But while file sync and share has never been easier to do, businesses must make sure that these tasks are being done in ways that don’t compromise security. That means having the right programs to support — and manage — these activities.

What exactly is sync and share?

File sharing is exactly what it sounds like: making files available to other people (and their devices).

In your personal life, you are probably so accustomed to sharing files that you often don’t think about it. You attach documents and pictures to texts, email messages, chats, etc. You use file sharing services like Dropbox to relay anything from one file to dozens or hundreds of files. You create documents and spreadsheets to distribute or collaborate on using Google Docs and other tools. You use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr and other social media to share images, videos and documents.

You might even use old-school methods, such as copying files to a USB flash drive or (for very large amounts of data) a portable hard drive. Or burning files to a CD or DVD disk; or using FTP (File Transfer Protocol), or putting them somewhere on your website.

“Syncing,” or synchronizing, is basically that file or data sharing, just directly among devices.

For example, you can update contact information across your phone, tablet, and computer so that contacts and addresses are available across all your devices. Syncing is also used for backing up your data, so that if, say, you lose your tablet, you still have copies of the files on it.

Sync utilities are available on most mobile devices. Your smartphone most likely syncs to a cloud account automatically, although it’s important to know what’s being done. For example, photos might not be backed up to their full size, or only up to 5 or 10 GB of photos and other data will be cloud-saved by default.

Why businesses want to sync and share

Collaboration involving data is growing. Sharing files and syncing data helps employees work together on projects and activities. It’s essential for your sales and support staffs, along with developers and designers. Central offices need to work with manufacturing and other remote locations — and these conversations require shared access to data.

Additionally, file sharing allows you to provide non-employees with files without having to give them access to your company’s network.

All of this contributes to greater flexibility and productivity. However, file and data sharing has to be done properly.

Tracking, security & compliance considerations

Like all IT activity involving data, file sharing and syncing must effectively address enterprise requirements:

Compliance

Ensuring that data is protected and in compliance with all applicable government and industry regulations. For example, not syncing medical patient data to an unsecured, unauthorized tablet, or texting a records from a financial database. Or copying an employee database to an unencrypted CD or flash drive.

Strong security

Ensuring that sensitive data isn’t made available inappropriately, even when compliance is not at issue. For example, putting company product plans in a Dropbox folder without a password.

Control

Your company needs to control file and data sharing based on department, project, type of access (read only, edit, add, delete), and even location and time.

Tracking

Sharing and syncing of company data needs to be logged, the same way that user and admin access to company applications, and even printer activity, is.

Choosing the right tool(s)

There’s no shortage of device, premise and cloud-based tools and services to share and sync files.

But not all can meet enterprise requirements.

Employees need to be educated on the compliance and security implications of sharing and syncing files, so they know what they can — and shouldn’t — do.

Look for enterprise-class tools that:

  • Manage mobile devices, including assuring authentication, encryption, and remote data wiping.
  • Let you control access to files based on authentication and group-level privilege.
  • Provide monitoring and reporting visibility into file sharing activities by employees.
  • Includes policy controls that reflect government and industry requirements and regulations.

Don’t neglect the IT admin aspects. Do you want or need the tool to be on-premise, cloud, or hybrid? Will it integrate easily into your existing management tools? Can IT delegate selective administration to product and project managers?

Remember, security like this should not be viewed as an impediment to productivity. Rather, it’s an enabler — because it lets employees do as much as possible without violating laws, regulations, or company policies. Explore your options today.