The Complete Guide to Online Secure File Sharing

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Secure document sharing continues to be a priority for a growing number of organizations. The best method depends primarily on the information contained in the documents, who you are sharing them with and for how long they need to access them. Cloud storage is perhaps the single most popular solution. However, it’s not your only option, nor is it the most practical when you need to share highly sensitive information.

With CapLinked,

Sharing File Online is Secure and Easy

 

Sign up today and get:

  • Unlimited access to CapLinked for 14 days
  • Dedicated workspace for your team to share and collaborate
  • Advanced admin controls for additional document security

Discover how CapLinked can help your business today!

Other File Sharing Platforms

  • Hidden Fees

    Legacy client portals only offer contracts based on page or data usage. This causes deals to run over budget and unexpected fees when it comes time to pay the bill.

  • Clunky Interface

    Older client portals were designed in the 1990’s, and haven’t seen a facelift since. They can be confusing and difficult to manage, leaving the user vulnerable to costly mistakes. Imagine accidentally giving document access to the wrong group!

  • Annoying Installs

    Older client portals require insecure and irritating plugins and external software to use DRM, Watermarking, even to upload a single file. Everyone has to download and maintain extra software just to use these older products, and your documents are susceptible to security breaches in each of these plugins.

CapLinked’s Solution

  • Flexible Pricing

    With CapLinked, you’ll know your total cost from the start. Never be surprised by hidden fees or get charged extra for adding users or files. Focus on your deals, not your final bill.

  • Easy to Use

    Every feature within CapLinked is built to streamline your existing workflow and save countless hours of valuable time. Our intuitive interface means you can get up and running in no time. No lengthy trainings or frequent calls to support. We couldn’t make it any easier if we tried.

  • No Plugins

    Never deal with the hassle of external software or plugins again. Access CapLinked through your browser from any desktop or mobile device, and rest easy knowing all your files are safe and secure. Secure document sharing has never been more convenient.

Types of File Sharing

When sharing files with other employees, business partners, consultants, investors or anyone else who temporarily needs access, you have several options.

Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)

FTP is as old as the internet itself and is still a standard way of sharing files for many organizations. It can be used with a command prompt. However, services like FileZilla allow you to simply drag and drop files to upload them to any destination. While FTP has no encryption, SFTP (secure FTP) protects in-transit data with secure shell encryption, also known as SSH. This method doesn’t use the internet, and only the recipient can access files. It’s used primarily for large files or uploading content to websites.

Peer to Peer (P2P) File Sharing

P2P networks allow computers to connect without the need of a server between them. In this decentralized network model, each computer, or node, can communicate with others equally and unencumbered. This makes transferring files using P2P both fast and reliable, but creates some security concerns. The most famous, although now defunct, P2P platform was Napster. The most well-known P2P protocol today is BitTorrent. If you share files over a chat program, you may be using a version of P2P file sharing, provided your files are not routed through an intermediary server. Determining whether a chat program is truly P2P can be difficult, however, since most use proprietary code unavailable to the public.

File Sharing through Cloud Services

Cloud services are the most common method for sharing files today. You’ve most likely used one of them, like Google Cloud, Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, as well as Dropbox and Box. You upload a file to the cloud server and, when you give someone the link, they can download it. They can also edit files you upload, provided you give them permission to do so, as well as upload their own files to shared folders. These make excellent collaboration services with good, or moderately good, file protection.

Email Attachments

While email providers don’t advertise themselves as file sharing services, this is exactly what people use email for every day. You simply add your file as an attachment and send the email. The other person can then download it. There are usually file size limits for attachments; however, services like Gmail combine their cloud storage with email so that large files automatically upload to the cloud server, bypassing the file size limitation.

Portable Physical Storage

Physical storage devices can be a good way to share files, provided you’re in close proximity to the other person. USB storage devices hold up to a few terabytes of data and, if you keep the devices with you, are highly secure. The chief disadvantage is that they need to be literally in-hand to use.

Commonly Overlooked Issues that Compromise Document Security

Few organizations today do not put a priority on document security. Yet, even the most security-conscious firms have had their important files breached. The prevalence of malware, ransomware and hackers routinely makes headline news.

  • Home Computers

    Many of the security precautions set at the workplace become meaningless when workers can log in from home and store files on home computers. The number of people working from home increased sharply with the COVID-19 pandemic and this number is not expected to decline by much as employers continue to make working from home an option, even on an occasional basis. 

