cloud sharingUtilizing cloud storage services is the ultimate go-to for easy collaboration for businesses. The use and convenience of sharing corporate documents in the cloud have led millions of workers to use cloud-based services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft SkyDrive, which make it easy to access files from any device at any time. Upload a document to the cloud, share it, and all your colleagues have instant access. No fear of lost emails, no large compression files, and no duplicate documents with multiple versions. All the free-flying documents out there, that in many cases contain confidential information, are becoming a serious concern to many companies. Let’s take a look at four ways sharing in the cloud can jeopardize your business security.

1. Data Loss: Have you ever sent an email and it never reached its destination? You can’t find it in your Sent box or Outbox, it’s not saved in Drafts or accidentally deleted – its just gone, lost in cyberspace. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop with emails, as it can occur in cloud computing without the proper precautions. A small business can rely solely on the cloud to manage their documents. However, an employee can be fishing around and accidentally delete the new year’s financial planning document and not tell anyone, a terminated employee can download shared documents, containing trade secrets or client data, and take it to a competitor, or a cloud provider can get hacked, exposing your company’s most sensitive data. Data loss is a legitimate concern as it poses a huge risk to your business’ security.

2. Accidental Sharing: OK, so sharing is caring, right? Not always. Say you upload a new product idea and you want to share it with your business partner Rich. However, when you are choosing the names to share it, you go through the motions and accidentally select Rick, an old college friend still in your contacts from a long-ago group project. Rick gets notified of the new document, gets curious, sees your great new idea, and steals it! What can you do?

3. User Authorization: Obtaining cloud services is relatively easy, and with that comes the standard password protection. Not only that, but cloud service providers often share platforms and infrastructures, which if compromised, leaves the entire cloud environment vulnerable and exposed to potential security breaches. For a company to rely on the protection provided by cloud services and not implement any security precautions of their own, they leave all of their important uploaded documents and the business itself at high risk. Remember Rick who accidentally received your new product idea? Proper user authorization on the document itself could have prevented him from ever reading the document and thus, protecting your business’ interests.

4. Lack of Knowledge: Many companies decide on using cloud computing services without the proper due diligence. Not fully understanding the risks that can be associated with cloud computing or how to use it to its full potential, can be detrimental to a business. Not only is there the risk of accidental sharing, data loss, and insufficient user authorization, but malicious insiders, data breaches, and many other risks are plentiful in the cloud.

Take the time to research and understand what is really at risk before jumping on the bandwagon. Understand the risks that are involved and communicate them to your employees – they can be non-malicious insiders who simply use personal cloud services, such as One Drive, Dropbox, and Google Drive, to share corporate information for collaboration, not taking the proper protection protocols, and leaving the data exposed and at risk. There are new approaches to business information security on the market today that apply protection to the data itself, allowing the data to remain protected regardless of its location, even across cloud sharing services. Make sure cloud sharing is the best solution for your business’ needs, and that those who have access understand how to use it, and have the necessary security solutions in place to prevent scenarios, like the ones above, from occurring.

Stay tuned for Cloud Computing Part 3: Data Security in the Cloud – How to Safely Store Your Data.