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Safety First: 7 Things Startups Need to Know About Protecting Shared Files


In any modern business, your teams will exchange multiple files throughout the day. These files can be as innocuous as funny memes or email exchanges. Yet, they can also contain sensitive company information that hackers work hard to access.

They work so hard because the information is more valuable than gold. With it, hackers can influence the way a company makes decisions, or even land it in legal jeopardy. And one of the most common ways they access information is by targeting shared files.

When employees share files, they are actually creating an opportunity for hackers to snag information. Anything transmitted through the internet can be snagged by someone with enough know-how. It takes diligence and a company-wide emphasis on security to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Keep reading below to learn how to keep shared files safe, so your company stay productive and keep serving its customers.

1. Educate Everyone About File Sharing

Employee education is one of the best investments any business leader can make. When you support your employees as they try to get better at their jobs, you will inevitably make your company more productive. And when you invest in education around cybersecurity or hire a professional for it, you make it safer too.

You can enrol employees in a Lynda course or simply reach to a cybersecurity firm to give employees personal lessons. When employees know how to safely communicate online, you reduce your chance of information leaking. You protect yourself from the severe damage hackers can wreak.

2. Shared Files Should Be Password Protected

Shared files are uniquely vulnerable to hacking attempts since hackers can snag them as they’re being exchanged. Files that are stored on a server or on a personal computer require hackers to penetrate multiple systems before they can access them. Yet, when files are transmitted, hackers just need access to the means with which it’s sent.

That’s why your files should always be protected on some level. You can password-protect basic file formats like PDFs or Word documents. Yet, it’s better if you encrypt your files totally.

With file encryption, even if someone gets their hands on it, they won’t be able to read it. Without the right decryption key, they’ll just have a file filled with random nonsense. And that keeps your company safe.

3. Collaborate Software Can Be Used For Anything

To maximize your security, you should centralize the software your teams use to get work done. Chances are that you have different software for communications, file-sharing, and development. That needs to change.

Most collaboration software put an emphasis on file sharing security, now. After multiple, major companies were hacked, they now understand the need to secure a company’s communications. That means you can chat, share files, or even communicate with clients all from one piece of software.

Not only does that help boost your company’s security, but it also makes it more productive.

4. Ensure Your Cloud Stays Secure

Despite the option to use centralized collaboration tools, most companies still use a cloud. There are many positives to sticking with it: it offers virtually limitless storage as well as easy access. Yet, there is also one significant negative to the cloud.

Hackers know to target the cloud if they hear of a company using it. They know that by hacking a company’s cloud, they will be able to access tomes of sensitive information. All they need is the password to it, and to get they can use phishing attempts or install a trojan virus.

Protecting your cloud is one of the most important things your company should strive to do. Don’t share anything with anyone who doesn’t need access to it. And you should always monitor the activity on your cloud to make sure nothing is ever revealed which shouldn’t be.

5. Sensitive Info Needs Pretty Good Protection

Some companies deal with information that is more sensitive than basic financial details or employee records. For example, media companies may occasionally handle especially vital political information. Private companies can handle files which would roil people if ever revealed inappropriately.

Files like that should only ever be transmitted using tools like PGP. The acronym stands for Pretty Good Protection, and it’s earned that name for a reason. The program mostly takes a message and turns it into a series of random numbers and letters.

That way, if someone accesses it, they won’t be able to tell what it’s supposed to tell. The only way to understand the message is by decrypting it with a key that only the intended recipient should have. Using PGP daily will give a noticeable edge against hackers who are used to less-than-secure companies.

6. Record Who Accesses What, And When They Access It

To protect yourself from leaks and from people inappropriately accessing files they shouldn’t, you need to keep good records. Most software automatically logs who accesses files and what times they access it. And most of this information is logged on a file linked to the original file, so it can’t be manipulated.

That way, if you suspect someone may have access to a file who shouldn’t, you can’t check the logs. Not only will you be able to tell if a suspicious account accesses a file, but you’ll also be able to tell if someone’s account is behaving suspiciously. With these access logs, you’ll be able to tell if you have a problem and will be able to address it before it gets worse.

7. Be Cautious While Transmitting Files

You can’t trust everybody on the internet. The person you talk to on your messaging program may not actually be your coworker. You can never ever truly tell if someone is who they truly claim to be.

You can take steps to verify that someone is telling the truth. You can reach out to coworkers through other means, such as by email, to make sure you’re both on the same page. You can also request specific details about something before handing over information.

One you transmit a file, it may not be able to be brought back. So, be careful with what you send over since you can never be truly sure if it’s going to the right place.

Information Is More Valuable Than Money

The one thing you should always keep in the back of your mind is that information is more important than money. When hackers try to access your systems, they’re not after your profits. Instead, they want information about your company.

And the most common way they access this information is through shared files. Those files may be inadvertently shared with hackers pretending to be coworkers. They may also be outright stolen by hackers with access to the means with which it’s transmitted.

You can never be absolutely safe on the internet, but you can take steps to protect yourself on it. And the first step is to stay informed; to do that, you should just keep reading here. We stay updated with the latest information about business and technology so you can determine your next step to stay secure!