File sharing platforms, such and Dropbox and Google Docs, are a fantastic medium for quick and easy sharing of information and data and provides accessibility when and wherever you can connect to the internet. I've used them extensively in my working life. Many of the companies I've worked for, even big international companies have utilised file sharing sites but may not have understood the risk to their Corporate Data. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the issues and describe how P-IMS combats them;
1. Data Theft
Data sharing is the key use for these platforms – that’s why we all use it. However due to the open nature of the application business owners are not privy to when an instance of the application is installed, are unable to control which employee devices can or cannot sync with a corporate PC. The use of sharing sites can mean that confidential and business sensitive information can be synced (without approval) across personal devices.
How P-IMS is different – Users gain access to only one document at a time. It is not possible to sync large data files or file folder structures. Besides the audit log tracks who has accessed which files and when they were downloaded. You can see if someone it slowly downloading all the content.
2. Data Loss
Since sharing sites do not control the movement of files or control the over writing of files the integrity of files and data cannot be maintained. Sharing sites can also improperly back up (or not backup at all) files that were modified on an employee device. How many times have you accessed say Dropbox only to find that file folders are missing or have been moved? The result in all of this is an inability to restore data to the most current version.
How P-IMS is different – P-IMS controls who can and cannot upload and change data on the site. An Admin account privilege ensures that this is the only account that can change files that are presented on the site. The system also keeps a copy of all previous versions of the file so that it is easy to see when they were changed, by whom and you can access them to restore old versions if necessary.
3. Corrupted Data
In a study by CERN, the European Organisation of Nuclear Research, silent data corruption was observed in 1 out of every 1500 files. While many businesses trust their cloud solution providers to make sure that stored data maintains its integrity year after year, most consumer file sync services, including Dropbox, do not implement data integrity assurance systems to ensure that any bit-rot or corrupted data is replaced with a redundant copy or the original.
How P-IMS is different – Since the is no syncing of data the potential for data corruption is minimised. The raw data is maintained by the Client Company and therefore the integrity of the source document is maintained by the Client Customer.
4. Privacy of Data
Since many sharing sites give the ability to employees to permanently delete or share files this can result in the permanent loss of business-critical data, the sharing of confidential information that can break privacy agreement in place with clients or third-parties. The legal implications of this is not always clearly understood.
How P-IMS is different – Since you control who has access to the site the ability to share information to other people is limited. You can control, at a file level, whether the source document is downloadable or not. This means that you can share information on the screen, but individuals cannot download it.
5. Compliance violations
Many compliance policies require that files are held for only a specific duration and can only be accessed by authorised people, in these cases, it is imperative to employ strict control over how long files are kept and who can access them. Most companies hold sensitive information, whether that be HR records or financial accounts. Generally, access to this information needs to be strictly controlled. The open nature of file sharing sties cannot guarantee that this information is not accessed by the wrong individual.
How P-IMS is different – P-IMS allows you to create individual sites which are only visible and accessible to restricted users. User accounts are generated by the site admin and have the ability to provide restrictions as to which individual sites are visible to the user and to which files are accessible as read only or downloadable.
6. Sharing of Viruses or Malicious software
Many file sharing sites will allow the sharing of files containing viruses or malicious software without any control. Due to the open nature of the access to these sites it is possible for an uploaded file, from someone who you have not given permission to, and spread a virus across your network.
How P-IMS is different – Only administrators have the ability to upload files. You control the content and you can ensure that the files are legitimate and comply with antivirus policies.
7. Searching stored information or data
Most file sharing platforms allow the searching of information based on the document title, similar to Windows Explorer. Further searching of information is reliant on opening the file folder and accessing the document.
How P-IMS is different – P-IMS allows key words to be associated with each document. Therefore, search criteria can be different to the document name. The system allows you to also search all data held on the site in real time. As you start typing the search words the results list is continually updated.
8. Out of date information
One thing that nearly all files sharing platforms are unable to do is alert you when a file or a document is out of date. Many documents shared via an online platform have a life expectancy, whether they be training certificates, calibration certs or Risk Assessments. Working with out of date information can have a considerable impact to a business’s operation, leading to delays, cost overruns, etc.
How P-IMS is different – P-IMS allows you to attach an expiration date to any document held on the system. You can also state a notice period required, prior to expiration date, so that the system can alert you. When a document reached the notice period date P-IMS will automatically email a select number of users that documents are expiring so that you have time to book training courses, recalibrate equipment of review current documentation.