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Report Details Online File Sharing Risks, Trends for SMBs

SMBs need to be more vigilant about file sharing. Symantec Corp., in a new report, says that as online file sharing grows at small and midsize enterprises, so, too, are the risks.

The company’s 2011 SMB File Sharing Survey notes that

SMB employees are increasingly adopting unmanaged, personal-use online file sharing solutions without permission from IT, part of the broader trend of the consumerization of IT in which the adoption of online services for use on personal mobile devices blurs the lines between work and play. These early-adopter behaviors – like those driving the use of file sharing technology -- are making organizations vulnerable to security threats and potential data loss.

This isn’t a small problem. According to Rowan Trollope, group president of SMB and .cloud at Symantec, “A staggering 71 percent of small businesses that suffer from a cyber attack never recover -- it’s fatal. As the fastest adopters of cloud technologies, such as file sharing, SMBs need to use safe practices, especially when using a solution that might not be built for businesses. As employees increasingly adopt consumer cloud services at work, the risk to SMBs only grows.”

Among the survey’s findings: 74 percent of respondents “said they adopted online file sharing to bolster their own productivity.” [italics added] If security and IT personnel understand the benefits, is it no wonder that use of unauthorized file-sharing solutions is growing -- and expose the enterprise to risks? Among those risks, survey respondents listed “malware (44 percent), loss of confidential or proprietary information (43 percent), breach of confidential information (41 percent), embarrassment or damage to brand/reputation (37 percent), and violating regulatory rules (34 percent).”

Policies can help mitigate risks, but 22 percent of respondents haven’t implemented policies that restrict “how employees can access and share files.”

File sizes, remote worker, and adoption trends and preditions are also in the report, which is available here. No registration is required. Once the link is opened, double-click on the slideshow SMB File Sharing Flash Poll from the list of presentations at the right of the slideshow viewer.

The survey of “decision-makers” at 1,325 SMB organizations (defined as those with between 5 and 500 employees) around the globe was conducted in November 2011 but just released.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 06/21/2012 at 11:53 AM


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