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Working in the BYOD era

With more professionals storing and sharing files in the cloud Andrew Millard, senior director marketing, EMEA, online services division at Citrix, looks at the need for secure, business-oriented file sharing systems that give business users mobile and remote access to all sizes and types of file – without risk to business data

The cloud has had a transformational effect on personal and professional file sharing. Whether we’re collaborating with colleagues, clients and third-parties or working remotely, our increasingly fluid, mobile workstyles have increased the requirement to share and access documents on the go.

Driven by employee demand and to maximise potential cost-savings, the continuing BYOD movement shows no sign of slowing: in the UK alone, as many as 47 per cent of senior executives and managers surveyed by YouGov on behalf of Citrix said their employees are already using their personal devices for work. Globally, Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes.

For this growing number of smartphone and tablet users, cloud-based file storage and transfer tools can present a more convenient alternative to insecure email or complex FTP. As well as internal file sharing, business-oriented file sharing platforms also offer professional users a secure means of collaborating with external partners and customers.

Among the biggest advantages of using a dedicated file sharing solution over email or a free file-sharing alternative is that it opens-up the possibility of creating a custom-branded space for the exchange of business files, including very large files of up to 10GB, such as recorded meeting or webinar sessions. However, even more crucial is the robust protection and controls that such secure, business-oriented tools offer.

Rather than mobile-empowered employees accidentally exposing data to potentially damaging security threats, a good cloud-based file storage and transfer solution will afford them the freedom to work and collaborate with others without the risk of exposure. Key features may include, for instance, providing each user in the system with a unique login and protected password.

Protection can also be afforded through the use of inbuilt anti-virus software that automatically scans all uploaded files. Any files that are flagged as potential viruses carry a warning symbol and notice within the application, alerting users to a possible threat before they attempt to download the files.

Secure file encryption protocols such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) also go a long way to protect all new file sharing communications. Meanwhile, resting files can be stored using AES 256-bit encryption – the same industry-standard protocol used by online banking and popular ecommerce services for secure communication over the web.

For managers and IT teams, it’s also worth considering that unlike many on-premise servers, the data centres which power business-oriented file sharing solutions are likely to be operated according to strict security procedures, with access subject to two-factor authorisation and dedicated firewalls which scan for and protect against malicious threats.

Primarily, the main purpose of business-oriented file sharing tools is to empower employees to access the platform anywhere and from any device, enabling them to store, share and access files securely. However, alongside user-driven and collaboration benefits, there are also important advantages offered in terms of backups, disaster recovery, redundant file storage and protection against the accidental deletion of files.

In the event of natural disaster, fire or any other unexpected event, multiple backup measures are deployed by the service provider to minimise data loss, with files also backed-up to a disaster recovery centre every few hours.

The sinking feeling when a crucial document or presentation is accidentally deleted can also be avoided using professional file sharing, with a ‘recycling bin’ feature providing access to copies of all deleted files for a set time before they are permanently purged from the backup and file recovery centre.

Despite the best efforts of IT teams, the requirement to navigate existing firewalls and integrate with legacy systems and applications remain huge barriers to mobility. As the latest Citrix/YouGov executive research study confirms, it’s an issue many are still struggling to get to grips with: 29% of those polled said they worry about allowing application and document downloads and 26% remain concerned about allowing remote access to the corporate network.

Rather than attempt costly IT upgrades – or risk users finding their own ways to store, send and access files – the only sure way for businesses to meet the complex productivity requirements of a mobile workforce is to run a secure file sharing platform that’s specifically designed to protect against all types of threats.


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