    Home computers bring a new level of complexity to document security. Employees can install whatever software they want on a home computer, as can others in their household. Their antivirus and anti-malware software is not necessarily current. And there is no guarantee that home users have installed recent security upgrades for their software and operating systems.

  • Human Error

    If employees are not trained in basic document security, it’s easy for them to inadvertently cause a security breach, or to be manipulated into doing so. Social engineering is a common practice among hackers. This strategy can include calling employees, pretending to be IT security staff and simply asking for passwords. Another example of social engineering is dressing up as a maintenance worker, entering an office and connecting a USB drive to an unattended workstation. 

    Awareness training can reduce many of these risks, such as teaching employees what type of behavior to look for, how to choose secure passwords and how to discern a legitimate website link from a dangerous one.

  • Inside Attacks

    Unfortunately, not all employees are innocent bystanders when it comes to security breaches. Running background checks on job candidates can reduce the risk of hiring someone who may be tempted to infiltrate your systems to sell confidential information for quick cash. 

    You may not suspect this is a problem for your organization, particularly if you work at a small firm and know your coworkers well. However, one survey estimated that 35% of all IT security breaches are inside jobs from malicious employees.

  • Consultants and Other Organizations

    Similar to the issues of home computers, workstations that are controlled by other organizations can introduce security threats. If you allow someone from another firm to access your documents, your document security is now limited by that organization’s defenses and policies. The following is a list of questions that company owners and IT personnel should ask before engaging with third parties.

    – What is their policy on password security?

    – Do they use current virus and anti-malware software?

    – Is their firewall firmware up-to-date?

    – Do they train their employees in file security?

    – Do they run background checks on their employees?

Learn more

The Importance of CyberSecurity

Crucial Document Security Best Practices

Document Tracking 101: How to Keep Track of Shared Files

Why You Should Care About Your Document Security

Green and grey vector icon illustrating CapLinked api security features

Every organization may have different reasons for sharing sensitive or confidential documents, but they all must give their utmost attention to the security of such information. In particular this includes information about the following:

  • Upcoming projects or business transactions.
  • Research and development.
  • Financial details.
  • Customer information.
  • Supplier or business partner information.

Whenever information belonging to third parties — such as clients, employees and business partners — is involved, your firm could be subject to lawsuits if it should fall into the wrong hands.

Data Compliance

A growing number of states and countries, as well as industry-related regulatory agencies (such as FINRA), have adopted strict guidelines for the storage and sharing of data. These include the following:

GDPR: The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to any organization doing business with anyone in the EU. Not only do organizations need to obtain consent before capturing client information, that information must be as minimal as possible and safeguarded at all times.

HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 specifies how U.S. organizations accessing an individual’s medical and health care records must ensure the safety and confidentiality of this information.

PCI DSS: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) has its own rules for how organizations must protect the information of credit card holders, including but not limited to credit card numbers. Their requirements range from having adequate firewalls to running tests and audits on processes to ensure the safeguarding of sensitive information.

Popular Online File Sharing Platforms

– Pros and Cons –

There have never been so many options for online storage and file sharing than there are today. Security ranges from good to adequate on most of these platforms. For business use, most are convenient for sharing a limited number of documents that do not require ironclad security — like marketing documents, internal memos, inventory lists and other non-sensitive documents.

Google Drive

Google Drive was one of the first cloud storage platforms to popularize online document collaboration, with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. Compatible with Microsoft Office files, Google Drive allows anyone to work on documents online, at the same time, from anywhere in the world. Google Drive itself is a secure file sharing service that can sync with files on your computer for offline editing. (You can learn more about the shortcomings of Google Drive in our blog post.)

Pros:  The first 15 GB of storage is free of charge. All you need is a Gmail account.

Cons: Sharing settings can be difficult to manage, particularly if you want to give access to multiple people with different permissions, like editing or read-only access.

iCloud Drive

iCloud is Apple’s answer to cloud storage. New Mac computers, iPhones, and iPads are shipped with iCloud Drive pre-installed and ready for use. Because it is designed for personal use, its security guardrails may not be suitable for companies that share sensitive data. 

Pros: iCloud Drive is free for Apple customers. It integrates seamlessly with the Mac OSX and iOS operating systems. You can work on a document using your iPhone and then switch to your MacBook without having to manually track changes.

