Top 5 Reasons to Replace All Email Attachments with Links

Email is the collaboration and file sharing tool of choice for most of us for many reasons. For some it is a muscle-memory thing. It is how we collaborated before Skype, Yammer and Teams emerged. Email has the advantage of ubiquity and virtually always working. When you hit Send you have great confidence that the recipient will quickly receive your message with zero friction.

All of this came to mind upon reading a Linkedin post from an astute industry colleague, which stated that: 

“Behind every problem at this company is a spreadsheet. In an email.”

I suspect this problem resonates with most of us, but our attention may mistakenly (IMHO) focus on email being an inadequate method to share a sensitive file. But the underlying issue is that in almost all cases, attachments result in data being given away forever. But this does not have to be the case as the attachment can be replaced with a link to the file. Here are the Top 5 reasons to do so.

  1. Links can be expired

    An emerging best practice is to have a default link expiration duration, for example 60 days. Long enough to meet the business need in sharing the file in the first place. And if requesting and approving an extension is easy (as it is with e-Share), there is virtually no impact on the sender or the recipient.

    And if you have sent an email in error (have you ever succeeded in recalling an email?), or you have terminated a business relationship, or have reason to believe a recipient’s mail server has been compromised, you can immediately expire any/all attachment links.

  2. Links allow rights management

    Perhaps attachments should be available for viewing only, with no download. Perhaps downloaded attachments should be dynamically watermarked. And perhaps the sharing of an attachment with a co-worker is okay, but sharing outside of the recipient’s organization requires the sender’s approval.

  3. Attachments are not sitting in the recipients email system

    Attachment links allow you to keep your shared files safely tucked away in your cloud file storage (e.g., the sender’s OneDrive). The recipient can view an attachment at any time, without having the file in their mail system, accruing risk by the day, long after the business need in sharing the file has been met.

  4. 80% of recipients do not need a local copy of the file

    Even when the recipient has the right to download an attachment, 80% of recipients will not. They prefer to preview the file, perhaps to approve it or to determine what action is needed. Knowing they have access to the file at some later point is good enough for 80% of recipients. Attaching a file in the absence of a link is grossly oversharing, adding no business value and accumulating risk.

  5. Links enable modern collaboration

    Platforms like Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) allow for online editing, co-authoring and redlining of shared content, but not if that content is shared as an attachment. Links make modern collaboration possible, as does e-Share’s native integration with Microsoft Office Online.

  6. Bonus Reason: Links eliminate version confusion

    Links ensure all parties are working from the same version of a shared file. No longer are drafts of contracts being merged and compared. And you can update an attachment link even after you hit the send button.

With attachments links, email can remain your user’s preferred method for for initiating their collaboration and file sharing while providing the organization the control it needs over shared files.

You can read here how a leading Health Insurer has implemented attachment links to protect PHI and improve the customer experience. And you can see the sender and recipient experience, including modern collaboration around attachments, in our virtual demo.

Better yet, schedule a demo with us to learn more and discuss use cases of specific interest to your organization.

Initiating Your External File Sharing & Content Collaboration from Within Microsoft Office Apps

e-Share Blog

e-Share’s Add-in for Microsoft Office allows users to initiate their external file sharing and collaboration from within the apps they use to create most of their shared content…Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This improves productivity by eliminating the task and app switching that would otherwise be required to share newly created content.

Digital Transformation at the Micro Level

Organizations are increasingly looking to optimize their business processes and use digital technologies to transform their business to achieve better outcomes for clients, employees and shareholders. With the e-Share Add-in for Microsoft Office Apps, this transformation can extend down to the individual user and document level, to the time and place that content is created within Microsoft Office and the business need to share new content emerges.

Sharing at the Time & Place of Content Creation

The add-in allows users to create a “Trusted Share” from within Word, Excel and PowerPoint that contains the document being newly created. The Trusted Share is made available to recipients, both inside and outside of your organizations, with access and usage rights determined by the selected sharing policy.

e-Share - share policy

These policies are defined by your organization and can include a wide range of controls…e.g. view, edit, co-author, download, watermark, expiration, share with others, and authentication. Because Trusted Shares are a collaboration object, not merely a pointer to a shared file, recipients can optionally upload files into a Trusted Share…e.g. perhaps a counter proposal to a shared document.

