Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive — these household tech brands are great tools for simple file sharing and collaboration. But do they belong in a business setting? Research says no. Here are 10 problems with consumer-grade file sharing apps, and how they may be harming your organization.

1. Lack of monitoring and security features

Most consumer products such as DropBox or Google Docs are meant for collaboration and easy consumer use. So, when building a user platform, the goal was efficiency not security. As a student, I don’t have a problem using my Google Drive for my history class presentation. But this same platform should not be used to handle financial documents or legal information due to a lack of data management.

Enterprise-grade file sharing tools include features that allow IT managers and administrators to monitor for rogue or abusive users. Activity logs are helpful for monitoring for suspicious activity, such as a sudden increase in file activity. In many cases, these logs are used to detect ransomware attacks or data breaches. Furthermore, options such as AES encryption can counter breaches and abuse of any data that is lost.

In highly competitive industries, managing risk is essential for keeping intellectual property safe and revenues flowing. According to Skyhigh Networks, 92% of companies have their credentials for sale on the dark web due to rogue employees or hackers finding credentials in places such as emails or servers.

2. Loss of full control of data

Your data is not your own. When you use consumer-grade solutions your data can be hosted anywhere on the planet. Taking the risk of data loss or a breach with business-critical information is not a smart choice. Google Drive is also always adjusting their terms and conditions, so any privacy adjustments will most likely go unnoticed. It took weeks for a user to find this little term back in 2012.

“Some of our Services allow you to submit content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”

Once the word got out, users started complaining and Google had to modify the terms to subdue the consumer backlash.

3. Not made for compliance

Healthcare providers, hospital contractors, and financial organizations are familiar with the standards set forth to protect Personal Health Information (PHI) or identification information.

Anyone who contracts or interacts with PHI must be HIPAA compliant in their file sharing and servers. Without going into too much detail, HIPAA compliance requires security features and transparency for IT administrators. For more information on what is exactly required for HIPAA compliance read more here.

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4. Not built for administration or visibility

One of the root causes for a lack of compliance is the lack of visibility and administration. An enterprise organization needs to invest in quality IT staff who can exercise their best judgment and expertise.

Consumer products offer base-level transparency such as viewing who edits a document and simple permissions. On the other hand, enterprise-grade products expand on these features. For example, SmartFile’s platform allows managers to control permissions on a granular level.

Not only can a file owner control how long a client can access information on a URL, but a Systems Administrator can ensure everyone in the company (even the CEO) only has access to the information necessary to complete their work. This lessens the effectiveness of some ransomware strains that “feed” on accessible information.

5. They can get hacked, too

In 2012, Dropbox was victimized by a phishing scam that took internal information that allowed access to several Dropbox accounts. After finding the source of the issue, Dropbox had to develop more safety features to mitigate the damage.

This reactive approach shows that consumer products aren’t concerned with the latest viruses, or security. Their focus is in the consumer experience. This is not surprising, and, in fact, makes sense as Dropbox sources revenue from happy customers who store various photos or basic documents. However, business-grade platforms will be more concerned with cybersecurity inherently because of the information stored in the platforms.

6. Shadow IT

Bring Your Own Device is the new file sharing medium for employees. One-third of tech purchases in a company are made by people who don’t report to the CIO. Employees bringing in consumer grade products opens up a host of problems for a company.

In fact, 35% of data breaches are caused by employee negligence, such as user low-security products or infected removable storage media. Combating Shadow IT requires conducting audits, providing practical alternatives to consumer products, and increasing communication.

7. Sync can suck

Many consumer products such as OneDrive rely on sync. And as a campus WiFi victim, I can personally tell you that sync sucks. Sync leads to a host of issues between conflicting versions of a document (especially when some editing has to be done offline), slow upload time in bad connections, and even accelerating encryption viruses such as .locky ransomware. Unless sync is vital for company operations, it is best to cut it out of the picture.

8. Operator error – coupled with no oversight

Remember that statistic I mentioned above? 35% of data breaches are employee negligence or error. Yes, “operator error” could be the reason your business files might one day be compromised.

To make matters worse, consumer products don’t allow for IT oversight to help solve those error moments. Instead of having access to the system or overriding errors, IT managers must now troubleshoot on an individual basis. And with the average organization having 175 collaboration tools and 61 file sharing services, this means valuable IT money and resources down the drain.

9. Not built to integrate into your existing infrastructure

Running an efficient business requires strategic allocation of resources. Consumer-grade tools don’t add value to the organization but tend to suck time away from IT personnel.

SmartFile’s on-premises solution integrates directly into your network and adds enhanced security for file sharing and storage. Furthermore, SmartFile is HIPAA compliant, so if you ever anticipate contracting in the healthcare industry, SmartFile has you covered.

10. Lack of personal branding

While the most trivial of these problems, branding helps bring a professional polished look to clients and leads. When sharing a secure link with a client, the landing page will appear with your branding choices such as logo and color scheme. (picture of branded portal?)

Why settle for loose ends? File sharing in business requires enterprise-ready platforms that are built for heavy lifting, and keeping your data safe. Don’t risk it with consumer products. If you think you need a switch, we have a gift just to make your life easier, a SmartFile free trial. Click here to start.

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“We choose SmartFile because it is user-friendly, easy to setup, quick, efficient and customizable. SmartFile has made sharing files with our contacts, clients, consultants and between associates a whole lot quicker and easier.”

— Thanh Ly, Senior Database Administrator, Albert A Webb Associates

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About Victoria Shaw

I'm the Marketing Intern at SmartFile, and a Junior Marketing major at Anderson University. I enjoy crafting content while listening to musical theatre soundtracks and eating sushi (or chocolate). Thank you for reading my post! P.S. I graduate in just over a year, so if you need a high quality marketing team member, I'm your gal;)

1 thought on “10 Problems with Consumer Grade File Sharing”

  1. Hi, thank you for this post I agree with you that Most consumer products such as DropBox or Google Docs are meant for collaboration and easy consumer use. So, when building a user platform, the goal was efficiency not security. very useful information

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