Your data at risk: Employees will do whatever they need to be productive

As data breaches continue to dominate headlines in 2011 and expose major vulnerabilities in the way organisations share and manage sensitive information, companies worldwide are demanding that their partners improve the way they send and receive files.

According to a new report, nearly two-thirds of individuals surveyed at this year’s Infosecurity Europe Conference said their company is feeling increased pressure from customers and partners to improve the speed and security of file transfers.

The successes of hacking groups like Anonymous and Lulzsec have opened the doors for boardroom conversations around information management and security. Companies are finally realising that they may be at risk and are seriously re-evaluating the way they exchange business information on a daily basis.

The problem for many organisations stems from corporate management not providing employees with suitable tools to send and receive large and confidential attachments. Without a company-mandated file transfer platform that makes it simple and secure to send and receive large files, employees are finding workarounds and throwing security and compliance out the window in the process.

For instance, nearly 50 percent of individuals surveyed at Infosecurity Europe have been unable to send business-critical documents because their company’s server couldn’t handle the file’s size. And 78 percent said that, on numerous occasions, their corporate email system’s inability to handle large attachments significantly slowed productivity.

The result: employees find risky workarounds – including personal email and remote devices to avoid the corporate information-sharing roadblocks:

  • Personal Email: 60 percent of individuals said they use personal email to send sensitive files because their company systems hinder productivity, a major compliance and security risk. And 50 percent of those people admitted to using personal email as a means to hide sensitive information from management.
  • Remote Devices: Employees are also relying on remote devices – like USB drives and smart phones – to transfer information that can’t be handled by corporate systems. More than 25 percent of employees have lost a USB drive containing confidential information. Even worse: Out of that 25 percent, 40 percent said they did not report the lost device to the IT department.

While some organisations are providing employees with file transfer solutions to overcome size constraints, too many platforms are failing to place enough emphasis on security. Less than 30 percent of companies leverage file expiration and password protection technology and only 15 percent of companies can actually confirm that their files have reached their intended recipients. At least 30 percent of companies don’t have any safeguards in place to secure file transfers.

Employees will do whatever they need to be productive, and that includes going around corporate systems to send and receive business-critical information. It’s not enough to create policies that prohibit such risky behaviour; organisations need to provide employees with a simple and secure tool that allows them to send and receive large files successfully.

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Frank Kenney is Vice President, Global Strategy at Ipswitch, responsible for defining the company's vision and strategy and integrating his global perspective into the products, services and messaging. Frank brings an unmatched depth of experience and knowledge in the managed file transfer space to the team. Most recently, Frank was a Research Director at Gartner, Inc., responsible for analysing topics including managed file transfer, application integration, SOA, and business process management. He initiated and drove the Magic Quadrants on managed file transfer and SOA governance technologies. Before joining Gartner, Frank was Director of Creative Services and Content Distribution at the Executive Business Group. Frank holds a degree in Music Technology from the Center for the Media Arts and has studied English and Computer Science at University of Tampa. When not working, Frank can be found living the life of a frustrated musician and producer in his home studio in Tampa.