Secure Data Sharing is Critical, and People Are Alarmingly Bad at It

by SALIL GADEKAR, Egnyte

This article was originally published to the Egnyte blog on April 19, 2016.

File security has rapidly evolved to keep pace with multiplying threats. While security has improved, we are still seeing a concerning level of data loss and data breaches.

A recent survey we conducted of 2,000 people in the UK who work with web-enabled devices found that 13% have lost data at work, while 5% admitted to having experienced a data breach. How can this be remedied?

Assessing this survey, we found that user behaviors may be more culpable than any lack of security initiatives. Many IT departments do have solutions in place, but the users are not properly educated or trained to make sure these solutions work correctly.

43% of the professionals surveyed have had no data protection training at all. More than 20% shared confidential information using an unsecure file sharing platform. 14% have opened an unsecure link from their work emails, and 12% have handled work documents on public Wi-Fi.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 44% of UK IT departments don’t make it compulsory to use safe or specific data sharing platforms. That’s equivalent to treating security as optional.

Data sharing isn’t exactly a clean practice either. 7% of respondents say they have accidentally shared confidential data with the wrong person, 22% have erroneously received confidential data, and 8% of people have ignored requests to delete confidential information.

It gets worse.

8% of employees admit sharing internal or company-funded tools with people outside their organization, and 10% have shared confidential client information with people they don’t work with.

From a geographic standpoint, Northern Ireland was the least safe location for personal data. Joining it near the bottom of the list were London, Scotland and East Midlands.

At the top of the list we find the South West of England, followed by the South East, North West, and Wales.

Dismaying as some of these numbers might be, the takeaway is positive. File sharing technology is sound from a security perspective. The root cause of mishaps is simply lack of awareness. With conscious effort to educate end users, enterprises can secure their data at little real cost.

Additional measures as simple as creating a checklist of content protection recommendations and making it readily available to employees, or integrating content management best practices into onboarding, can move the needle.

In other words: buying a fancy new solution might not be the most cost-efficient answer. The solution might be as simple as teaching your employees to keep the virtual door locked!