How to Maximize Security When Sharing Files Online

You’ll likely need to share files in a number of careers and hobbies. You might need to share a copy of your latest whitepaper with a client, or share a collection of retouched photos and videos with your social media audience. In a more mundane setting, you might want to share photos, videos, and documents with your friends and family members for collaborative projects or just as a way to stay in touch.

Unfortunately, sharing files online can be unsafe if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you aren’t careful, a cybercriminal could get ahold of your valuable personal information – or intercept proprietary secrets from your business.

Choose the Right File Sharing Software

One of your biggest priorities should be choosing the right file sharing software. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of options available to you – and not all of them offer the same protections.

A solid file sharing software app will be simple, straightforward, and easy to use while giving you all the functionality you need to share files conveniently. But it also needs built-in security tools like multiple backups, encryption, and options to share files in more secure ways. The more secure and the more flexible the system is, the better – and make sure you check out user reviews to see what they have to say about the system as well.

Choose a Strong Password (and Enable Two-Factor Authentication)

Most file sharing apps are based in the cloud these days, meaning you’ll need to create an account and log in every time you want to use it. No matter how secure the app is, if someone gets their hands on your login credentials, they’ll have access to all your information. That’s why it’s in your best interest to choose a strong password.

Strong passwords have a mix of different types of characters, including upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special symbols; they also have many characters in sequence and don’t have common words or easily guessable patterns. Just as importantly, your password should be unique; don’t use it for any other apps or purposes.

While you’re at it, consider enabling two-factor authentication, so a password alone isn’t enough to gain access to your account. It’s a simple step that can help keep your file sharing system secure.

Be Careful What You Share

Think carefully about what you share and how you share it. If you’re dealing with especially sensitive information, like your social security number or credit card number, consider not sharing it at all unless absolutely necessary. If you’re sharing documents or PDFs, give them a review to ensure they don’t include any information you don’t want to be shared.

Encrypt or Password Protect Your Files

For sensitive files, consider adding a layer of encryption and/or password-protecting your files. That way, only a person with the correct password can open and view the file. This is a good way to ensure that only the intended recipient is able to view and enjoy the file.

Establish Multiple User Roles

If your file sharing system allows, consider establishing multiple user roles for each member of your team. Different user roles can be given different levels of access; certain members may be restricted to read-only mode, preventing them from making changes to the files you’re storing. Others may be restricted in terms of which files they can access, specifically. It’s a great way to segment your organization and minimize vulnerabilities.

Time Restrict Access

Certain file sharing systems will allow you to set a time limit for when your shared files can be accessed. For example, you might allow the file to be downloaded only for 24 hours. This way, if the share link is leaked, or if the recipient is in some way compromised, they still won’t have further access to the file after 24 hours.

Limit Copying and Downloading

Consider limiting the potential for downloading and copying the files you’re sharing as well. Depending on the system you’re using, you may be able to completely prevent downloads, screenshots, copying, and other forms of reproduction.

Invest in Additional Security Tools

It’s also a good idea to follow other best practices for general cybersecurity. That means keeping all your devices and systems upgraded and investing in tools like VPNs and firewalls to protect your network. Any vulnerability could hypothetically be exploited in a way that allows a person to access your stored files – so your entire system needs to be on point.

Sharing files is, in some ways, a practical necessity of the modern world. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave yourself vulnerable online. With the right file sharing software, and a better, more secure approach to sharing files, you’ll be in a much less vulnerable position.