Security of Large File Transfers
Just how often each day do you say, “I’ll send you that file,” or something very similar? If you are anything like me, many more times than you would want to admit to. Both at work and at home we all share data daily and very frequently. The amount of this data sharing shows no sign of diminishing, in fact it is growing exponentially year on year and file sizes, if anything, are getting bigger and bigger. This often leads to the necessity of using a file-sharing portal because the usual route of email attachment can’t cope with the size.
As we move all of this data about, do we ever stop to consider just what it is that we are sending across the ether, and can it be compromised by anyone on route? How much of this shared data contains sensitive information? You really don’t have to be working for the security services to have sensitive information. We all have sensitive data on our PCs, laptops, iPads etc. Personal information such as bank account details, contracts, tax returns, even very simple stuff like friends addresses, and telephone numbers are all examples of sensitive information. In a world where identity theft is common-place, and is becoming a bigger risk to our financial wellbeing than almost any previous scam, we really should be more alert to the threat. We should take care of the data we currently sling about with such abandon. Failure to do so will almost certainly end in tears.
Assessing the Risk and Identifying the Threat
One could argue that it is better to be paranoid when considering cyber security. When it comes to our information, we should not just go with the flow and assume this kind of thing always happens to someone else. However, assessing the risk is not always as simple and easy as you would think. For instance, what are the risks of sending a clear text email with a clear text attached file?
The first consideration is that your email will travel across the internet via any number of servers before it reaches your intended recipient. Each of these servers represents a risk for compromise. The data maybe innocently copied and stored by the server before it is transmitted further along it’s journey to the intended recipient. This action exposes the possibility for the data to be corrupted, amended, diverted or just scanned so that the content can be read by others. Now this is generally not the case, however conceptually it is very possible. Big brother reads all our communications these days, justified as part of the fight against terrorism. Concerns about interception are just one part of the story, copies of your emails are automatically stored as sent items. Often these copies are stored on your internet provider’s server. What level of security exists there to prevent them being hacked? Finally, on receipt of the email, how certain can we be that it is intact exactly as the sender sent it or indeed that the sender is who you think it is?
So you see, just from looking at one possible way we share data, we can conclude that it isn’t easy or even feasible for us to truly evaluate the risk. What we tend to do is just click send and pray.
The Responsible Adult
Does it make sense to carry on like this? I don’t think so, as responsible adults we should be doing more to protect ourselves, our friends and our business partners from becoming the target of some faceless cyber-criminal.
Secure Email and File Transfer
Encryption is the obvious answer to all of these concerns. We should routinely encrypt our emails, as well as any attached files. Where any form of file sharing is concerned, we should also encrypt the data. That way when it is at rest, stored on some server or on the move, it will be protected against hackers.
This doesn’t have to be complicated, costly or impossible to understand. The latest generation of email encryption products offer real ease of use. Some of these products additionally allow the handling of very large files, all in just a couple of clicks.
I hope this has provided you with food for thought. Please don’t wait until you become the target of an attack. Take responsibility for securing your electronic communications today. No one will thank you for allowing their personal data to be left at risk.
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