Easy & Highly Collaborative File Sharing

As with all Trusted Shares created through the use of e-Share, the recipient receives a notification of the Trusted Share and, once accessed via the provided link, sees a fully branded file sharing and virtual data room portal. The entire experience is branded per the needs of e-Share’s clients…their logo, colors, and terms of use. Even the URL for the portal and all file links use a subdomain and associated certificate belonging to our client (i.e. files.your-company.com).

e-Share - share policy

This 100% white labeling capability promotes the brand of our client’s, instills trust, addresses recipient phishing concerns and prevents the link blocking common to file sharing directly from Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and SharePoint.

And with our optional Secure Conversations capability, the recipient can message the owner of the Trusted Share, perhaps acknowledging receipt or providing a requested approval.

The Trusted Share owner can see any replies from recipients within the Add-in and optionally reply. They can also open the Trusted Share associated with the shared document to change sharing options, expire the share, add/remove recipients, add additional documents, view any files uploaded by the recipient, and generally manage the Trusted Share.

e-Share - share policy

How do I get the add-in?

The Add-in for Microsoft Office is a user or organization installed extension to Microsoft applications that is available from the Microsoft Store. Once added to Word, Excel or PowerPoint, either in Office Online or Desktop app, it will be available across all instances of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, accessed from the toolbar ribbon.

e-Share - MS Office toolbar ribon

Share the Way You Work

e-Share’s Add-in for Office, coupled with the existing Add-in for Outlook and Bot for Teams, allows users to share files with external parties using whatever workflow they are most comfortable with. In all cases this sharing is performed using a common set of org-defined sharing policies that meet the collaboration needs of the business while assuring compliance with the organization’s data protection and governance policies.

A fuller description of the e-Share platform for external file sharing and content collaboration can be found on our site.

Schedule a demo with us to learn more.

Visit the e-Share web site for details on use cases, success stories and product features.

Keep Your External Collaborations Secure and on Track with e-Share and Microsoft Power BI

e-Share Blog

In meeting the external file sharing, secure email and content collaboration needs of our clients, e-Share has always sought to leverage applications, storage and work flows our clients already have in place. The goal being to increase productivity and drive down IT costs wherever possible.

This extends to the reporting and analytics our clients require to understand what information is being shared with outside parties and how this information is being used. This visibility into how and with whom external collaboration happens allows our clients to keep their information secure and their teams on track.

Though many of our clients output e-Share event logs to Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) products like Splunk, they are always looking to better collect, analyze and act upon the untapped value of the data e-Share generates, giving them the insights to improve the productivity and security of their external collaborations. With the accelerating adoption of Office 365, Microsoft Power BI is increasingly the platform of choice to provide these insights.

e-Share has fully embraced Power BI by creating dashboards and drill down reports that present a variety of views into the e-Share audit data. These reports are hosted in e-Share’s Power BI workspace, running in Microsoft Azure, and published for secure access by our clients using their Power BI license. We can optionally output the e-Share audit data to the cloud file storage of our client’s choosing (e.g. SharePoint Online), from where they can create their own Power BI reports, using our standard report as a starting point for their work.

Power BI

In the report example above we see a high-level view of the external file sharing an organization called Bank2Trust has done. 910 files have been shared by 50 users, with those files being shared from a combination of OneDrive and SharePoint and this sharing increasing over time. A spike in activity occurs on August 4th that invites a closer look. By selecting that peak in the timeline (see the image below), the graphs are now scoped to that day alone, where I can see that the majority of that activity is attributed to file sharing done by Nikos and that these activities are mostly file updates, which are in most all cases innocuous. Note the many filters available to further drill down into the considerable detail that e-Share logs related to Trusted Share creation and usage.

Power BI

The two reports shown above provide an overview, but often times a much more detailed view into Trusted Sharing is needed. For this we provide a much more detailed report, which additionally includes the recipients of Trusted Shares, the specific files that were shared, the rights granted to the recipients, and the actions taken on these shared files by the recipients (see the image below).