Cons: iCloud Drive is designed specifically for Apple customers. Windows PC users have limited access to iCloud services and are limited to 5 GB of storage.

Microsoft OneDrive

Microsoft offers its own cloud storage solution in OneDrive. It’s designed primarily for data backup and for sharing files within an organization. It’s integrated into the Windows operating system and anyone with a Microsoft email account or Microsoft Office account can use it. 

Pros: OneDrive is free to use and it works extremely well with Microsoft Office. 

Cons: OneDrive has limited support for Mac OSX and it has slow download and upload speeds.

Dropbox

Dropbox was the first platform to make cloud storage a popular solution for consumers. Mobile apps and computer software programs quickly adopted Dropbox as their go-to solution for cross-platform storage and file sharing. 

Pros: Dropbox is still a very popular platform despite competition from Google, Apple and Microsoft. Most people are familiar with Dropbox, so sharing files with others is seldom an issue. 

Cons: Dropbox offers only 2 GB of free storage. Collaborating on documents between users can be complicated to manage.

Box

Box was another pioneer in the early cloud storage development days. Not as well-known as Dropbox, it still has a strong presence in the market. It is designed to provide consumers and organizations with a centralized cloud storage receptacle for collaborating on files. 

Pros: Box works very well for large organizations with large amounts of data to share. It’s integratable with sophisticated enterprise-grade network security. 

Cons: Box can be expensive for smaller organizations. Previewing files can be difficult to do.

WeTransfer

As its name suggests, WeTransfer is designed less for storage and more for quickly and easily transferring files from one person to another. Once you upload your files, your recipients can download them without the need of an account. 

Pros: WeTransfer is a fast and easy solution for file transfers that don’t require file security.

Cons: There is a 2 GB limit for the free plan, with no file security. Password-protected transfers and 1 TB of storage are available with premium plans.

How to Select the Best File Sharing Platforms

Before deciding on a file sharing solution, make a list of your specific needs, as well as a list of what you expect to need in the future. A small software or animation development firm that only runs Mac computers, for example, may be happily using iCloud, but this could change quickly if they require additional financing and have to share company documents with PC-based investors. Similarly, a growing company using Dropbox or Google Drive may soon have issues managing share permissions as more new hires are brought on board. 

 

While your organization’s specific needs can vary from other organizations’ specific needs, here are some of the most important features most firms look for:

  • Document security: As computers and hacking technology improve, moving forward, 256-bit encryption should be your new standard.
  • Industry compliance: Your service must adhere to your organization’s compliance requirements, as well as those of your clients. 
  • Multiple collaboration tools: Collaborating online requires support for multiple file types and online chat options, as well as tools to easily track changes and revision histories, change permission settings and automatically save new files without prompts.  
  • DRM: Digital rights management allows you to track and control downloaded documents in addition to those on your shared server.
  • Scalability: You should not be limited when it comes to growth opportunities. Watch for hidden fees when more people or more storage is required.

Learn more

How to Protect Intellectual Property with Technology

Types of Encryption: What Should Your Business Use?

FINRA-Approved Cloud Storage Requirements

Vetting an Online Document Sharing Platform

Unfortunately, the VDR market has become crowded in recent years with many companies offering cloud storage that comes with hidden prices, rudimentary security features and limited collaboration features. Others will offer expanded features, but only with a significant hike in usage fees. 

Leasing a virtual data room is a lot like leasing office space. You can’t rely on the marketing material alone. When you sign up for a free trial, take a good look at the features and make sure the plan you are considering offers exactly what you need. You don’t want to migrate all of your documents onto a platform only to discover a month later that what you were promised comes with a hefty surcharge. 

During the trial, explore the user interface to ensure it’s intuitive and easy-to-use. Upload some files, set some group permissions and then have someone access those files. Explore the access control and tracking features. Test the DRM features by revoking access to a document and see what happens.

 

Sign up today and get:

  • Unlimited access to CapLinked for 14 days
  • Dedicated workspace for your team to share and collaborate
  • Advanced admin controls for additional document security

Discover how CapLinked can help your business today!

Over 250,000 professionals from 75+ countries and nearly half of the Fortune 1000 companies use CapLinked.

