Secure File Sharing: Three Industry Perspectives

Files and folders in the cloud

In today’s fast-paced, digital workplace, organizations must embrace cloud-based email and content collaboration platforms (CCPs)—such as Google Drive—to collaborate, innovate, and stay competitive. To achieve this, the need for file sharing permeates across departments and doesn’t stop there. Third parties—such as vendors or partners—and even customers must also be able to access files and sensitive content. The problem? How to do this in a secure manner.

Sensitive Data Must be Secured

Gartner predicts that 50% of mid to large-sized organizations will use a CCP for file-based collaboration by 2022. As growth fuels competition, CCP vendors are introducing multi-device support and advanced sharing workflows that extend files even further beyond the organization’s control.

As the use of CCPs and file sharing accelerates, organizations need more control to maintain privacy and compliance. In the past year alone, organizations saw a 53% increase in the volume of files containing sensitive data shared via the cloud.

All this to say that in today’s ever-evolving digital workplace, files are increasingly likely to contain sensitive information and be shared in unknown cloud environments, exacerbating data loss risks. Still, organizations must be able to share files across disparate environments and platforms to keep pace with their competitors and innovate, while maintaining control.

Not only is compliance with data privacy regulations—such as HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA—a concern, but so is ensuring true privacy for files containing proprietary data and intellectual property. This all comes down to one key concept: In order to collaborate with confidence, organizations must have a means of maintaining persistent control when sharing files both internally and externally. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at three industry examples.


Every organization has intellectual property (IP) that propels the business forward. For example, IP for technology businesses is likely in the form of product plans, code, specifications, and technical documentation, and other files containing IP. In order to innovate and remain competitive, these companies need to share this IP both internally with other departments and externally with technical and business partners. 

Not only does file sharing need to happen in a way that doesn’t slow down innovation, but the organization must be able to maintain control to prevent IP theft and maintain a competitive advantage. After all, if IP gets in the wrong hands, they’re vulnerable to losing market share to their competitors. 

Human Resources

HR organizations and departments correspond with recruits, contractors, labor unions, and other external parties daily. In these communications, personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) are often shared throughout contract negotiations, insurance and other benefit elections, and standard HR onboarding processes. Much like the tech company example, HR teams must be able to maintain control throughout their workflows in order to ensure this data remains private and compliant.

Securing inbound PII and PHI is especially critical because the collection of this sensitive data is likely done using multiple legacy methods—fax, FTP or email. Without persistent protection and control, these methods do not provide the data privacy, ownership, and visibility needed. Simply put, sharing PII and PHI in a non-secure way puts the organization at risk of a breach and noncompliance penalties. 


For healthcare organizations, even though HIPAA compliance is always a concern, providing the best in patient care is the top priority. In order to provide top-notch patient care, information sharing and collaboration with many different parties is non-negotiable. The challenge lies in doing so securely, so as not to put patients’ privacy and health—or your organization’s compliance—at risk.

Healthcare organizations need to share files with PHI—such as test results, medical records, prescriptions, and treatment plans—with external, third-party providers as well as with patients, all the while maintaining control throughout these communications to ensure HIPAA compliance.

Healthcare organizations also need to share medical claims, billing, and payment information with third-party insurance companies and maintain control throughout to ensure not only HIPAA but also PCI compliance.

Persistent File Protection Powers Secure File Sharing

All three of these industry examples focus on similar challenges. Fortunately, Virtru’s newest capability, Persistent File Protection, can help give organizations peace of mind knowing that their sensitive data remains truly private and secure. 

Persistent File Protection helps organizations keep files protected as they’re shared internally and externally, beyond email to desktops, network drives, cloud collaboration platforms, or anywhere else files are stored. Persistent controls ensure files stay private and compliant to accelerate collaboration cycles and power innovation.

Virtru’s Persistent File Protection addresses these three industry perspectives in the following ways:

  • In the example of the technology company, internal collaborators and external partners can download and store IP in their records, while the organization maintains control and visibility. Responses are encrypted for private collaboration workflows. Watermarking deters leaks by making it easy to trace to the source, and if the partnership dissolves, the technology company can always revoke access to prevent IP theft.
  • In the HR scenario, recruits, contractors, auditors, and other HR contacts can download and store onboarding documents, contracts/agreements, and other sensitive data in their records, while the HR department maintains control and visibility. Responses containing inbound PII and/or PHI are encrypted for private, compliant HR processes.
  • A healthcare organization’s collaborators—including patients, providers, and third parties such as insurance companies—can download and store files in their systems (e.g. EHR or billing system), while the initial provider maintains control and visibility. Responses are fully encrypted, reinforcing both HIPAA and PCI compliance. 

Regardless of industry, one thing that remains constant is that collaborators—both internal and external—get seamless access to attachments protected with Persistent File Protection via Secure Reader. Usability is key when it comes to security; more on that here

To learn more about Persistent File Protection, check out the recording of our recent educational webinar, hosted by the Virtru Product team.

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