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Google Drive

Team Drives Launches for G Suite Business, Enterprise, & Education

Google DriveMost file storage solutions weren’t built to handle the explosion of files that are now created and shared in the cloud — because they were initially designed for individuals, not teams. With this amount of shared data, admins need more controls to keep their data safe and teams need to feel confident working together. Team Drives deliver the security, structure and ease-of-use enterprises need by making it easy to:

  • Add new team members. You can manage team members individually or with Google Groups and give them instant access to relevant Team Drives.
  • Keep track of your files if a team member leaves. Team Drives are jointly owned by the team, which means that anything added to Team Drives stays there no matter who comes or goes. Whirlpool Corporation, for example, uses Team Drives to manage file access. Says Troy McKim, Collaboration Principle at Whirlpool Corporation, “If you place files for a project in Team Drives, you don’t have to worry about losing them or moving them when files are re-owned.”
  • Understand and manage sharing permissions. Team members automatically see the same files regardless of who adds or reorganizes them. You can also manage share permissions by defining the restrictions for editing, commenting, reorganizing or deleting files.
  • Manage and view Team Drives as an admin. Admins can see Team Drives for a user and add new members if necessary: “Team Drives also ease the speed at which a team member can onboard and become effective in their new role,” says McKim.

Team Drives are now generally available to all of our G Suite Business, Education, and Enterprise customers.

Do Your Cloud Apps Punish Your Customers?

Cloud Sharing
Using the cloud is a great way to share information, securely, with customers, vendors, and business partners. Most tools are relatively inexpensive, easy to setup, seem easy for your customers to use, and adequately secure. For many of these services, your customers access the data you are sharing by creating a free account on that service. This seemingly harmless step, however, can be the source of problems.

You cloud sharing solution may be punishing your customers.

Using a cloud solution that requires customers (or others) to create a free account will, in many instances, cause problems for your customers.

  • Free Accounts are Never Really Free. When your customer sets up their free accounts, your vendor has gained a new “customer”.  Expect the vendor to start marketing to your customers in order to sell them upgrades to paid versions.  Your vendor will likely to add your customers to their newsletter and update notice lists.

Sharing a file should not create an email headache for your customers.

  • Your Customer May Need to Help.  Many cloud sharing services require, or encourage via default prompts, the installation of browser and desktop extensions, applications, or services. If your customer uses a managed computer, she may not have rights to install the necessary widget to access the shared data.

Your customer should not need to help from
IT to open a shared file or a secure email from you.

  • You Can Break Your Customers’ Computers. Even if the necessary extension, application, or service can be installed, your cloud app may break their computers. If the extension, application, or service, conflicts with other software or services on your customer’s computer, you have created a problem that can be time-consuming to figure out and resolve.

Reading a shared files and secure email should not cause system problems.

  • Not Everybody Wants More Software.  A customer of ours once asked if he would need to install anything to view a file we were about to share. He pointed out that he currently had 4 apps for accessing shared file services, 1 app and 2 browser extensions for reading secure emails, and 3 web meeting clients installed on his system — non of which his company uses. Once every few weeks, he spends time uninstalling these “helpful tools” to keep his system free of clutter.

A shared file or secure email should not require a system cleanup.

The biggest issue with all of the above scenarios is that they disrespect your customers’ time by creating inconveniences or problems. Doing business with you should be easy.

When picking cloud solutions, such as file sharing and secure email services, look for systems that do not require (or prefer by default) your customers to setup accounts or install software of any type. Unless your customer agrees to that type of solution (such as accessing a project management system), you are potentially creating problems and annoyances that can change your customer’s perception of you and your business.


Feel free to contact us if we can help you evaluate your options and solutions.


 

Cloud File Sync & Sharing: Risks and Solutions (Part 3)

Secure Cloud
This blog post is the third in a series on the data risks and solutions available for file sync and sharing services.

In the first two posts in this series, we focused on some of the risks and basic concepts for file sync and sharing services.  In this post, we focus on ways to mitigate risks.

Provide Employees with an Approved File Sharing Service. As we have noted in our prior posts, if you do not provide an approved service, employees will sign up for and use one of their own.  The difference?  With an approved services, you have access to your employees’ data and clear ownership of the information.  You can also monitor and manage for adoption, usage, and (if desired) adherence to policies.

Have a Clear Policy. Let employees know that personal and company data and systems are to remain separate, and why.  Provide a list of approved file sharing and sync services, as well as a clear an concise statement which other services may not be used (i.e., all others) and why.  The policy should include consequences for violations, along with a means for approved exceptions.

Block or Blacklist Unauthorized Tools. For many organizations without decent web filtering services in place, this recommendation will be difficult to implement.

Audit Workstations for Unauthorized Use.  Beyond application monitoring, when you scan workstations for application inventories, look to see if sync service agents have been installed.

With a moderate planning effort and reasonable monitoring and enforcement efforts, businesses can take advantage of the conveniences that file sharing and sync services offer, without exposing data to unnecessary risk and loss.

 

Cloud File Sync & Sharing: Risks and Solutions (Part 2)

Secure Cloud This blog post is the second in a series on the data risks and solutions available for file sync and sharing services.

