May 30, 2018

    7 Essential Control Features Needed for Secure File Sharing

    When people search for a secure file sharing solution, there are a few features that they tend to focus on, like price, cloud options, implementation timeline, and more. But, control features are an essential aspect of a secure file sharing solution that you should consider, too.

    Whether your organization has 20 employees or 2,000, it’s impossible to monitor all of your employees’ work habits at all times. How can you ensure everyone is handling data in alignment with your security policies? That’s where control features come in. You can preset these controls to make sure everyone using your secure file sharing solution is accessing data the right way.

    Explore a few of the most important control features you should look for in a file sharing solution, and learn why these are vital to your file security.

    1. User Permissions

    Restricting who can access your files and when is great. Restricting down to the user level is even better. Not all of your users need access to every piece of information stored in your file sharing solution. Some data is too sensitive and some just isn’t pertinent to their work.

    One important user permission-related access control you should look for in a secure file sharing solution is the ability to set specific access limitations on a user-by-user and on a folder-by-folder basis. When you have this level of control, you can determine exactly who needs to see what information and for what purpose. You’re better able to protect your files, and in the event of a breach, you can always change the permissions if needed.

    You also need a secure file sharing solution that allows you to determine who has accessed, downloaded, uploaded, deleted, or copied any of your files. This important only for making sure essential files aren't accidentally deleted, and it also helps you track the source of a data compromise.

    These user level permissions ensure those in your organization who need to be altering your files are the only ones who can. It’s a crucial aspect of your file security.

    2. Secure Protocol Enforcement

    When it comes to file sharing, many users have minds of their own, using the method of sharing that they view as most convenient. Security is rarely their biggest concern. Few employees realize that how they share secure data is as important as who they share data with.

    Using secure protocol enforcement, you control how users share what they share. It’s important that users only share data in a way that aligns with your company standards. With secure protocol enforcement, you can set and enforce a company standard and make sure files are only shared using a secure protocol, like SFTP or FTPS and not unencrypted FTP. So, employees will be restricted from sharing files another way and you rest easy knowing of the most secure protocols are being used.

    3. Multi-Factor Authentication

    Multi-factor authentication is an access control that is becoming more and more prevalent in the world of secure file sharing. This is the process of using another piece of unique information to verify a user in addition to their password. In everyday life, you use your debit card, which is verified by your PIN. Multi-factor authentication for a file sharing solution works in a similar way.

    Look for a secure file sharing solution that allows you to set a standard that requires users to enter a OTP (one-time passcode) delivered by SMS to their mobile device, to a connected email address, or via a TOTP app like Google Authenticator. This verifies that the person trying to use a password is actually who they claim to be. And, when you’re choosing a secure file sharing solution, select a service that allows multi-factor authentication to be determined on a user-by-user basis.

    4. Multiple Authentication Methods

    Not to be confused with multi-factor authentication, multiple authentication methods are another control to keep data secure. When you require multiple authentication methods, you’re adding greater security to your login process.

    Multiple authentication factors can include a password or SSH (Secure Shell) key. SSH-keys, like a password but more secure, are used to confirm a user’s identity by matching an internal private key to the user’s public key before file access is granted. This ensures that login information is only used on approved devices.

    5. Country Access Restrictions

    If your company is subject to ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) compliance measures, you know the importance of ensuring access is restricted to domestic users only. Country access restrictions can play a role in file sharing security for other types of companies, too. Even if you are not subject to ITAR, restricting access by country will dramatically cut down on the number of hacker attacks.

    When you can set access restrictions by country IP address, you can make sure that the only users accessing your files are known and in a secure location. So, if your business has locations in the United States, Canada, and Germany, you can deny access from all other countries. You’ll always be sure those accessing your data are doing so from approved geographic locations.

    6. User IP Restriction

    If you need to take the country access even further, you can restrict access based on IP address location. Look for a solution that can set IP restrictions on a user-by-user basis.

    So, even if employees are working remote or a user’s password is compromised, each account will only be allowed to be logged in to from a preapproved location. This also means if a device is stolen and there’s an attempted login to your file sharing solution, your data is still protected.

    7. Password Enforcement

    Passwords are one of the most vulnerable lines of security against a potential data break, and this is mostly due to human error. Weak passwords pose a major threat to any account, so it’s imperative that your secure file sharing solution provides you the ability to enforce secure passwords policies.

    Left to their own devices, your users might be comfortable having the same password for years or a too-simple password that’s easy for them to remember. When you have the capabilities to enforce your password policy, you help users avoid these mistakes. Setting standards like password edits, resets, strength, expiration and new user establishment protocols can significantly reduce the threat of a data breach.

    Before you choose your next secure file sharing solution, consider the access control restrictions you need. These features are crucial for protecting your data and making sure your users follow the necessary protocols, as well. You can’t constantly monitor every employee, but with these access controls in place, you don’t have to.


    Martin Horan

    Martin, Sharetru's Founder, brings deep expertise in secure file transfer and IT, driving market niche success through quality IT services.

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