Bringing the enterprise out of the shadows

Ian McEwanIan McEwan, VP and General Manager, EMEA at Egnyte discusses why IT departments must provide employees with secure, adaptive cloud-based file sync and share services, or run the risk of ‘shadow IT’ — inviting major security vulnerabilities and compliance issues within organisations.

The advent of cloud technology has brought a wide range of benefits to businesses of all sizes, improving processes by offering on-demand, distributed access to the information and applications that employees rely on. This change has not only made IT easier for businesses, it is also fueling new business models and leading to increased revenues for those making best use of the emerging technology.

The cloud arguably offers a business the greatest benefit when used for file sync and share services, allowing users to collaborate on projects in real-time, at any time on any device from any geographic location. File sync and share makes email attachments redundant, allowing businesses to reclaim and reduce the daily time spent by employees on email, as well as the chances of files being lost, leaked or overwritten. If used correctly, IT departments can have a comprehensive overview of all the files and activity on the system, enabling considerably better file management and organisation.

Employees ahead of the corporate crowd

Unfortunately business adoption of file sharing services is often behind where employees would like it to be and staff are turning to ‘shadow IT’ – unsanctioned consumer-grade file sharing solutions. These services undermine the security and centralised control of IT departments. Businesses lose visibility over who has access to certain files and where they are being stored, which can lead to serious security and compliance problems.

CIOs need to protect their companies from the negative impact of unsanctioned cloud applications by implementing a secure solution that monitors all file activity across their business.

Secure cloud-based file sharing

To satisfy both the individual user and business as a whole, IT departments need to identify file sharing services that deliver the agility that comes with storing files in the cloud. It starts with ensuring that a five-pronged security strategy is in place that can apply consistent, effective control and protection over the corporate information throughout its lifecycle. This strategy should cover:

  • User Security – controlling who can access which files, what they can do with them and how long their access will last.
  • Device Security – protecting corporate information at the point of consumption on end user devices.
  • Network Security – protecting data in transit (over encrypted channels) to prevent eavesdropping and tampering.
  • Data Centre Security – providing a choice of deployment model that offers storage options both on premises and in the cloud and total control over where the data is stored.
  • Content Security – attaching policies to the content itself to ensure it can’t leave the company’s controlled environment even when downloaded to a device.

A solution that addresses these security areas will allow efficient collaboration without sacrificing security, compliance and control.

A user friendly, business ready solution

Furthermore, the selected solution and strategy will need to keep up with business demands and industry regulations. Flexibility can be achieved if businesses consider adaptive file sharing services that give them access to files regardless of where they are stored – in the cloud, on premises or a hybrid approach. This enables a business to adapt the service for its own changing business preferences, as well as industry standards that can dictate where data is stored and how it is shared. Recent changes to the US-EU Safe Harbour regulations which determine how businesses from the US and EU must share and keep track of data, highlight the necessity for businesses to have an adaptive file sharing solution in place to meet the demands of new regulations,  or else risk heavy fines and reputational damage.

The final hurdle towards successful implementation of a cloud-based file sharing service is ensuring user adoption through simple functionality. If a service isn’t easy to use, staff may find themselves falling back on shadow IT services due to convenience. It is important, therefore, that IT seeks solutions that can be accessed across all devices, and can be integrated with other popular applications already in used within an organisation.

The integrity and privacy of a business’ information requires a secure, adaptive cloud-based file sharing solution that gives organisations comprehensive visibility and control across the lifecycle of its data. Overlooking the security implications of shadow IT services can result in a company incurring significant costs – not just in financial terms, but for a company’s brand, reputation and growth potential. It’s time for IT departments to act now and adopt cloud services that enable efficient collaboration, mitigate any chances of risk and lift the shadow from corporate data.