Convenience has a price. URL shorteners make it easier to tweet and share links, but at what cost?

This post will examine a recent study that highlights the risks of URL shorteners with regards to your file sharing security. Keep reading to see the impact.

What is a URL Shortener?

URL shorteners like make it easy to share files via email and social media by shrinking long URLs so that they fit within a limited character count. There is nothing wrong with this technology; it does its job by making it more convenient for everyday users to share articles, non-critical files and other things.

Then What’s the Problem?

URL shorteners without link protection controls put your files at risk. In a report by Vitaly Shmatikov of Cornell Tech and Martin Georgiev, an independent researcher, they found that Microsoft One Drive, Google Maps and Bing Maps all used shortened URLs that were left unprotected. This allowed access to data that companies and individuals would rather not expose. Some of these issues, according to Vitaly, have been taken care, but a few still exist.

How Do You Balance Convenience Versus Compliance?

The big issue is that users want a quick, friendly and sometimes even branded URL to share their files. They also might want click data and analytics to be provided. IT, however, needs security for compliance, intellectual property protection and customer protection.

If you keep users from using a URL shortener, they might turn to a Shadow IT solution. If you don’t protect your data, you put your company at major risk. What do you do?

The Solution For IT and Users

The simple answer is you need to protect those shared links when they contain sensitive data. SmartFile lets you decide whether shared links need to be protected or not. Custom passwords can be set on shared links to make sure they can’t be¬†accessed by unauthorized parties. In addition, shared links can have a set expiration date to ensure that the link won’t be on the internet forever. Finally, all shared links can be deleted, ensuring that any compromised link can be fixed going forward.

In addition, the previously mentioned report listed one of their solutions was to avoid services that rely on universal URL shorteners like because it’s significantly easier to identify the keys in the URL, the pattern, etc. SmartFile uses alternative methodology to create short shared links for files hosted in our platform. This helps protect your data from bulk attacks.

When you’re looking for secure file sharing that is engineered for IT but designed for users — especially when it comes to shortened links for file sharing purposes — make sure you look at SmartFile. Try SmartFile for free for 14 days to see how it would work in your organization.

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About Curtis Peterson

I'm the Digital Marketing Manager for SmartFile who loves content, email marketing and web analytics. As a child, I built awesome websites with animated starry night backgrounds and multi-colored font headers on AngelFire and GeoCities.

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