3 reasons why Dropbox and similar cloud storage solutions won’t work for your business

Two of the oldest cloud storage file sharing platforms on the market nowadays are SugarSync and Box.com, both launched in 2005.  Followed by Google Docs in 2006 and OneDrive in 2007. Dropbox has reached an incredibly high number of users, 300 million since launch in 2007. Google Drive has 240 million users and according to Microsoft, OneDrive has more than 250 million users.  These applications have been highly adopted as they are very easy to use and accessible to anyone.  With most vendors leading with their ‘Freemium’ pricing strategy, by which a product or service is provided free of charge, it’s a no-brainer for anyone who is looking to implement and trial cloud storage for themselves.

However, don’t be confused by the numbers or their marketing message.  Since all of them allude to similar benefits and user scenarios when you buy into their business solutions – unlock the power of cloud storage to save space, boost collaboration and team working in the workplace.  At the core of these applications, there is one key feature – a folder that sync’s really well.  They offer a simple user interface with a familiar approach to file storage (folders) that can be ‘accessed anywhere’, a key benefit of remote cloud storage.  Additionally, they provide a more convenient way of sharing files than the archaic email attachment.  Unfortunately, these public cloud platforms have been designed and best serve the individual end user for handling and sharing personal files like photos and videos among trusted family, friends and colleagues.  Therefore, lacks all the important security and configuration features that are crucial for enterprise file management and collaboration.

Here are 3 reasons why these cloud storage and file share solutions shouldn’t be used by enterprises, especially within the engineering and manufacture sector.

Two of the oldest file share platforms on the market nowadays are SugarSynch and Box.com, both had been launched in 2005. Then it has been followed by Google Docs in 2006 and OneDrive in 2007. Dropbox was launched 10 years ago in 2007 and since then in reached an incredibly high number of users, 300 million. Google Drive is not much behind with 240 million users and according to Microsoft, OneDrive has more than 250 million users. No wonder these cloud storage and file sharing platforms are more and more popular. These are free apps that are very easy to use and accessible to anyone. However, these platforms have been designed to the private end user for handling and sharing personal files like photos and videos, therefore lacks all the important security and configuration features that are crucial for enterprises. So here are the 10 reasons why these cloud storage and file share solutions shouldn’t be used by enterprises, especially in the engineering sector. 1. The performance can’t be optimized IT has no control over the service up time of these platforms, since these are using the average broad band connection. This can be problematic when handling large engineering CAD files. The average broad band connection is usually not sufficient to handle these files and this will undoubtedly detriment productivity. 2. Risk of breach Dropbox was hacked in 2012 and after that a list of Dropbox user’s logins has been published on the internet. Probably this could have happened to other companies as well, but what was slightly concerning, is that Dropbox has only reset those user passwords that has been published, despite that all the user logins were accessed by the hackers. A possible data breach like that is not only affecting the hacked platform but possibly many others as well, because people tend to use the very same password across multiple business apps. Therefore, using such platform for enterprise purposes, simply doesn’t worth the risk because a data breach can simply put your company out of business. 3. IT has no control IT has no control at all on what is going on at Dropbox or other similar platforms. There is no audit log visible to see who deleted or modified files and when, so it would also be impossible to find the source of a data leak. One way to prevent that would be to use a remote wipe to delete Dropbox from a lost/stolen device or from dismissed employee’s devices, but this feature is only supported in the paid Dropbox Business service. 4. No granular user permissions Nor Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, nor the similar platforms allow you to set granular user permissions, which would be a critical feature in an engineering environment. You might want to provide readers right to some people without allowing them to make edits or uploads to a certain file. To reduce risks and save time, you would have to be able to link certain permissions to certain departments and/or job roles, and be able to set up unique permissions as well. 5. Data is not protected enough Clouds storage platforms typically stores all their users’ data at the same locations, with offshore data storage providers. This means that the data and the way is handled is subject to local laws and most of the time we don’t even know the physical location of the data store. But even when we do, like in the case of Dropbox that uses Amazon S3, the fact that they include a third party in the data handling, further increases the risk of losing control over data. Furthermore, if any of these companies would go bankrupt (as it happened with Nirvanix and Wuala) you would be left with very little time to save your data. 6. Can’t specify sub-folder permissions With the above-mentioned applications, it is not possible to set up specific permissions to sub-folders. Data is frequently structured by projects and assemblies/assembly parts and very often you would need to allow a supplier for example, to access a file in the main folder but not the sub folders. So, to solve this problem, many companies using cloud file sharing, will start to restructure their files according to the different permissions and accesses they want to give. No need to say that this takes up a lot of time and leads to a file structure that is led by the boundaries of the file share platform and not serving the actual needs of the company. 7. No control over who access data Since there is no password protection for files within the discussed applications, when using them, you use control over who is accessing your company files because you can’t password protect the links that you send out nor can add password to a file that has already been shared. 8. No version control The popular and well-known file sharing platforms doesn’t have any process in place to control the different versions of a file. Within a manufacturing company this should be one of the first requirement when choosing a provider. Engineering files are regularly edited by various colleagues at the same time. When using the above-mentioned solutions, they are condemned to use a tedious file naming procedure that is not just time consuming but ineffective, given that 2 new versions of the same file can be edited in the same time creating redundancy and the need for reconciling content. 9. Not compliant with data security regulations Dropbox and similar services can’t be configured very much by the users. This means that companies handling sensitive data, especially in the Finance and Healthcare industry wouldn’t be able to comply with many of the data security regulations (such as Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA or DSS) if using the discussed solutions. So, what should we do to avoid all these risks, apart from not using the above platforms? First, educating employees on the concept of data security and its practical considerations would be the most effective way to prevent risk. This should happen on a regular basis, ideally in the form of training to provide a hand on experience on the topic. Secondly, employees should be provided with an alternative solution to handle and share their files in an easy and effective, still secure way. If there is no such infrastructure in place, people will always find a way to use an easy and quick solution. Therefore, the complete ban of such applications is not a solution, it can only aggravate the situation – if you ban Dropbox for example, people typically will start to use Box.com, Google Docs, TeamDrive or some other similar platform without the knowledge and consent of IT. So after sizing up the actual needs and priorities of your company, choose a secure solution for your data handling that also fits your budget and is aimed for enterprise data management. No matter which paid solution you going to choose, it will be for sure, cheaper than the possible costs of losing productivity, data and security. Centro has been created by Actify to serve the data management needs of engineering and manufacturing companies in a cost-effective way, whilst providing scalability to fit different company sizes. Read more about how Centro provides effectiveness and security in engineering CAD data management.