Power BI

It may be interesting to look at specific user, data and action combinations to identify external sharing that is worrisome from a data protection standpoint. In the report below we’ve scoped the report to download events only. We see that the majority of recipient downloads are being performed by the recipient organization “e-Share” from Trusted Shares created by Alice. If Alice is a supply chain manager and e-Share a known supplier with an NDA, this activity is not concerning.

Power BI

If I were to be curious about the specific files involved and when the downloads occurred, scrolling down in this report yields further details (see image below). As with all of the reports, powerful filters are available to home in on the activity of specific interest.

Power BI

Trusted Share reporting and analytics via Power BI provides the visibility into how and with whom external collaboration happens so that you can keep your information secure and your collaborations on track.

Schedule a demo with us to learn more.

Visit the e-Share web site for details on use cases, success stories and product features.

Extend Your File Sharing and Content Collaboration to Include 3rd Parties

e-Share Blog

The individuals you share files with outside of your organization are seldom the only ones who require access in order to meet the business need for sharing the file in the first place.

For example:

  • a supplier to whom you’ve sent and RFP may need to pull in a product manager in order to respond,
  • a private wealth client with whom you’ve shared a statement may want their accountant to have access to the same file for tax purposes, and
  • an R&D partner to whom you’ve sent a Joint Venture agreement will almost certainly need their legal counsel to review the contract.

When the need to re-share files arises, you and the outside party have options, but all come with significant drawbacks.

The recipient of a shared file could download the file (assuming you allow this) and pass this onto the other party. But if online editing and co-authoring of the document was your intent, the other party can’t participate.

The recipient could reach out to you and ask you to send the file to the other party or add them to the list of persons authorized to access the shared file, but this is a hassle for both of you and will take some time to coordinate.

But why not allow the recipient of a shared file to assign their rights to access the file to a 3rd party?

e-Share - Invite

With e-Share this can be easily done, either on a policy-basis or a case-by-case basis. And you can optionally require the data owner’s approval for this re-sharing. Better still, you can require this approval:

  • never…all re-sharing is automatically approved,
  • in all cases…all re-sharing must be approved, or
  • only when the additional recipient is not within the same organization as the original recipient.

There are many advantages to allowing 3rd parties to participate in a collaboration.

  • it’s productive for all involved,
  • it encourages more file sharing via links (versus email attachment), and
  • it reduces the need for downloads, eliminating data duplication and versioning issues and improving data protection.

Schedule a demo with us to learn more.

Visit the e-Share web site for details on use cases, success stories and product features.

Sharing & Collaboration in the Age of Epidemics

e-Share Blog

We live in interesting times. As the large enterprise struggles through digital transformation in the Age of AI, it now has to grapple with operating in the Age of Epidemics.

“we see a world that is more connected than ever by international travel, but that has also succumbed to growing isolationism and xenophobia. We see a time when scientific research and the demand for news, the spread of misinformation and the spread of a virus, all happen at a relentless, blistering pace.”

Photo - people using mobile phones

Every organization has curbed business travel and has staff working from home – but they can’t drop the ball with business partners and customers.

Leadership teams that weren’t prepared for this shift found themselves dealing with team mis–alignment, incoherent communication, unexpected expenses, missed revenue – even unhappy consumers. And here’s a reality check: depending on how your company’s journey to the cloud has progressed, you may have few or no external sharing and collaboration options

Trying to use cloud file storage to share files with folks outside your company like auditors, consultants, regulators, partners – even customers – is unfortunately a non-starter for most organizations. The world is dangerous. Bad actors are constantly imitating OneDrive, GDrive, Box and Dropbox for nefarious purposes – like phishing. The reality is that the built-in sharing options are not designed for external users. Their use of their own domain (e.g. box.com and sharepoint.com) for links (among other issues) makes them hard to verify. So they’re usually blocked by large or regulated recipient organizations. [More…]

The good news is, you can add e-Share to your existing O365 or GSuite installation and make sharing quick and easy for all employees! Our enterprise grade platform includes:

  • Out-of-box Integration with Microsoft O365, Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, Azure Blob storage and more
  • Operation under your company’s domain, SSL certificate, logo, colors and legal terms – so recipients know it’s safe to share and collaborate
  • Full support for SSO, auto-provisioning, with no hardware or storage required
  • Powerful sharing features including requiring recipients to login with OpenID, without requiring software download or plug-ins
  • Web based portal allows completely self-service administration 

Find out why some of the most demanding large, regulated enterprises including leading Asset Managers, Health Insurers, Global Manufacturers and Retailers depend on e-Share!

