Top 5 Reasons External File Sharing is Difficult and What To Do About It

Sharing files with external parties is fraught with a mix of uncertainty, risk and complexity, for both the individual and the organization. This is especially so when the files to be shared:

  • contain regulated data,
  • are many in number and/or size,
  • require modification by the external party,
  • are created within and shared from internal collaboration systems (e.g., Teams), or
  • are sent to clients, for whom you want the best possible experience.

Under these circumstances users are struggling, IT is burdened and/or information security intervenes. But this does not have to be. There are steps you can take to improve the productivity of your file sharing and content collaboration with external parties, while not compromising on data security.

Here are the Top 5 issues we see users and organizations confronting, and the steps they’ve taken to eliminate them.

1.  Users have to get IT involved to move large/bulk files

With email being a non-option for most (more on this later), users turn to IT for help, often by opening a ticket with the unhappy expectation of a several days turnaround while IT sets up an SFTP folder/account, creates a SharePoint site, or takes some other action.

The alternative is to provide a self-service file sharing capability, preferably one that allows the user to share files without the need to copy files into a new environment. For example, if the user’s files are already in OneDrive, SharePoint or Teams, allow them to share files from these locations. If there are missing security controls for you to allow this, consider providing these controls via e-Share.

2.  Users have too many tools to choose from

This embarrassment of riches leaves users confused, IT struggling to maintain overlapping capabilities, and security burdened with maintaining multiple DLP policies.

The solution is to adopt a single platform for external file sharing that allows users to share files using the tools and workflows they are already familiar with. For organizations that have deployed O365, this is Teams, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Outlook and Office Apps. The common platform allows the organization to define a uniform set of sharing policies, no matter how files are shared. It also creates a single audit log for compliance reporting, risk assessment and investigations. e-Share can be that single platform, leveraging the strengths of O365 and providing the controls, branding and ease-of-use features that organizations require.

3.  Your O365-equipped organization does not allow file sharing via Teams, SharePoint and/or OneDrive.

Your users want to share files using the applications and workflows they are already using, but you are forcing them to seek other tools and, in most all cases, copy the shared files into those tools, manage file updates and changes between two copies and master yet-another application for file sharing.

The solution of course is to allow your users to stay within Teams, Outlook and Office Apps, and for your files to stay within SharePoint Online and OneDrive…all while securely sharing files externally. This is precisely what e-Share allows.

4.  It is difficult to manage file versions and often impossible to co-author documents

By forcing your users to store and share files outside of O365 you are preventing them from benefitting from the modern collaboration it makes possible. For example, they are left exchanging multiple copies of contract, hoping that redlines are not conflicting and using ‘merge and compare’ to avoid a catastrophe. That’s the stuff of the last decade, not this one.

The best way to avoid version confusion and truly co-author documents is to provide recipients a link to shared files, not the file itself. This modern collaboration capability is easy with e-Share, which natively integrates with Office Online and uses OneDrive and SharePoint Online to store all shared files.

5.  Email is surprisingly unpredictable and inflexible

Past experience prompts many questions when sharing files as an email attachment. Is the file size too large? Will a secure mail system unexpectedly kick in and create a bad experience for my customer? Will I run afoul of a compliance policy? Can I reliably recall an email sent to the wrong person? At the root of these questions is the organization’s inflexible approach to email, especially in the presence of regulated data. Email works, until it doesn’t.

Taking the mystery out of email can be achieved through well communicated security policies, DLP rules that offer more than allow or deny as outcomes, and a modern approach to secure email that provides a great recipient user experience. e-Share can help you realize the latter two, with the ability independently protect the body and attachments of an email and optionally replace all email attachments with links.

Taken together, the steps outlined here allow organizations to take the pain away from their external file sharing, enabling users to more easily, confidently and securely share files and collaborate with external parties to drive better business outcomes.

Be The Bridge, Not The Blocker With Link Sharing Protocols

e-Share Blog

A reflection from July 4th. When we are on vacation we make it our mission to get the most out of the time we spend away – with families, friends, even hobbies. Back at work, we are re-invigorated and attack the pile of work that inevitably awaits…

This is, as an excellent blog post noted last week, a time that brings “a certain amount of risk”.

Perhaps you have an email from a colleague linking to an article and asking you to take a look.

“If we were entirely rational beings, we’d compute the exact expected outcome of taking each risk in turn. It’d be an exhausting life, and one in which we wouldn’t get much done.”

