This is a guest post by Sean Flaherty. Sean is a freelance writer who covers a variety of topics on information systems, technology, and personal computing.
File sharing and digital data storage have become increasingly relevant topics for businesses and online companies everywhere, and it’s easy to understand why. Of course, the ability to store, share, and generally handle large and complex files with ease is a necessary convenience for businesses operating largely online, but the security concerns involved with this digital data are of great concern. Essentially, IT directors and administrators are now faced with a constant balancing act between implementing convenient softwares and storage systems without sacrificing security or control.
Specifically, many businesses now have to deal with the issue of “Shadow IT,” which is essentially a software or program being used by employees within an enterprise without the specific approval of the IT department or administrator. While this term can technically refer to any hardware or software being used secretly or without approval, it can now commonly be applied to the use by employees of independent cloud storage and file sharing services.
The fact is, there are now literally dozens of affordable (and free) cloud computing and file sharing services available to the masses, and because of the convenience they offer – even just for organizational purposes – many employees are inclined to use them for personal needs within an office environment. The simplest example is that a given employee might use a personal Dropbox account to save and store work files on various devices, and for easy transition from a home computer to an office workspace.
Why is this a problem for the greater business as a whole? Well, in some cases of course, problems won’t arise. However, the risks are more than most enterprises are willing to take. Information Week detailed significant Dropbox risks for businesses, from unmonitored use, to password breaches, etc.
So what’s the solution? Well, increasingly, top of the line file sharing providers are working to provide services designed for enterprise-level use. Citrix Sharefile is one great example of such a provider. A company known for outstanding file sharing capabilities and high security standards, Sharefile specifically released an “Enterprise Edition” last year. The Enterprise edition is specifically designed to allow IT directors and administrators total control over employee file sharing networks, storage capabilities, and folder access. Additionally, the service allows enterprise the option of designating “Storage Zones” – meaning determining what, if any data storage should take place on site – and picking remote storage locations.
These services, coupled with Sharefile’s already high security standards, can work effectively to combat Shadow IT as it relates to file sharing. If an enterprise can provide employees with company-approved file sharing software while also managing where cloud data is stored, concerns about independent employee mishaps or storage solutions can be alleviated.