 Schedule a demo with us to see and learn more.

*New* Enterprise API Data Sheet

e-Share Blog
e-Share - Monitor upload & download

The e-Share Platform enables secure external file sharing collaboration between your organization and external recipients of any kind using your existing applications and cloud file storage. Using our Enterprise APIs, organizations can now swiftly implement automated data exchange with external partners at scale without building and managing complex, expensive new infrastructure, or accepting non-compliant solutions.

Our new Enterprise API Data Sheet provides complete details!

Feel free to schedule a demo if you’d like to see them in action, anytime.

Drive Partnerships with Zero Trust?

e-Share Blog

This is the era of the network effect. Volume drives value. The question is, if you don’t have enough volume to create the value you need, how do you get more?

In e-commerce, recommendations are one answer. According to McKinsey, NetFlix obtains more than half of its usage from recommendations.

If you are not an e-commerce company, one answer is partnerships. A strategic partner can provide a path-to-market, often with a fraction of the effort otherwise required. The work is really to enable the partner. The more time and material you share, the better the partnership will go.

Last year our most liked post noted that “partnerships require data exchange”. But, how can you enable a strategic partner to take your product to market without sharing sensitive product material with them? To say nothing of the ad hoc discussions that need to take place as the sales process unfolds.

And selling is just one angle for partnering. Want to reduce costs and engage a supplier to perform a non-core function? You’ll need to share with that supplier. Need to streamline your patent portfolio by bringing in outside counsel and figure out what needs renewing? You’ll have to share with the attorneys and their experts, who are usually contractors. What could go wrong?

If you approach the network effect with fear – as they say in Twin Peaks, it will utterly annihilate you. It’s better not to partner if you can’t share efficiently enough to get the value from it.

To maximize the ROI from partnerships, you must adopt a sharing strategy. We recommend zero-trust:

  1. Don’t share anything unless it is required.
  2. If they don’t need a copy, share in view-only mode
  3. If they do need a copy, sharing must be easy, auditable, traceable and retractable
  4. All shares must expire after some pre-set period

The good news is, the e-Share platform makes this possible in a matter of weeks. Here are some of the sharing scenarios supported out of the box:

Enabling Secure External Collaboration – “Large and especially regulated companies depend more and more on an eco-system of consultants, contractors, freelancers and services. To say nothing of auditors, regulators and even customers. Yet, as firms move to the cloud, excited by the prospect of being able to collaborate with anyone, anywhere – users find they’ve gone backwards…”

Create Virtual Data Rooms for Ad Hoc Collaboration – “A space where an extended team can upload and share content, then negotiate and collaborate – all securely and compliantly, with risk automatically managed per your organizational policies. You can create a VDR in literally one minute by sending an email…”

Sharing From Within Microsoft Teams – “an increasingly popular platform for document collaboration. But sharing conversations and files with non-employees after the debate can be very challenging – especially at large or regulated companies. This encourages non-compliant behavior like using a personal email address, or third party file sharing. (On the plus side, the latter approach probably won’t work.)”

Compliantly Using a Partner’s Infrastructure Choice – “A common security concern regarding both collaboration and storage platforms is the level and uniformity of auditing. For regulated data, this is absolutely essential to get right. Google Drive, for example, shows all users all activity. This might not be suitable for some situations…”

Replace Ad Hoc Data Exchange Infrastructure – “Recently CIOs and CISOs have become concerned with the proliferation of legacy “data exchange infrastructures”. These can be moved to the cloud with no security compromises…

Receiving Files Securely From Anyone – “…fax has huge advantages over email, but there’s a better alternative to both when documents for your organization…

Tell us how you drive partnerships below, or, better yet, schedule a demo to see how e-Share can provide Zero Trust sharing for your organization.