Blue Logo for KPMG, a customer for CapLinked due diligence data rooms unnamed (1)Main Microsoft Logo is red, green, yellow, and blue. Microsoft pays for secure virtual data rooms by CapLinked.Comcast uses CapLinked VDRsroche_logo

Why CapLinked is the Leader in the VDR Technology

Many companies trusted CapLinked as their online file sharing platform. CapLinked offers the following features:

  • Military-grade 256-bit encryption
  • SSAE18 and ISO 27001 certified servers
  • HIPAA and SOC 2 compliance
  • Plugin-free technology that eliminates software updates and associated security threats
  • State-of-the-art DRM technology
  • Digital watermarking with customization options
  • Full-featured activity tracking
  • 99.95% Guaranteed Uptime Service Level Agreements

How to Use CapLinked to

Share Documents Online Securely

Once you enter a CapLinked VDR Workspace, you will immediately see that all of the sophisticated technology that protects your documents has an easy-to-use interface that allows you to quickly set up your VDR exactly as you need it, without a steep learning curve. 

Getting started with CapLinked is very easy, as the following steps make clear:

  1. Create a free account. There is no need for credit card information or any other details. All you need is your workplace email address.
  2. Login.
  3. Create a folder, or several folders side-by-side or in a tree.
  4. Upload a test document, or several.
  5. Set up group permissions for non-administrators.
  6. Invite colleagues to a group within the Workspace.

Why Caplinked:

  • World-class security
  • Easy-to-use
  • Seamless Integrations/API
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Enterprise-level solution
  • 24/7/365 Customer service

Online Document Sharing from Start to Finish

1. Upload

Managing thousands (or more) of protected documents has never been this fast or easy.

2. Invite

Advanced permissions control who gets access at all times to as many people as you want.

3. Collaborate

Q&A, versioning, notifications, and mobile access are just a few ways. Get a demo to learn more.

4. Track

Downloads, uploads, views, updates, comments, and custom reports. Even control access after download with FileProtect DRM.

Choose a better virtual data room

Try CapLinked Today!

CapLinked is the leader in enterprise-class VDR technology, with plans that are affordable for even the smallest business. Setting up a CapLinked Workspace takes only 10 or 15 minutes, depending on how many different types of group permissions you want to configure.

If you have any questions, contact support at any time to see how helpful and accommodating our sales staff and customer support engineers are.  

To explore these features for yourself, sign up for a free trial.



Learn More About Secure File Sharing

What are the risks of online file sharing?

Without using a secure virtual data room, data can be breached through unwanted external sources and password sharing.

What is the most secure way to transfer confidential information?

While there are endless ways to share files online, the most secure way to transfer confidential information is through a virtual data room (VDR) that protects and encrypts your data end-to-end. Caplinked provides a secure platform to conduct and share information with ease.

How should I determine the most secure platform for online file sharing?

You need to evaluate each online file sharing platform based on several essential factors, from the control capabilities, compliance and industry standards, to customer service. Please read the 7 features each document security system should have.

Are Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box secure enough for a due diligence process?

No, those online sharing platforms don't provide enough security for your due diligence. In 2016, file hosting site Dropbox was hacked. Millions of people had their login credentials exposed, which prompted the company to reset all passwords going back four years. Learn more which secure file sharing platform you should use here.

Is a transaction room secure enough?

A transaction room allows all parties to sign documents easily. However, it may not be a secure file sharing platform. In some situations, such as due diligence before an M&A deal, may require a higher level of security that a virtual data room provides. Know the difference between a transaction room and VDR before sharing any file online.

Why does a due diligence process need a secure virtual data room?

The due diligence process before a merger and acquisition deal will work on highly confidential documents like financial statements, assets, employees data and payroll. In addition to that, there are several parties working on the report. CapLinked makes it easier to compile your due diligence report by enabling your staff to track changes in files, manage file permissions, and even revoke access after download.

What are some tips on how to secure Word Documents?

You can secure your Word Documents by making them Read-Only and/or encrypt them with a password. However, if you are working on highly sensitive materials, individual document protection is not enough.

Do I need to encrypt my business documents?

You should encrypt your business documents, especially if they contain confidential information and will be shared with multiple people. The level of encryption may vary depending on your business needs. Learn more about types of encryption here.

Who should use Caplinked as the secured file sharing platform?

CapLinked provides a secure document sharing platform for all types of business. It enables different parties to share data and communicate without the risk of any information breach.

How do I monitor the access level of users to the files in the dataroom?

User access can by monitored, adjusted, and/or removed at anytime by administrators to the dataroom via the Permissions module on the CapLinked browser.