There’s no doubt that document sharing in the cloud has been a boon to productivity, but as it turns out, there can be too much of a good thing.

A recent survey of 150 professionals working in enterprise organizations conducted by Spiceworks on behalf of FileCloud, a provider of a platform for sharing files, finds 64 percent of respondents now identify personal sharing applications used to store and share office documents as the top threat to data security within an organization.

Areas of concern

Much of that perception stems from the fact that a document sharing service makes it a little too easy for employees to make a mistake. In fact, 82 percent of survey respondents view employees and other end users as their weakest link when it comes to data security. The survey reveals 74 percent of respondents are more worried about inadvertent breaches than they are password breach stemming from a hacking attempt (68 percent). Only 8 percent are concerned about government spying or corporate espionage. 

A quarter of the respondents are certain that someone has access to documents stored in the cloud that they shouldn’t be allowed to see. A total of 12 percent of respondents even admitted they have no idea who has the right to access their organization’s cloud data.

More troubling, 58 percent of respondents said they believe employees use storage, syncing, and sharing apps beyond their sole provider. Employees will often save multiple versions of the same document across different locations. Additionally, 38 percent of IT administrators say that cloud-based file sharing applications lead to confusion over different versions of documents.

Concerns lead to MSP opportunities

Not surprisingly, providers of document sharing services now view these cybersecurity concerns as an opportunity. For example, Box just added a Box Shield service that allows end users to more easily embed security controls in documents.

While most of the focus today is on data that might be lost or compromised, it’s also worth noting that many of the documents being shared are likely infected with malware. After email, document sharing services are arguably one of the most effective mechanisms for distributed malware ever devised. 

The most widely used document sharing services are Microsoft OneDrive (54 percent), Google Drive (36 percent), Dropbox (30 percent) and Box (14 percent). Despite all these concerns, survey respondents expect to see usage of document sharing services increase. Leading the pack in terms of future adoption plans is Microsoft OneDrive (84 percent), followed by Google Drive (50 percent), and Dropbox (36 percent).

Compliance concerns fuel the need for MSPs

Theoretically, regulations such as the General Data Protection Rule (GDPR) should make organizations more concerned about who is accessing their data. In reality, the survey notes only 8 percent of respondents believe that they are currently fully GDPR compliant. More than 60 percent said they believe GDPR doesn’t affect them.

There’s clearly an opportunity for managed service providers to have a conversation with customers about document management. Many of them are already relying on MSPs to help them transition to Microsoft Office 365.

While that transition creates an opportunity to generate revenue from what amounts to a one-time event, document management represent an opportunity to build a practice that generates a lot more in the way of recurring revenue. As long as there are end users that are ‘fuzzy’ about what document got stored, in what location, and at what time, that opportunity will never go away.

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Photo:  Pressmaster / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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