What if your collaboration partner wants to use Dropbox?

e-Share Blog

Should you say yes? What if your large/regulated company blocks that service? How long will it take, and how much effort will it take, for IT to change that. What approvals will be required? And what if they have questions?

A common security concern regarding both collaboration and storage platforms is the level and uniformity of auditing. For regulated data, this is absolutely essential to get right. Google Drive, for example, shows all users all activity. This might not be suitable for some situations. Microsoft OneDrive is more restrained.

Dropbox

Another concern might be the level of control provided during collaboration. Many services only offer collaboration through providing a copy of any documents or other files in question. What if it’s sensitive, and the user doesn’t need a copy? Does the collaboration platform offer a view-only option?

Box share options

You can solve all these issues and enable secure, compliant collaboration on any platform by adding e-Share. We’re already integrated with Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, O365, GDrive and GSuite. Our uniform auditing has passed muster with some of the most sensitive and regulated data.

e-Share - Audit search

In addition, our fine-grained sharing options go way beyond giving away a copy … allowing additional authentication including requiring the user to login with their Google or Microsoft account, specify an access codes, view and edit-only options – and much more.

Schedule a demo today to see how you can say yes to most any collaboration platform – and make IT and your security team happy!

e-Share Collaboration Bot Now Available in MS Teams Store, AppSource

e-Share Blog

e-Share is proud to announce that our External Collaboration Bot for Microsoft Teams is now available in the Teams Store as well as Microsoft AppSource.

In brief: very often the result of a Teams collaboration are files that need review or other use by outside parties – consultants, suppliers, even customers. With the e-Share Bot, you can securely share files and conversations from within the app – without enabling “External Guest Access” for the entire company.

e-Share’s fine grained sharing options, defined by your organization, can restrict access to view-only, require watermark with the recipient’s email and IP address for download, limit to editing online via O365 – and more. The bot even notifies share owners as recipients access content, or upload their own.

Learn more about the bot here. Or contact us to schedule a demo anytime!

Replace your Fax with Share-With-Me Links !!

e-Share Blog
Photo

Believe it or not, many businesses still use fax machines. For security reasons. For compliance purposes. Because it works… simply put, the fax has three huge advantages over email:

  • It’s relatively secure, being on a private network
  • The odds of mis-addressing (sending to the wrong number) are relatively small
  • The delivered content is relatively hard to distribute without a copying machine (at least), and the main exposure is relatively small vs a digital copy

Today, e-Share released a full-on replacement for the fax machine: the Share-With-Me Link.

Put the link on your website, in your email signature, or on your business card… anywhere people who might want to share with you will see it!

Email

Anyone who needs to send you content securely can click or enter the link. They’ll have to briefly register…

e-Share - register

From there, they’ll receive a fully branded invitation, sent from your domain, to a virtual data room created on-the-fly so they can share files with you securely and compliantly!

e-Share - Virtual Data Room

Now the sharer can instantly, securely upload files to you with a single click.

They need only web browser – no plug-ins or software downloads of any kind are required. All transmission is as secure and compliant as a fax machine:

  • Protected in-motion with military grade encryption via your own sub-domain and SSL certificate
  • Incorrect or broken URLs don’t expose the content
  • Persisted only to your organization’s cloud file storage (OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, all via SSO with auto-provisioning) – so it isn’t available to anyone else in your company until you share it

But wait, there’s more!

The ShareWithMe link even includes essential features of enterprise-grade fax machines – like notifications. You’ll be notified automatically by email whenever someone shares with you:

e-Share - notification

The data room automatically enforces a range of sharing and authentication options. These are configured by your organizational administrator. A typical configuration is simply to allow files to be created & uploaded.

e-Share Users: Start Replacing TODAY!

Your Share With Me link is available from the client web portal, under the identity window:

e-Share - Identity window

Just click on the red copy icon, paste it into your email signature and you’re good to go. (Any questions? Contact customer service.)

For more information about this feature and how you can use it to replace your remaining fax machines, please register for a demo.