April 25, 2019

    File Sharing Standards Your Team is Failing to Implement

    Establishing file sharing standards within your organization creates the necessary security guidelines needed to keep your data protected. However, without the proper file sharing standards in place, your data could be at risk.

    Explore some of the most essential file sharing standards you need to adopt to ensure your data is secure, and learn how these standards can improve your file sharing processes.


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    Establish a Shared File Structure

    Does your team share and store files without any rhyme or reason? With a variety of different file organization methods and solutions being used, achieving a secure, uniform process is impossible. You need a unified, organization-wide process to ensure data is stored and shared in a secure manner. When you establish a shared file structure, it will be easier for employees to find the data they’re looking for, properly store the data they’re using, and align with your file sharing standards.

    Here are a few principles you should use to establish your shared file structure:

    • Document your structure and make it accessible. Create rules and guidelines for how your storage structure should be organized. This maintains uniformity with your employees and ensures continuity when team members leave and new ones are hired.

    • Store all of your compliance documentation in a single location. This makes it easier to archive your compliance standards, and your employees can quickly reference the standards they need to use.

    • Name folders based on their function. Instead of unregulated naming practices, in which you have folders with employees names on them, you should name folders based on their function. Using division names, for example, keeps your data well organized.

    • Avoid overcomplicating your file structure. If your file storage structure is overly complex, your employees will find work-arounds (i.e., dumping files in a personal folder).

    • Don’t extend beyond three to five folder levels. Each folder level adds a layer of complication. To keep your structure simple, minimize your folder levels.

    • Maintain consistency. If you don’t enforce the file structure you have created, it will soon be obsolete. Regularly clean up your folders and check to make sure your employees are aligning with the structure you created.


    Use Consistent Naming Conventions

    As mentioned above, it’s important to name your folders in a uniform manner that’s easy for everyone to understand. However, your files themselves should also have uniform naming conventions, too. It’s important that your team members are able to discern what information is contained in a file when they are searching for it. The file name plays a big role in making information each to find.

    Use these guidelines to create your file naming conventions:

    • Ensure names are meaningful without being too long.

    • Make sure names are recognizable throughout your organization, not just within a single department.

    • Maintain consistency across your entire team, and enforce your naming convention standards.

    Create and document a consistent naming structure for your organization. Be sure to communicate these expectations to your employees, so they are equipped to maintain alignment with your guidelines.


    Configure Settings

    Not every user should have the same access to the same folders or files. Your interns don’t need to view the documents that your CEO uses each day. If you are lax with your security configurations, your data could easily be compromised.

    When configuring your file access settings, you should verify that you can establish upload, download, delete, and list permissions for every folder, every file, and every user accessing that data. This may require adopting a secure file sharing solution that offers these features for their customer’s administrators. In addition to these folder permissions, you should limit folder views to your employees that have been granted these specific permissions.

    You should also have alert capabilities to notify you when any documents are uploaded, downloaded, and ultimately deleted. This helps you track the actions of all users on your solution, ensuing that every user is a legitimate one.

    Finally, you should look for a solution that can ensure temporary links are sent to users, which will expire once the user has seen the data or after a time you have determined.


    Limit Access to Files

    Maintaining control of who can access your files allows you to make great strides toward data security. Because many data breaches are caused by carelessness on the part of employees, it’s important that you properly control access to your most sensitive data. This means putting safeguards in place to deter carelessness and protect against it. Here are some actions you should take to limit access to your files:

    • Keep your file permissions simple, like preventing anyone outside your organization or a specific security clearance from being granted access. Simple permissions will be easy for your entire team to remember.

    • Document a plan for file access permissions. Any time you document a set of guidelines, they should be shared with your employees, so your entire team can be knowledgeable about the expectations.

    • Maintain consistency in privileges. When you avoid exceptions to your file privileges, you ensure that unintended parties aren’t able to gain access. Monitor file access regularly to verify that all privileges are consistent with your policies.


    Secure Your Data

    Finally and most importantly, you need measures in place to secure your data. Simple password-gated file protections won’t keep skilled hackers out. You need a sophisticated secure file sharing solution to protect your most sensitive data, and to help you implement the security measures listed above. When looking for the right secure file sharing solution for your business, use these guidelines to evaluate your options:

    • Choose a solution that encrypts your data. Files being shared within and outside of your organization are vulnerable to interception by a hacker. However, if your files are encrypted, the hacker won’t be able to decipher the data. By keeping your files encrypted both in transit and at rest, you won’t worry about data compromise.

    • Avoid sharing files via email. Using a secure file sharing solution means that your employees don’t have to email files to share them. When you choose a top solution, your employees can share expiring links to secure files, helping them avoid the vulnerabilities associated with email.

    • Only store files on your secure solution. Providing your employees with a secure location to store files should deter them from keeping sensitive data on their devices and computers. While your files will be accessible on the could via these devices, they will be stored on your secure solution.

    With these secure file sharing standards in place, you can effectively protect your sensitive data. And, with a secure file sharing solution integrated into your organization’s processes, you’re equipped to maintain your standards.

    Learn more about data security best practices. Download this data security training guide now.


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    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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