Laptop typing Photo

So we don’t compute risk every second. This email is from a colleague. They clicked it first, right?

Do you click the link, or not? The reality is that there are two approaches in IT to dealing with this situation. The first is to block the link and protect the user. The second is to provide some sort of method for ad hoc sharing that requires a series of approvals, provisioning of hardware and/or software and/or accounts, and then getting the person on the receiving end to do the same.

So, what if the user trades in information for your company? For example – if they are in sales. They may need a favor from the colleague in the future. A tip. An introduction. A bit of information.

What if they have to read this article to complete their mission? The answer is that if IT offers nothing but prevention, they will turn to some other method. They’ll try to send it via GMail. Or Dropbox. Or This may be problematic.

The good news is that there is a far better way to support this user: deploy e-Share!

Here’s why:

e-Share diagram

1. e-Share’s cloud platform is fully integrated with O365. Your administration and security teams can use our self service platform to set policies that govern sharing. When the user needs to share with an unknown domain they can send an email and it and/or the attachments are automatically secured. Power users can choose from a range of fine-grained options that go way beyond read-only.

2. e-Share operates on your sub-domain, with your SSL certificate, and via single-sign on. Your employees will never see our URL or logo.

e-Share - Smart URL

3. You can train your users to look at URL domains. That’s a much simpler proposition than trying to explain phishing in all it’s glory.

Even if they make a mistake, with e-Share, the worst case scenario is a view-only share which they can immediately recall. Further, if they realize something was shared with the wrong person they can instantly terminate the link. (Even if they don’t, the link expires automatically after a few days.)

Learn about how leading companies use e-Share to drive cross-company collaboration and please, schedule a demo to see how it can help your company.

Zero Trust About Where You Store Content

e-Share Blog

A tough data breach this week. A sharing service ended up “sending its users shared files to the wrong people“.

The root cause could easily be a software issue, a breach in an underlying system (like a database), or some sort of hack – malware, causing clients to exfiltrate data, or perhaps an intruder doing the same.

This is why large and regulated enterprises block many third-party services. Simply put, it’s hard to know how good their internal security is – or how good the security of the provider they purchase it from is – or how carefully they screen their employees, how thoroughly they retire old hardware, or how much insurance they really have.

And it takes a lot of time, knowledge and effort to verify anything. The average security review costs more than $10,000 and many cost an order of magnitude or more. Why not just ask a simple question:

Where do you store my company’s data, and how do maintain our control over it?

The e-Share platform was designed from the zero trust perspective to resist this type of issue by storing as little customer data as possible.

Login with Microsoft

More specifically:

  • e-Share can be configured to store no passwords, requiring login via OpenID. Employees login with their corporate account and are automatically provisioned for services per organizational policies.
  • All shared content and conversations are stored in your organization’s cloud file storage system – OneDrive, GoogleDrive, Dropbox or Box.
  • Using O365 or GSuite online, our integrations access the global address list, and all email is subject to existing organizational compliance and security processes, from 2FA to virus and malware scanning and domain/recipient blocking.

e-Share is proud to protect the data of companies with a lot of sensitive data the business requirement to share it.

Storage providers

Register for a demo anytime to learn how you can deploy e-Share and enable Secure External Collaboration for your company!

Viewer ! = Downloader

e-Share Blog

Today let’s look at the “share” dialog from a large cloud file storage provider:

Box share options

Why would you give someone Editor vs. Viewer access?

The reality is, they’re basically the same, excessively permissive set of rights. While technically the viewer can’t edit the shared material where it was shared from, they can download it and modify it and share it back with you. So the net difference is really upload.

A “viewer” should be limited to viewing the document. Downloading, editing online or offline, copy/paste, printing, should all be disabled.That’s how you share sensitive information compliantly.

There isn’t even an “advanced” option!

The good news: you can use e-Share to share in real view-only mode, right from the enterprise applications you already use – like Office 365, GSuite, Microsoft Teams or Slack. As easily as you can send an email.

e-Share - Email confidential design

Among other things, e-Share’s enterprise-class platform offers alternatives to requiring full registration, including login with OpenID, use of access codes, and more.

e-Share - Fine grained sharing options

You can configure these centrally, and choose to allow users to override only when appropriate and authorized.

Schedule a demo to see for yourself!