6 of the Best (and Worst) Methods in Secure File Sharing

Posted by Lauren Ford on Apr 3, 2014 7:37:44 AM
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Without effective document sharing, many businesses could not operate. Whether sharing data internally or externally, organizations across all markets from hospitals to law offices, financial firms and more, depend on using the safest practices in information distribution.

Sharing sensitive client and patient information is risky, so deciding on the most secure yet accurate method is crucial. Protected yet accessible, document management software provides the very best solutions in document delivery versus standard and unsecure paper handling. Let’s take a moment to explore the best and worst methods in secure file sharing.

Standard Mail Services

Benefits: Convenience. Sending paper documents via the U.S. mail, UPS or FedEx, is one of the most commonly used methods of information sharing. In fact, 40% of the world’s mail volume is handled by the Postal Service. It is extremely convenient – the USPS runs 211,654 mail carrying vehicles nationwide – allowing you to easily send documents by simply dropping them in a mailbox.

Pitfalls: Slow and Costly. An expensive and sluggish form of file sharing (with the renowned nickname of “snail mail”) the USPS is billions of dollars deeply in debt – which could possibly lead to increased stamp and packaging prices. Utilizing mail services means you are continuing to print documents, therefore using increased levels of paper and ink. This method is proven to be extremely expensive and inefficient.

Person-to-Person Hand Off

Benefits: Instant delivery. Within the office walls, physically handing a document to another person ensures direct delivery and space for communication to share ideas unwritten. Provided the person receiving the file is not occupied, you could potentially hand-deliver a document and wait as they make the necessary edits or approvals and immediately take it back to your desk.

Pitfalls: Little Security. It’s easy to get a document into another person’s hands without any delays, but leaving them with that file may not be secure – they could lose it on a messy desk or wrongfully share it. If there ever was a mishap with a critical file, your company would need to find out who accessed what, from where and when; but there is no audit trail or history log for human interaction. Plus in order to share the file it must be printed, and from the printer’s tray anyone has free access to view its content. This method requires that those involved are in the same place at the same time, and are readily available.

Sending a Fax

Benefits: Simplicity. A company’s fax number can be easily found on a website or business card. It’s as simple as dialing a phone number and scanning a file. Practically every office has an existing fax machine, almost anyone can easily use it, and it doesn’t take long to complete.

Pitfalls: Sending to the Unknown. Users who care about the privacy of data are selective about who has access to business information – as they should be! But when you send a fax, although the recipient may be expecting its arrival, there is no telling who will physically pick up the file once it is transmitted. Sensitive information can be seen by the wrong recipient, or simply mishandled, misfiled or improperly passed throughout the office.

Email Attachments

Benefits: Expediency. Email remains the most relied on form of communication in the business world with 929 million business related email accounts worldwide. Most employees must have direct access to email for at least 40 hours of the work week. Email allows instant file delivery to anywhere in the world, and users can even structure a notification to alert senders of when a document was received and opened by the recipient.

Pitfalls: Lack of Version Control. However, emailing files presents numerous pitfalls. Because of file versions and size, many times email attachments are unable of being opened on the recipients end, causing a prolonged back and forth email chain. Email is also subject to serious security risks from hackers and those exploiting the weaknesses in computer privacy. With message forwarding and BCC, multiple copies can be in circulation unbeknownst to the sender.

File-Sharing Services

Benefits: Widely Accessible. Working with file sharing services allows users to easily (and somewhat securely) send documents and other attachments through shared servers. After uploading a file into the program, users can then send links to desired recipients so they can click, view and download those same files. This once again gives users the power to effortlessly send files to people anywhere in the world.

Pitfalls: Not Very User Friendly. Recipients unfamiliar with such services will most likely disregard the links in fear of spam and hidden malware. It takes longer to get to the file as there are certain steps to follow within the program which can be bothersome to those with less technical knowledge. Also, advanced third-party file sharing will offer increased security, but at an expensive price.

Document Management Software

The All in One Solution: Fast, Efficient, Secure. By eliminating paper based processes, document management file sharing solutions are designed to provide businesses with increased security and compliance, streamlined file collaboration, automated workflow initiatives and more. Users can select a document or design a workflow within the digital database for automatic file forwarding to other users, to a designated archive or directly into an email. Administrators can easily review files and electronically sign or stamp approved documents within the system. Plus, there is no longer a need to worry about controlling documents within an office space. With the advent of document management mobility and cloud-hosting, files can be safely accessed from anywhere and at any time.

Document management software allows critical business information to be shared instantaneously while providing strict permissions based control. With all files residing in a single repository, administrators have the power to hide specific archives so that other staff members cannot view documents specific to executives.

Further, you can prevent unauthorized users from accessing documents by implementing password-protected levels of security. If a mistake were to happen, document management systems can also determine which user is responsible and what changes or errors were made. With robust security modules, document management systems protect data from incident through configured access rights, audit trails and history logs, and pure document authentication.

Leverage the power of document management software to address client needs by safely delivering data through a secure and reliable infrastructure. To learn more, contact Square 9 today.

Topics: Paperless Office, Document Management Software, End User Experience, Security, Enterprise Content Management