Over 50% use unauthorized file sharing apps at work

While BYOD and free, cloud-based file-sharing is on the rise, IT administrators are largely unable to police the use of these tools within their organizations, according to SkyDox.

The study surveyed more than 4,000 employees who handle or distribute information in the United States and the United Kingdom, in a wide array of work environments, vertical sectors and job functions.

The survey revealed that while employees have embraced free file-sharing platforms to store or share documents, IT administrators overwhelmingly haven’t been able to provide viable alternatives to free, unauthorized applications and prevent the adoption of unsecure applications.

Sixty-six percent of those polled use free file-sharing platforms and, among these, 55 percent do so without alerting their IT departments. Without knowing which tools are being deployed within their organizations, IT administrators risk corporate assets, sensitive information and intellectual property being distributed, modified and stored without authorization. In some cases, this can result in violations of national and international laws regarding data security, transparency and privacy.

A positive correlation exists between how transparent employees are with IT administrators regarding their use of file-sharing tools and their job function. Only 29 percent of those working in sales functions reported their use of free file-sharing platforms to IT, whereas 95 percent of those working in financial positions; 53 percent working in marketing functions; and 62 percent who work in administrative functions, report this information to IT.

BYOD has solidified its standing as workplace protocol. The survey finds that 77 percent of information workers use their personal mobile devices or tablets for work. Those working in professional services (92 percent), financial services (86 percent) and healthcare (84 percent) sectors report the highest BYOD use, while those in government (38 percent) report the lowest. All companies, ranging from 200 to 2,000+ employees, report BYOD use at over 50 percent.

Mobility is a reality of today’s workforce. Eighty-percent of employees report needing access to work documents from outside the office. Among those who work in legal job functions, 100 percent report requiring access to documents outside of the office, followed by 97 percent in marketing; 92 percent in finance; and 80 percent in sales job functions. Only 35 percent of those working in administrative job functions report needing remote access.

Sixty-six percent use free file-sharing platforms to share corporate documents. Those working in professional services (87 percent) and financial services (84 percent) report the highest usage of free file-sharing platforms, followed by healthcare (57 percent), creative sectors (55 percent) and government (54 percent).

Yet, among those working specifically in a financial job function only 39 percent use file-sharing platforms, with those whose function falls in sales (81 percent), legal (77 percent) or marketing (70 percent) most frequently using free file-sharing.

The survey reveals that mobile working has become an inevitable reality, further reinforced by industry indications that, to varying degrees, more than 60 percent of employees work from locations other than the office.

By enabling BYOD, companies are taking advantage of the productivity boons that comes from mobile working, yet there are other considerations to take into account. As the survey shows, cloud-enabled file-sharing platforms are now widely used within the workplace to, not only foster mobile working, but also improve collaboration beyond the walls of the corporate office.

Amid the promise of this technology, however, lies the real risk of IT administrations losing oversight of their corporate assets and data, unless they find a way to provide more controlled and secure platforms to foster efficient and effective file-sharing and collaboration.

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