Online file sharing may be harmful to SMEs, according to new research. Image courtesy of sxc.hu
this week announced the findings of its 2012 SME File Sharing Survey,
which revealed that as online file sharing becomes increasingly common as a business practice,SMEs
are more at risk than ever before. SME employees are increasingly adopting unmanaged, personal-use online file sharing solutions without permission from IT, part of the broader trend of the consumerisation of IT, in which the adoption of online services
for use on personal mobile devices
blurs the lines between work and play. These early-adopter behaviours – like those driving the use of file sharing technology – are making organisations vulnerable to security threats and potential data loss
“Today’s information-savvy and collaboration-hungry SMEs have the technology they need to do business at their fingertips – more so than ever before yet they are challenged by the very real threats of security risks and data loss,” said Rowan Trollope
, Group President, SME and Cloud.
“In fact, because of the importance of connectivity and collaboration through web, email, social networks and online applications, their behaviour and early adoption makes them four times more at risk of malware attacks than their larger counterparts. Cloud data storage
has many inherent benefits, but it’s critical that SMEs can trust that their data is safe in third-party data centres - from protection of data at all layers in the security stack to how encryption keys are managed and if controls are in place to prevent unauthorised access to confidential or proprietary information.”
- Employees influence adoption of file sharing solutions internally: SME stakeholders recognise that file sharing helps drive productivity among employees. Seventy-four percent of respondents said they adopted online file sharing to bolster their own productivity. Also, 61 percent of respondents reported employees to be somewhat-to-extremely influential when it comes to adopting file sharing solutions internally, on par with mobile device usage (63 percent), PC/laptop/tablet usage (64 percent), and social media usage (53 percent).
- Security and data loss are potential file sharing risks: Many respondents recognised the potential risks that poorly managed file sharing practices can bring into their organisations. Among respondents, risks cited as potential concerns included sharing confidential information using unapproved solutions (44 percent), malware (44 percent), loss of confidential or proprietary information (43 percent), breach of confidential information (41 percent), embarrassment or damage to brand/reputation (37 percent), and violating regulatory rules (34 percent). Moreover, the lack of policy enforcement also enhances risks for many respondents as more than one-fifth (22 percent) of respondents have not implemented policies restricting how employees can access and share files.
- File sharing behaviours could expose SMEs to risk: Employee behaviours around file sharing indicate further potential for security risk. When asked what employees might do when they need to share a large file, respondents indicate they would either ask IT for help (51 percent), use a solution suggested by a customer, contractor or partner (42 percent), utilise the IT system in place (33 percent), or search online and download a free solution (27 percent). Furthermore, 41 percent indicated damaged brand reputation was a concern when it comes to file sharing.
- Files are getting bigger: Many of the files shared internally and externally are significantly increasing in size. One in seven (14 percent) respondents reported the average size of files currently shared by their organisation to be more than 1 GB while three years ago, only 6 percent reported the average file size to be more than 1 GB.
- SMEs are more distributed: Respondents indicated the number of employees working remotely and/or from home has gradually increased over the past three years, and the number is projected to increase. Respondents predicted that one year from now 37 percent of SME organisations will have employees working remotely (up 22 percent from three years ago and 32 percent today), and 32 percent will have employees who work from home (up 20 percent from three years ago, and 28 percent today).