Application Security IT Security Outsourced IT

File Sharing Best Practices

What are File-Sharing Best Practices?

File sharing is a common, yet dangerous, daily business activity. Take time to evaluate your file sharing methods to ensure that you are choosing the most secure procedures. Consider the following best practices as you decide how you will send and receive files securely:

Multi-factor authentication. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that users are who they say they are, using two or more methos to verify a user’s identity.

End-to-end encryption. Peer-to-peer methods with end-to-end encryption ensure that direct file transfers between two users are encrypted on the sending end and decrypted on the receiving end. This keeps data safe while in transit by protecting it from any manipulation or unauthorized access. Use a strong encryption specification such as the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which is a global standard for keeping online communications safe.

Limit file access by group/department. Limit access to both file folders and individual files by groups, such as departments (e.g., accounting) or job levels (e.g., associate manager, senior manager). Limit the creation of folders for easier maintenance and accessibility.

Audit access. Regularly review who has access to resources.

Expiration dates. Set expiration dates on your files so that they will not be accessible indefinitely.

VPNs. Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) in situations that require accessing public Wi-Fi. VPNs shield web traffic in a secure tunnel, making it difficult for cyberattackers to intercept.

Strong passwords. Whether you’re using a password manager or a solution that enables password protection on files, strong passwords make it more difficult for cyberattackers to gain access to your files.

Establish record retention policies. Certain industries or governing bodies have recordkeeping regulations you must abide by, so it’s important to establish clear retention policies. Even if you have no regulatory compliance obligations, retaining old and irrelevant files pose security risks, so policies should be put in place that explain how old files, and their destruction, should be managed.

Train staff on secure file-sharing. Staff must be trained on how to use the organization’s secure file-sharing methods.

Consider an integrated system. Integrated file-sharing systems that includes other key capabilities, such as email security, may help to streamline your business software.

Cloud-based services. Cloud-based services often have backups and redundancies in place to ensure you can always access a copy of your files.

Secure File Transfer Protocol. Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is one of the most common file transfer protocol in use today. SFTP is built on Secure Shell cryptography to encrypt data being transferred. This encryption is done in part by transferring information in packets as opposed to plain text, which generally leads to faster transmission times when compared to FTP. SFTP supports the use of key pairs as well as host-based authentication, making SFTP useful for sensitive data.