Users seem to be everywhere and they can carry their compute in multiple forms (laptop, tablet, smartphone) at all times. They also want to have their files, the subset corporate data they work on, with them at all times. Also, organizations are everywhere with many remote and branch offices around the world. Those offices need access to a larger subset of corporate data. How does IT meet the demands of files anywhere and on anything, while still maintaining organizational security?
The Pain of VPN
For users it all comes down to files. They want their files with them at all times on all their devices. They also want to be able to share their files not only with co-workers but business partners and customers. The challenge is, at least from the user perspective, that the IT solution to this is to route users and their devices through a virtual private network (VPN) to access their files. A VPN makes sure that corporate data is secure and continues to provide IT with oversight as well as be able to provide users with services like data protection.
The problem is VPN client software tends to be very sensitive to the network that it is running on and many users find the software often fails to connect. Also the VPN solution in no way enables users to share files or folders with external partners or customers.
The VPN Work Around
In an effort to get around VPN fragility users will come up with their own solutions. Prior to the concept of cloud services, users first started copying all their files to USB flash drives so they could access them from other devices or hand to a partner so they could work on the files. Of course these “thumb drives” were rarely encrypted and were often lost or forgotten somewhere. Meaning all a bad actor had to do was pick it up and insert it into their laptop.
The evolution of the USB thumb drive are cloud services. File sync and share solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive and others offered the ability to sync data to all of a user’s devices. They can also share that data with anyone they want. The data is somewhat more secure than a thumb drive since at a minimum a bad actor would need to know the user login credentials and in some cases, some of these services encrypt data.
The Problem with File Sync and Share
The problem with file sync and share solutions is that all of this data movement is happening outside of the purview of IT. Users can now store their files on the cloud, sync it to all their devices, share it with whomever they want and IT may never even know the file exists. In addition most of the services offering encryption also manage the keys. Meaning that if need be, say under court order, they can unlock any data they store and provide it to the requesting party.
There is a tendency on the part of some IT professionals to simply ignore the potential problems with Shadow IT. They take the stance “it’s their problem now.” While to a overworked IT person this seems reasonable, the truth is the organization is exposed and eventually the ambivalent approach will come back to haunt IT.
Instead IT needs to be proactive and provide a file service users will love and will secure organizational assets. To learn more about achieving total file security while providing a service that users with love join us for our on demand webinar “How to Achieve Total File Security in the Cloud – 5 Must-Haves!“.