Have you seen the hilarious “conference call in real life” video? It shows how inefficient and unprofessional a conference call can be when put into context.

You could probably make an equally disturbing “in real life” video about how some people share electronic files containing sensitive business data.

Care how you share! Are your file-sharing situations ones that would look annoying or comical and even make your IT manager cringe over lack of security, if depicted in a video, such as?

For you (as an employee)

1. Sending too big a file by conventional email?

There’s nothing quite like enduring your Microsoft Outlook account being held hostage and freezing up because someone is sending you a video, document or presentation that’s 20 GB in size. For some reason, most people don’t think that some file that is cumbersome and time-consuming to upload can be just as a big a hassle to download — and oftentimes, it’s so large that the file transfer fails. That means you may try to send it again, probably with the same result, or go through some other ponderously cumbersome means of delivering the file. Either way, you’re being inefficient with your time and that of your recipient.

Enterprise file sync and sharing solutions offer seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook that converts attachments into links and simplifies large file sharing both within and outside the organization.

Users can convert all attachments into links by default, specify minimum file size for conversion or decide on a per email basis. This feature overcomes the attachment size restrictions for sending large files and eliminates potential bounce-backs from the receiver’s email server. Employees can also request files from co-workers or 3rd parties by providing a link where the other party can upload attachments.

You can also track use of sensitive data by requiring a login to access the files. The sender can also request a download notification and prescribe an expiration policy on the file/files after which they will be no longer available to the recipient.

2. Emailing unsecured confidential and sensitive material?

In order to teach a lesson, hackers recently penetrated and distributed the top-secret emails of Sony Pictures in part because the corporation declined to use encryption. Hackers could do just the same to you, too, and adding the words “private” and/or “confidential” in the subject line will only encourage them. Sending sensitive data via email without protection is like having your car door unlocked with the windows down — it’s an invitation for others to take advantage of the situation. You shouldn’t allow anyone to have open access to your financial records or other sensitive matters.

Top enterprise file sync and sharing systems can encrypt data during transfer and storage, thus providing protection against people trying to hack into your private information. Secure portals will provide AES 256-bit encryption–the same standard used by the U.S. government to protect classified information. The data you share in your files and folders will be as secure as possible under current offerings. This is ideal for companies in regulated industries that must safeguard Protected Health Information (PHI) and other sensitive data as it allows users to send and receive confidential files with encryption to maintain HIPAA compliance and control how sensitive data is stored, accessed and shared.

3. Print — sign – scan – email – using a manual 4-step process when you need to sign a document? Sign documents electronically. Why just send and store legal documents when you can have them authenticated with e-signatures at the same time? A file-sharing system with e-signature capability ends having to deal with paperwork and track down people for signatures. Instead, you have a secure, speedy method whereby recipients can access and sign documents anywhere from their laptops, tablets or smartphones and send them back to you ASAP, making fulfilling legal obligations a breeze.

The ability to get documents signed online is an essential tool for the modern financial planner, perfect for obtaining client signatures on Advisory Applications, New Account Forms, tax forms, and more. The electronic process allows financial professionals to serve clients both near and far by replacing slow, expensive paper documents with efficient e-signatures.

For you (as an IT manager or IT admin)

4. Allowing employees to use personal file sharing accounts in the workplace?

Employees seek out and use personal file sharing services not out of malice, but to meet legitimate needs to share files for business purposes. These personal services typically provided only limited functionality and lack built-in security, but with free storage, quick installation and a simple user experience, they can seem like a good-enough solution—especially for employees who are unaware of the IT-approved solutions that might be available in the organization.

Once the employee signs up for the personal account, the problems begin. As files are shared, business data is stored outside the control of IT, potentially exposing the organization to data leakage and breaches. Consumer-grade services also lack granular file control and many compliance certifications, putting organizations at risk of compliance violations in regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services. Beyond the potential loss of confidential or proprietary information, personal file sharing services can open the network to malware, hacking and other malicious activity.

Problems like these are often compounded by embarrassment or, worse, damage to the company’s brand and reputation.

5. It’s 11 PM – do you know where your enterprise data is? And who it’s being shared with?

When an employee stores corporate data in a personal file sharing account and shares files with third parties, IT has no visibility into the types of data stored there and whether any sensitive corporate data is leaving the building. If that employee leaves the company, all the corporate data synced from their corporate desktop or laptop to their personal file sharing account can remain indefinitely accessible from any personally owned devices they may use, creating unacceptable security, legal and business risks for the organization.

Employees need these tools to be productive, so it’s up to business to keep their data safe and deploy equivalent enterprise-class capabilities in the workplace to address the online file sharing demands. An enterprise file sync and sharing (EFSS) solution provides a way for IT to secure enterprise information access and prevent the leakage that can result from uncontrolled and non-secure personal cloud services. Beyond addressing security threats, EFSS provides benefits for both users and the business by supporting bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and corporate mobility initiatives, and ultimately enhances data sharing, collaboration and productivity.

What’s the bottom line here?

The personal file sharing problem is both serious and pervasive. According to an Enterprise Strategy Group report, a vast majority (70 percent) of organizations know or suspect their employees are using personal online file sharing accounts without formal IT approval. This is a significant problem for IT organizations.

While weaning users off of consumer file sharing services can be difficult, it can also bring powerful new benefits for individuals and the organization. By delivering enterprise file sync and sharing features that are designed for business, with the simplicity and convenience of a consumer service, IT can win adoption for a sanctioned alternative that has the robust security and granular access control needed to protect the organization from risk.

People depend on business data to be productive—but when they rely on personal online file sharing accounts to mobilize data, they expose the organization to significant security risks. If IT simply blocks these accounts without providing a sanctioned alternative, business productivity will suffer, but allowing their continued use isn’t an option either. Instead, IT needs a file sync and sharing solution with the security, control and flexibility IT requires, as well as a rich, consumer-like user experience to ensure full adoption.

One thing we didn’t mention yet – what about employee mobility?  That means providing you and other employees with access to corporate data and also securing the devices that they are using.  This is equally important to the employee and to the organization.  An enterprise file sync and sharing solution must also be built for mobile users too. Organizations are driven to provide users with a true enterprise class data services across all corporate and personal mobile devices, while giving IT all the control it needs. The goal is to provide employees with data access, data sync and the security IT needs to share files from any device with people both inside and outside the organization for easy collaboration and enhanced productivity.

An enterprise file sync and sharing solution is ideal for regulated industries that require organizations to maintain specific data sovereignty, data compliance, and data security protocols, for example, HIPPA compliance, security of patient records and sensitive banking and financial data files.  Providing a secure solution allows these types of organizations to deliver the mobility for their employees as well as the IT control that’s needed to determine how sensitive data is stored, accessed and shared.

We have identified five essential criteria for secure enterprise file sync and sharing, including secure IT oversight, flexibility over where business data is stored, integration with existing infrastructure, a rich user experience and support for next-generation workspaces. Read the whitepaper to learn more:  Top Five Requirements for Secure Enterprise File Sync and Sharing