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Digital Management: How to Implement Safe File Sharing Practices in a Consulting Firm?

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Share.Place
Company
October 15, 2018

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As a manager of a team of consultants, keeping your clients’ information safe when file sharing occurs daily can be difficult. Sensitive information can inadvertently fall into the wrong hard drive or database. Have you ever wondered whether your team’s collaborative practices were secured enough? Or do you simply trust that they are?

Efficiency and Security, an unlikely couple?

Since the Snowden affair and in light of recent events, data security has never been a bigger concern. Meanwhile, consulting firms are giving remote workers greater freedom and flexibility through a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. Collaborative tools have made file sharing so accessible and intuitive, requiring little to no training, that cloud-based systems, like Dropbox, Wetransfer and Google Drive, have taken over collaborative habits. But in recent years, fingers have pointed them as threats to data security, driving many firms to blacklist free and personal file sharing apps. Has efficiency given data safety a deadly blow?

Safeguarding Collaborative Processes

If you are reading this, you are certainly concerned about the way your teams share files internally. Rethinking the consulting firm-wide policy is a considerable undertaking, but you can start at your level. Get you started today.

Monitor File Sharing

Start by observing data communication habits, compare teams and projects and determine recurring security weaknesses. Conduct a quick survey:

  • Ask for input from consultants with different workflows and roles.
  • How do consultants most often access data? Is it secure?
  • Do consultants share files amongst themselves via several email addresses?
  • Do consultants download or duplicate files onto personal or devices?
  • Suggest a company-wide IT safety audit, if you think the whole firm can benefit from it.

Implement a Classification System

One of the first steps toward securing information is controlling access while making sure everyone has the information they need. Classify each set of data in three access levels: restricted, confidential and public. This way, every time a new set of data appears, you can consistently organize it and categorize it. Segmentation gives team leaders authority, meaning sensitive information is only shown to those who require it.

Adopt Better Data Encryption

When dealing with sensitive data sets, passwords and access rights aren’t enough. Blockchain technology helps keep information safe from user A to user B: the broken down data set is securely encrypted and transferred to the right person. A bonus for team managers, version management, based on blockchain principles, tracks all data interactions. This means managers can follow a document’s evolution through a step-by-step engagement history, including file duplication and downloads.

Stop Sharing Through Sending

Peer-to-peer storage (P2P) storage shares documents within single secured platform. A safer version of cloud computing, files are saved in multiple blocks, or machines, avoiding the easily hacked central network. This means no more email attachments with sensitive information. Put an end to long email threads and endless forwarding onto other team members.

Other Healthy Practices for File Sharing

  • Add watermarks to files and videos
  • Impose limits on file viewing, printing, and forwarding
  • Update usernames & passwords regularly
  • Review consultants clearance on a monthly basis or set expiring access rights

 

Data Safety is a People Issue

What we forget is that technology was invented by humans, which is also the common denominator in effective collaboration and successful teamwork. Start with your teams by educating consultants about best practices and their importance. Creating a sense of responsibility, rather than imposing a new process, fosters deeper and long-lasting change.

  • Run training sessions to implement best practices
  • Dedicate a channel to security questions in your internal instant messaging service.
  • Make a team member your safety ambassador so to keep the dialogue going.

 

Secure file sharing within a remote team environment, like that of a consulting firm, can be a real challenge. If you do not possess a reliable file sharing system, now might be the time to adopt one. When faced with a threat, the first natural response is to seek control by tightening company policy. But is forcing consultants down a dark tunnel of IT compliance really the way forward?

Choose a system that won’t get in the way of carrying out your consultants’ day’s work. Share.Place offers easy and fun, yet secure online collaboration through its blockchain-based software. Want to know more about how to best secure your daily collaborative habits? We’re here to help!

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