File Sharing top SMB security risk

June 20, 2012

With the growth of cloud-based file sharing programs in both the consumer and business marketplace, SMBs find themselves more exposed than ever, according to a study by a software security company.

File sharing on commercial services lacks the data protection that software-as-a-service options developed specifically for enterprise use provide, but has still become an increasingly common business practice for SMBs.

Security versus productivity
Many companies saw the adoption of cloud-based file sharing services such as Dropbox come out of a desire for increased productivity. As CIO Insight noted, even companies that do not officially use cloud computing- and will normally lack a firm policy regarding cloud data security - face the threats that accompany the unsecured services. When attachments may be too big to send via email, the services may be used, though in an unofficial capacity.

The security company found that 74 percent of SMBs adopted online file sharing, seeking a boost in productivity. These moves came although 22 percent of companies lack any firm policy with regards to accessing and sharing files. Various security risks gained recognition from companies using these policies in the study, such as exposure to malware, utilizing unapproved services and damaging the brand or reputation.

Banning services
Some companies are taking steps to ensure that their employees don't risk either the company's reputation or its sensitive data. IBM banned all 400,000 of its employees from using Dropbox or similar services while on the corporate network. according to InformationWeek. Although the services are largely considered safe for personal use, the risks they could pose with company data on the line was enough to institute the ban as a matter of data loss prevention.

While IBM has the clout and means to institute an in-house solution to meet employee's file-sharing needs, not all companies can afford to be in that position. The commercial services offer a solution that is kind to SMBs' bottom line, even if it can present minor security issues. For many companies, it is a risk they are willing to take.

More mobility
Employees' need for file sharing capabilities is directly tied to a growth in mobile work, according to the study by the security company. Predictions of the study anticipate 37 percent of SMBs will have remote employees in 2013, a 5 percent rise from 2012 and 15 percent rise from 2009. Work from home will increase as well, up to 32 percent from 20 percent three years ago.

-McAfee Cloud Security