Feeling Exposed? Blame External File-Sharing

5 minute read

Nobody wants to have their data stolen by hackers or targeted by a ransomware attack — but at least when such disasters occur, the victims usually know they’ve been attacked. Data breaches that result from improper file-sharing by employees, though, are much harder to detect. In fact, in one recent survey only 11% of IT managers said they were confident they’d be able to detect the loss of sensitive or confidential information due to improper file sharing practices.  

That’s a big problem, because data breaches related to external file-sharing can do real harm. At most organizations, file-sharing practices go almost entirely unscrutinized, and cloud-hosted data is completely unstructured. That means sharing-related data breaches could affect virtually any kind of data or information your organization holds, including: 

  • Customer information, from basic details such as names and contact information to credit card numbers, banking data, or log-in details 
  • Client lists and sales materials, including internal strategy documents, client databases, and commercially sensitive assets 
  • Financial reports and other board-level documents that reveal the inner workings of your organization 
  • IP assets including trade secrets, pending patent applications, and other sensitive materials 

Clearly, all of these are things that organizations need to keep careful tabs on. You wouldn’t simply post any of these files on your homepage or share them with your Twitter followers, and for good reason. But all too often, employees fail to realize that when they share files using cloud tools, they’re moving them into an uncontrolled environment over which their organization has little or no control.  

That can have serious consequences. Exposing your customers’ private data in any way is a quick way to lose both their trust and their business. Allowing your client lists or internal financial documents to become public hands your competitors an enormous advantage in the marketplace. And of course, making your IP assets freely available robs you of both the value embedded in them and of the time and money you invested in developing them.  

Such impacts don’t occur in isolation, either. If you suffer a breach relating to financial reports, that may inspire bad actors to start sifting through your employees’ shared files for other, even more valuable data, creating a domino effect as your vulnerabilities are exposed. Even if you’re able to limit the impact of the original breach and prevent further issues, your customers will quite rightly lose trust in your ability to safeguard their data, and your investors will question the stability of your company’s foundations. 

With nearly 43% of American employees working remotely at least some of the time even before the COVID-19 crisis, file-sharing is here to stay. But organizations can’t simply allow employees to drive that process without guidance, safeguards, or oversight. That’s where Dathena’s External File Sharing Management comes in, using AI-powered data classification to analyze all shared files, and give you full visibility into and control over the way your data is shared. Get in touch today to learn more about how Dathena can reduce your organization’s risk exposure. 


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