When employees work from home, they need access to important company files. It’s easy to look at consumer-grade, cloud file sharing solutions like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive to assist, especially now that the majority of us are working from home. But these file sync solutions pose many challenges to businesses executives concerned about the control and visibility over company data.

These applications pose a threat to your company because company data can be spread far and wide without central oversight of what information is being shared and with whom. Furthermore, over 7 MILLION Dropbox accounts have been hacked, giving cybercriminals a path into unsuspecting company networks. Personal and individual use is one thing, but the risks of using these programs far outweighs their benefits for businesses, especially if your company has access to and/or stores financial, medical, or other sensitive data.

Many business owners and administrators are left out of the loop when an employee decides to install a consumer-grade file sync program, and are subsequently left vulnerable when they can’t control whether employee devices do or don’t sync with a corporate PC.

Use of consumer-grade file sharing programs can open the door to company data being synced across the personal devices of employees-- and by employees who may not have the clearance to do so. These devices (usually mobile) go everywhere with these employees and risk being left on busses, at coffee shops, at the gym, or your buddy’s place. Suddenly, your company data is at the mercy of whoever happens to find that device.

In addition to the possibility of theft, the risk of employees straight up losing data is also greatly increased. Evolve IP writes, “When administrators cannot manage and monitor file sync activities across an organization, they risk losing critical data. If an employee (or group of employees) adopts a consumer-grade sync solution and starts using it to sync and share sensitive files, administrators without proper oversight cannot manage data sprawl, initiate remote wipes in the case of lost devices, and are unable to guarantee that files are properly shared with the right people.” (“7 Security Risks of Consumer-Grade File Sync Services” 1/2021)

It doesn’t stop there, however. In addition to potential employee error, consumer-grade file sharing programs don’t do everything on their end to protect the integrity of your data in the event of corruption, such as copying and backing up your data to replace it, and certainly won’t claim responsibility if and when corruption or disaster occurs.

What about changes that get made, such as account information and passwords? If an employee is using a consumer-grade sync program, it can result in loss of accountability, meaning these changes could occur without ever being detected, or alerting anyone else. In addition, consumer-grade solutions don’t track who accessed what file or when, and if they do the tracking events are usually not very detailed, or are lacking important facets (such as if and when a file was renamed) and can lead to a broken access trail.

To top it all off? Consumer-grade options give full discretionary power to users and employees over the ability to permanently delete and share files. This can result in the permanent loss of critical business documents as well as the sharing of confidential data and information, which can break privacy agreements in place with clients and third parties. And speaking of privacy agreements, since consumer-grade sync solutions have loose (or non-existent) file retention and file access controls, you could be setting yourself up for a compliance violation. Many compliance policies tell employees how long certain files can be held for, how they are disposed of, and who they can be accessed by.

Using file-sharing applications like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Onedrive are a clear and direct violation of data breach and compliance policies, and will rarely take responsibility in the event of theft, corruption, or disaster.

The truth is, even though policies may be in place for employees surrounding the use of these consumer-grade file sharing programs, they will eventually find a way around them for their convenience. Especially now that most of us are working from home, we want to be able to be as productive as possible without any hiccups. The best solution for any business is to have your IT team set up and manage a company-approved, business-grade file-sharing application, that allows employees to have access to their work wherever they are, while having all the same functions of a consumer-grade file syncing program that they want, and the company oversight and protections they need to work remotely in the safest way possible.