8 Critical Requirements for Secure, Mobile File Transfer and Collaboration

Date of Publication: 
August 2011

Enterprises are more geographically distributed than ever before, and the pace of business gets faster every day. Online collaboration has become a business necessity— there’s no other way for distributed teams to work as quickly and efficiently as business demands.

Users are embracing this fast pace of work and the ―anytime, anywhere‖ model of data access that goes with it. They’re accessing email, file sharing, and other collaboration services from almost any device, especially iPads, which few enterprises have authorized for use. And they’re accessing this data from all kinds of locations, including home offices, client offices, coffee shops, airports, and public parks.

Determined to make data access as fast and easy as possible, business users are also signing up for dropbox-type file sharing services, without the knowledge or approval of their IT departments. The services are usually inexpensive or free, so no purchase- authorization process is necessary. A minute filling out a web form, the click of a Submit button, and users are online, sharing business data with colleagues and other users, as well.

Unfortunately, these ―free,‖ convenient services are dangerous: they pose serious data security and compliance risks for the enterprise. Designed originally for home users or small businesses, these services typically lack enterprise-grade security features such as role-based access controls, data encryption, and audit logs. Enterprises need these features—and others, as well—in order to protect confidential data, to prevent data breaches, and to ensure compliance with industry regulations such as SOX and HIPAA.

Mobile access makes meeting these security requirements all the more difficult. A secure file sharing solution must be able to work with the wide variety of mobile devices that business users are carrying, including personal devices owned by employees, as well as business devices tested and configured by the IT department. Many users carry multiple devices—for example, a BlackBerry issued by the IT department, along with an iPad for personal use. A secure file sharing solution must be able to support all these devices without requiring the enterprise to hire an army of technicians to install and maintain special security software on every mobile device that might potentially access enterprise servers.
How can enterprises ensure that, no matter what mobile devices employees are using, they have secure, auditable access to business data and vital collaboration tools they need? How can they make mobile access to secure collaboration an extension of IT infrastructure, rather than an operational encumbrance?