Your employees are using file sharing services. Ignoring reality or denying its existence will not change the fact that today’s tech users want to easily share files, and that they will circumvent IT if needed.

Understand the Technology.  Many organizations are using file sync services to share and backup files.  A poor understanding of how file sync services, however, can result in data corruption and loss.

Sync Basics. Most sync services keep a copy of your files on your local machine and in cloud storage, with synchronization happening for files saved in specific directories on your local machine.  In other words, you open and work on files locally.  When you save them in a sync folder (or folder tree), the file will be synchronized with the version in the cloud.  Files may also be used and saved using more traditional upload and download techniques. If you share a file with another person, they will download, or sync, a copy of the file to their local desktop.  This means that if you both are editing a document at the same time, you are both working locally on different copies of the file.  While some sync services offer basic file locking, most will allow the conflict to occur.  Data may be easily lost as each person syncs and overwrites the changes of the other. Better sync services offer multiple level or permissions, allowing you to restrict access to view versus edit.  Some services will also prevent downloading and printing.

Sync versus Backup. File sync is NOT backup.  If you overwrite or delete a file, those changes are synced to the server and to other users.  While some sync services offer version control with a limited ability to retrieve prior versions, most sync services quickly propagate errors and deletions. As such, sync is not a reliable technology for data restores.

When to Sync? Sync and sharing services can be part of a robust business continuity strategy. With near-real time updates, a local or remote service outage does not mean loss of access to files, or loss of operating data. Sync and sharing services are also useful for sharing files with outside parties, provided your users understand the limitations of the service. If you allow the use of sync and share services, however, make sure your team is using a company-owned and managed account and a business grade service.  We will discuss why this is so critical in our next installment.

Previous Post in the Series

Cloud File Sync & Sharing: Risks and Solutions (Part 1)

Secure Cloud
This blog post is the first in a series on the data risks and solutions available for file sync and sharing services.

Your employees are using file sharing services. Ignoring reality or denying its existence will not change the fact that today’s tech users want to easily share files, and that they will circumvent IT if needed.

Failing to provide a secure, reliable service, puts your data — and your business — at risk.

Case Study 1: Inside Sales Disappear

An inside sales representative at a B2B industrial supply company was signing on new customers.  While the contract were all boilerplate, the rep use a personal Dropbox account to share them with customers for signature and to store them once signed.  After failing to be promoted, the rep quit the firm.  The company had no copies and no access to dozens of customer agreements.

Case Study 2: Order Management Gone Wrong

A customer service rep was using a personal file sharing service to send/receive credit card authorization forms with customers and, unintentionally, his family.  The company became aware of the problem (and PCI violation) when a customer called to inquire about an attempted electronics purchase the day after they had provided the form.  The rep’s teenage son had attempted to make an online purchase with “credit card number in Dad’s account.”

Case Study 3: No Backup = No Restore

A CEO recently contacted his IT department, asking that  they restore several critical files needed for a business meeting the next day, as he could no longer find them.  After searching several iterations of backups and audit logs, they informed the CEO that the IT team could not find any indication that the files had ever existed. The CEO had created the documents locally on his PC, then placed them in a personal file sharing service so that he could access them while traveling.  Without any protection, restoring the deleted files was impossible.

While these examples may seem extreme, if your employees are using personal, unsecured file sharing services, they may already be happening to you.

Back in September, we posted about the increasing problem of rogue cloud services.  Over the course of this series, we will look specifically at cloud-based file sharing services, their risks, and solutions that protect your data, your reputation, and your business.

File Sharing vs File Service: The Difference Matters

 

It is time to set the record straight — File Sharing and File Services are NOT the same thing.

  • File Sharing is the ability to share a file with somebody else.
  • A File Service is a structured service to secure, organize, and manage access to files.

File Sharing is a subset of File Services, if not a separate offering.  File Sharing is a feature, while a File Service should provide an integrated means of storing, security, sharing, and managing information.

In Google Apps, both Sites, Drive, Video can be used for File Sharing.  In both services, you can create and/or upload files in all three services and manage permissions that allow others to view and/or edit the files. Google Drive, however, can also be configured to provide a File Service.  With desktop and device agents, you can use the folder and permissions structure in Google Drive to provide users direct, integrated access to files and the access will appear ‘native’ to their computer or mobile device.

In other words, Google Drive can look and feel like a file server, even though it runs as a cloud-base service and offers additional capabilities.

DropBox, Box, and Egnyte are cloud services that can also be configured as File Services.  They run separately, however, so if you want these file services to integrate with other cloud applications, you will be investing in Single Sign On and, possibly, integration services.

With Sharepoint as a major component, Office 365 offers File Sharing along the lines of Google Sites.  SkyDrive, Microsoft’s File Service, is not an integrated part of the Office 365 suite.  Users must run SkyDrive in personal Windows Live accounts.  In effect, this creates a collection of personal file services, not part of the managed domain environment, through which uses may share files.  This is a very different service than an integrated, domain managed file service.

Conclusion

By understanding the differences between File Sharing and File Services, you can better assess the user experience of each service and best match the service to the needs of your business and your end users.