The Ins and Outs of Sending Files Securely

Files and folders network on dark background

Regardless of your industry, every organization creates, handles, stores, and shares sensitive data in order to keep the business running. Sensitive data ranges from personally identifiable information (PII)—such as social security numbers—and health records to company financials and intellectual property. Sharing this data is a major driving force for innovation and growth.

Why Does Sending Files Securely Matter?

When you need to share sensitive files with colleagues, third-party collaborators, or regulatory bodies, you have a few options. But that list quickly narrows if you need to share the files online and with minimal friction. Most organizations turn to cloud-based solutions to share files containing sensitive data…

  • 60% use online file storage systems like Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud.
  • 51% of organizations also share data via email.

Using cloud-based solutions—such as Gmail and Google Drive— provides organizations with a great way to share data, however, the security of these methods must be considered before organizations use them to store and share their sensitive files.

File Security Challenges

Keeping documents secure while supporting internal and external sharing is a balancing act and 63% of organizations indicate that existing file-sharing capabilities aren’t secure enough. One of the main challenges is that it is hard to keep track of what happens to a file after it is shared. For example, Google Drive uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect data in motion and prevent eavesdropping and tampering. TLS secures the communication pathway that allows you to create, edit, and share documents in Drive. 

While helpful as a baseline security measure, TLS doesn’t protect the data itself, only the communication channel, so you don’t get persistent protection and control over a Drive document throughout its full lifecycle. Files may become vulnerable once they are shared externally, and with each additional share, risks multiply.

Plus, without data-centric encryption, the cloud vendor can access to your sensitive files. For many organizations, this presents a compliance concern and additional layers of security are necessary.

Key Features for Ultimate Security

If you’re looking for a solution to enable secure—beyond the native security features of your email or file storage system of choice—file sharing, the following features will help improve your organization’s security posture:

  • End-to-end protection encrypts files before they ever reach Google’s servers to prevent access by Google and unauthorized third parties.
  • Enhanced access controls strengthen Google’s native information rights management features, with the ability to watermark documents to prevent data exfiltration.
  • Granular audit gives your organization visibility over who has accessed and reshared documents, wherever they travel, with the ability to integrate with any SIEM.
  • Secure external sharing allows you to keep control over Drive documents—whether they’re shared with Microsoft users or anyone else—without forcing collaborators to create new Google accounts or creating open share links that increase data leak risks.
  • Customer-hosted encryption keys give customers direct control of the keys protecting their Drive files, preventing government surveillance and shielding your most sensitive information from Google.
  • Seamless user experience ensures adoption with security embedded directly in the native Drive interface, and without requiring local client software, separate applications and passwords, or new workflows.

Virtru provides these capabilities with our Google Drive and Gmail encryption solutions, providing organizations with the enhanced protection and control necessary to keep files private and secure. 

How to Send Files Securely

As Google’s only recommended encryption partner, Virtru provides a critical layer of protection on top of G Suite’s native sharing features and security capabilities to help organizations realize the potential for private, compliant, and controlled file sharing workflows. 

Virtru for Google Drive

Virtru for Google Drive allows organizations that store and share common file types in Google Drive—including PDFs; Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents; .png and .jpeg image files; and .txt files—to encrypt them upon upload. Controls, like watermarking and disable resharing, can be applied to prevent unauthorized access as they’re shared internally between departments and externally with customers, partners, patients, and other collaborators. Users can also convert native Google files (Sheets, Docs, and Slides) to their respective Office counterparts (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint) to support secure sharing beyond the G Suite ecosystem. 

Critically, organizations can automatically enforce file protection to ensure their files stay private and compliant with regulations like HIPAA, CCPA, CJIS, ITAR CCPA, and more.

Virtru for Gmail

Virtru provides end-to-end encryption for your emails and all the data they contain. Virtru’s encryption services are built directly into Gmail for ease of use: send and receive emails as you normally would, but with robust data-centric protection included. Your end-users won’t be impacted—there are no extra steps or clunky manual processes. 

You can also rest easy knowing that unwelcome eyes will not be able to view your data: Virtru’s encryption key management enables you to host your encryption keys separate from Virtru’s platform. No one, from Virtru to Gmail to outside threats, will access your data without permission.

To learn more about sending files securely using Virtru, please get in touch with us.

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