1. IT has no control

I.T. has no control over the performance or service up-time of these public cloud platforms. ‘Private clouds’ or server-based solutions that are deployed within a company’s firewall provide more favorable transfer speeds than the average broadband connection.  Transfer rates can be problematic and should be a consideration when handling large files. such as a large CAD assembly file.  Sufficient transfer rates will undoubtedly determine productivity.  There are concerns regarding where your data is stored and the risk of losing control over your data. Typically cloud storage platforms store all their users’ data at the same locations, within offshore data warehouses or 3rd party storage providers. This means that your data and the way it is handled is subject to local laws and most of the time we don’t even know the physical location of the data store.  If any of these third-party data storage companies would go bankrupt (as it happened with Nirvanix and Wuala) you would be left with very little time to save your data.

2. Risk of data breach

Dropbox was hacked in 2012 and after that, a list of Dropbox user’s logins has been published on the internet.  Cyber-attacks can come from any number of directions and a comprehensive plan to ensure cyber security across the enterprise is necessary.  Cyber threats are too pervasive and public cloud platforms which hold millions of user’s files and data are an obvious target for cyber-attacks. Since consumer experience has become a dominant driving force in product development, products these days are built more for reliability than security.  A possible data breach like that can affect not only the hacked platform but many others since people tend to use the same password across multiple business apps.  A data breach can cost companies millions or even put them out of business.  Therefore, is it worth the risk to introduce public platforms into your enterprise?

3. Secure Collaboration

Syncing the latest file to everybody’s folder across many devices is a great way to distribute content and ensure people have access to the latest file.  However, challenges arise when edits are made and multiple people are collaborating and changing the same file.  Peoples hard work can be overwritten if you’re not implementing robust collaboration tools.  These popular and well-known cloud storage platforms don’t have robust features to support a secure collaboration process such as “Check-in and Check-out”. Within a manufacturing company, this should be a requirement when choosing a file management provider. CAD assembly files can have many contributors and are regularly edited by various teams.  Depending on the magnitude and complexity of your file, you may have teams working on different modules within the same assembly file performing alterations at the same time. without secure collaboration features such as the ability to check out a portion of an assembly, you are limited to locking down the whole file permitting only one person to edit.  without robust collaboration tools users resort to tedious file naming procedures that are not only time-consuming but ineffective – related errors include purchasing from the wrong bill of materials or even manufacturing from the wrong file version.

To conclude:

Users seek the easiest route to collaborate and complete their task.  Typically, within a functional department, business users are collaborating and storing or sharing information through emails, file transfer sites, Dropbox and USB drives. Much of this activity is ad hoc and done with tools that aren’t owned or managed by the enterprise. In many cases, consumer tools are used. The fact that this happens is not the problem though, at least not completely. People are essentially doing this for business purposes. Today employees are looking for easy and fast ways to share information and get the job done: USB devices, mobile devices, email, Dropbox and other online file transfer services. If you don’t provide an effective data management and collaboration environment within your organization, you’re at risk of employees connecting and sharing through unmanaged networks.  Even if you have a system in place, if it’s too cumbersome to use employees will work in parallel with the platform choosing the easiest route to collaborate.

So, what should we do to avoid all these risks?
The most effective way to prevent any issues is to educate employees about cyber security and best practices to keeping their data secure.  This should happen on a regular basis to keep employees informed, ideally in the form of training.
Secondly, employees should be provided with an effective solution to securely store, share and collaborate on files in a simple and user-friendly way. If there is no such infrastructure in place, people will always find a way to use an easy and quick solution without the knowledge and consent of IT.
So after sizing up the actual needs and priorities of your company, choose a secure solution for your data handling needs that also fits your budget and is aimed at enterprise data management and not limited to one department. The price of effective data management will be cheaper than the alternative – the cost of losing productivity, data, and security.

Centro has been created by Actify to serve the data management needs of engineering and manufacturing companies in a cost-effective way, whilst providing a scalable platform to suit the needs of companies big and small. Read more about how Centro provides effectiveness and security in engineering CAD data management.

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