The risks of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing
Sharing files is a given in any business environment. Whether it is between co-workers or clients, file sharing is a given in any business environment. Likewise, information hacks and security breaches have become commonplace. However, a lot of companies still choose to sacrifice safety and security for affordability and sometimes unnecessary added features.
Often, companies do this in the form of free peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing via free Internet downloads. When it comes to business file-sharing services, the difference between a free and paid service is vast, especially if you’re looking to use the service in a business setting. From lax security measures to low limits on cloud storage and file upload capability, a "free" service can end up costing you.
What is P2P file sharing?
According to HowStuffWorks Tech, peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is a form of file sharing where you use a software program instead of a Web browser to locate computers that have a file you want. Since these computers are not servers, they are called "peers." In order to use P2P file sharing, you have to download a P2P program. The P2P program then finds a computer with the file you want and downloads it, and other program users can get files from your computer's hard drive as well.
P2P file sharing is risky
ComputerWeekly classifies P2P systems into three main types—file sharing, processor sharing and instant messaging. Each type presents unique security risks that traditional anti-virus software and virus detection systems are not designed to combat.
"As with unencrypted e-mail, the majority of end-users are unaware their communications can be viewed by people with whom they have not explicitly initiated a conversation. Due to the ease of use, it is possible that proprietary or confidential information could leak from an organization in exactly the same way as occurs with file-sharing systems."
For business owners, file sharing security is the main area of concern. If you have to share a file among your colleagues or clients, using a P2P program that doesn't offer security can be harmful. Imagine you work at an accounting firm sending sensitive tax information to a client and someone is able to locate that information on your hard drive. The damage to your business and your client's business would be detrimental.
P2P file sharing may sound good in theory, but it doesn't come without risks.
According to the United States Federal Trade Commission, people who use P2P file-sharing software can share files inadvertently, by either choosing to share files or folders that contain sensitive information, or by saving a private file to a shared drive or folder accidentally.
P2P file sharing also puts you at greater risk for downloading viruses and malware, which can change drives or folders designated for sharing. For example, "instead of just sharing music, a user’s personal tax returns, private medical records or work documents could end up in general circulation on P2P networks." And once a user on a P2P network downloads your private files, there is now way to get them back.
The United States Federal Trade Commission warns:
"Most businesses collect and store sensitive information about their employees and customers, like Social Security numbers, credit card and account information, and medical and other personal data. Many of them have a legal obligation to protect this information. If it gets into the wrong hands, it could lead to fraud and identity theft. That’s why any company that collects and stores sensitive information must consider the security implications of using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing software and minimize the risks associated with it.
Other potential problems
Although you may be inclined to use a free service even if it means sacrificing some features and security, at the end of the day, you are putting your business at risk. There are a number of internal and external security threats that can been prevented with encryption, firewalls, virus scanners and software that provides other necessary security features.
Aside from security problems, you can also run into other issues, such as:
● Having to break up large files due to size limitations.
● A slow upload process that results in a “failed to complete” error message.
And if you are looking to transfer large files online you probably also want to store those files somewhere that both you and your recipients can access them. You could always sign up for multiple free-sharing and storage sites to gain enough storage space, but that only creates confusion and puts your files at a greater security risk.
So, how do businesses avoid security issues that go along with P2P file-sharing programs and still get a file-transferring and storage service that is secure and affordable?
By installing a reputable security software, such as Citrix ShareFile.
Enjoy safety and security with ShareFile
With ShareFile, your business won't have to sacrifice of affordability, performance or file share security. Our security measures support the efforts of HIPAA, FINRA and other industry regulations. We keep your information safe with:
- High-level data encryption — ShareFile uses only AES 256-bit encryption — the same standard used by the U.S. government for files of top secret classification. And we maintain file encryption whether your data is in transfer or at rest in our servers.
- Data center protection — Did you know that data stored in the cloud is actually stored in servers located in datacenters? If those servers are damaged, your stored information could be lost. The servers utilized by ShareFile are SSAE 16 audited, back up to multiple other datacenters around the globe and feature disaster recovery centers.
- Custom security settings — With ShareFile you can set up download alerts and file activity reports to keep track of your documents, as well as use remote wipe in the event a device is lost or stolen.
Security and much, much more
Not only does ShareFile offer top-level cloud file-sharing security features and benefits, we provide our customers with much, much more.
Affordability — We offer several plans, ranging from $16 per month to $295 per month. Our plans are separated into four categories to suit the needs of any business across multiple verticals:
- Virtual Data Room
For more information about specific plans, please refer to our plans and pricing page.
Features — Some features that have helped shape our clients' businesses include:
Customer support — Our team of customer care representatives are available 24/7 to assist you by phone. They will answer questions submitted online within 24 hours. For added support, we also provide:
- An online support forum
- Live training sessions
- Real-time incident and status reports
Ease of use — With ShareFile, it only takes a few clicks to send and store files. There is nothing do download and you won't have to worry about internal IT upkeep.
Here is a complete list of ShareFile features your business will enjoy.
Industry-specific file-sharing solutions
"What’s the built-for-business difference? Our customized solutions support your unique workflows and security concerns. So, whether you need to send out thousands of confidential forms for signature or share massive design files with vendors, ShareFile makes it easier for you to get it done — quickly and securely."
The features that ShareFile provides are designed to work for these industries:
- Real Estate
And if your industry isn't listed above, ShareFile also provides customized solutions for the specific needs of any company.
How to transfer files with ShareFile
1. Activate your account and upload files.
2. Find the file in your account and right-click. Or you can select the checkbox next to multiple files to share them all at once.
Stop and ask yourself an important question — Do you want to share the file with the secure and convenient ShareFile email system or would you rather generate a secure link that you can copy and paste into an email, chat app or document? Choose what's best for you.
Let's say you went with email with ShareFile.
- You can enter your recipients manually or you can use the address books. And your recipient doesn't even have to be a ShareFile user. You can simply enter their email address into the address box. You can also include a subject and message for your recipient.
- Use "Edit Message Options" to customize some important details. Choose to receive a copy of the message or be notified when the file is downloaded. Security settings let you control who can access your file and how.
- If you have the Encrypted Email feature, you can encrypt the message the same way you would an email from the ShareFile plug-in for Microsoft Outlook.
- If your account has File Versioning enabled, you can choose to always link to the most recent version of a file.
- If you forgot to attach an extra file to the message, you can use the "Add More" button to add files stored on your account or computer.
- When you're all done, click send! If you added a file stored on your computer, you may need to wait while it is uploaded to your file box.
Now, let's say you went with the "Get a Link" option instead.
- Here, you can add more files if necessary and edit the link options. It is always a good idea to check when the link is set to expire.
- When you're ready, click "Get a Link." You will receive a secure link you can copy and paste anywhere you need.
Enjoy secure file sharing for free for thirty days
With a free thirty-day trial from ShareFile, you can:
● Send large files, like high-definition art, media files and other large documents of up to 100 GB in size
● Store an unlimited amount of files, so you'll never to delete files to free up space
● Create accounts for up to five employees
● Customize your portal with help from our team of graphic artists
● Enjoy file security with password protection, remote wipe, state-of-the-art encryption and more
● Contact us 24/7 for support by phone and email
● Integrate with Microsoft Outlook for a seamless workflow
● Sync to folders on your desktop and streamline data across all channels
● Enjoy a user management tool that keeps your accounts synced up with your Active Directory
● Share files from anywhere with remote file-sharing capabilities with mobile security
With ShareFile, you’ll be sending large files in no time. All you need to sign up for your free 30-day trial is your name, email address and a ShareFile password. There’s no software to download or install and no special training required.