

GDPR Definitions

FAQs / Frequently Asked Questions

SmartFile as a Controller and Data Processor

Policies and Standards