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File-Sharing Can Expose Sensitive Company Data to Unauthorized Eyes

There’s a dark side to the burgeoning bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement in the nation’s workplaces: Confidential company data can be left open to unauthorized eyes. . / Credit: File-sharing image via Shutterstock

There’s a dark side to the burgeoning bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement in the nation’s workplaces: Confidential company data can be left open to unauthorized eyes.

While employees have embraced free file-sharing platforms such as LimeWire and BitComet to store or share documents using their own devices, IT administrators overwhelmingly say they haven’t been able to prevent the adoption of unauthorized applications that may not be secure or to provide viable alternative apps.

In a survey of more than 4,000 corporate employees who handle or distribute information, two-thirds of them admitted to using free file-sharing platforms at work, and among these, 55 percent said they do so without alerting their IT departments. The survey was conducted by SkyDox,  a cloud-based file-sharing platform provider.

With IT administrators not knowing which tools are being deployed, corporate assets, sensitive information and intellectual property are at risk of being distributed, modified and stored without authorization, SkyDox warned. In some cases, this can result in violations of national and international laws regarding data security, transparency and privacy.

[Corporate Data Security Too Lax, Getting Worse, Survey Finds]

Those working in professional services and financial services reported the highest usage of free file-sharing platforms (87 percent and 84 percent, respectively), followed by health care (57 percent), creative sectors (55 percent) and government (54 percent). Yet, among those working specifically in a financial job function, only 39 percent said they use file-sharing platforms. The most frequent users of free file-sharing were those whose function falls within sales (81 percent), legal (77 percent) or marketing (70 percent).

The survey also found that BYOD has solidified its standing as workplace protocol. More than three-quarters of information workers (77 percent) said they use their personal mobile devices or tablets for work. Those working in professional services (92 percent), financial services (86 percent) and health care (84 percent) sectors reported the highest BYOD use, while those in government (38 percent) reported the lowest. All the companies represented in the survey, ranging from 200 to more than 2,000 employees, reported BYOD use at over 50 percent.

"There is an increasing need for workers to share information seamlessly and efficiently beyond the corporate firewall, with distributed teams and while on the move," said Ali Moinuddin, chief marketing officer of SkyDox. "There is also, however, an increasing proclivity for those same workers not to realize the potential dangers they are putting their company in by doing so with tools not sanctioned by their IT department.

"The burden now falls on IT departments to provide tools to enable collaboration and file-sharing without compromising corporate and legal policies surrounding data security."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.We're also on Facebook & Google+.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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