By Ian M. Marlow
September 2, 2014
You’ve invested in firewalls, heavy-duty spam filters and other security measures to keep your organization’s network and information as protected as possible. But how do you balance that need for security with the file-sharing demands of your operation?
As noted in an Infoworld article, some of the technologies that many companies use to share data on a regular basis are disrupting the very security measures that have been put into place. Popular computer-sharing tools such as GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, and file-sharing/collaboration solutions such as Dropbox, Google Docs or MS SkyDrive are excellent in terms of their purpose; however, because they are outside the company’s network, they can pose serious threats to the security of your data. This is especially true when you must share information with external partners, potential clients or other non-employees.
Back in the old days, a person would have to be on your premises, using your computers to steal information (by copying it onto floppy drives or USB sticks). Now—even with privacy filters installed, as they often are in finance departments—anyone can download information into a cloud-based file storage program where it is available for the taking without anyone tracing it.
So how can a company protect its intellectual property in a cloud-based work environment, without sacrificing the mobility and flexibility that the cloud provides?
- Implement a virtual private network (VPN). These private data networks provide excellent protection against cyber intrusions of confidential information. A VPN tunnel is a more secure option that is set up firewall-to-firewall and allows workers to access files remotely. It can be set up site-to-site, office-to-office. Through the VPN, employees and other authorized users open a piece of software that sets up a “tunnel”—an encrypted connection to other computers’ firewalls that allow for secure transfer of data.
- Install a virtual desktop. This is an excellent alternative to LogMeIn or GoToMyPC, which allow for remote takeover of your computer. These programs make troubleshooting and file sharing very convenient but beware: they are installed on your company machines and operate completely outside your company’s firewalls and other security measures; your IT department has no ability to track who is using those programs and when (or where), making it very easy for someone to sync and steal your files. With a virtual desktop your information is stored at a data center, saved in a secure manner, and it can’t be stolen. Users access it through a dashboard with secure logins and authorizations.
- Invest in corporate software that provides file sharing. There are many corporate products available that offer Dropbox-like functionality within your company’s network security protocols. These software packages don’t duplicate data, it protects your data while allowing remote file syncing and availability of the files on tablets and smartphones. You can also control the sharing process and block prohibited users.
Don’t spend lots of hard-earned dollars on IT, and then fall under a false sense of data security. For a nominal difference in cost, you could implement more theft-proof solutions instead (and rest easier knowing your intellectual property is safer). After all, you’ve installed thousands of dollars worth of intrusion prevention software for your corporate network—why leave it open to cyber theft when you don’t have to?