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.