Tips to protect your files when sharing them with others

it_security_network_cable_lockProtection of personal data is not a very popular topic among people, all we do is set a password on our email service and assume that we are protected from everything, and older generation just do not install new software on their computers as they are scared that “something bad is going to happen”. In order to clarify the topic about file protection we have created this small instruction guide.
Remember that emails are not highly protected when they are travelling between one mail service and another, let’s say from Yahoo to Gmail, assuming that the mail servers themselves are well protected. So what can we do to maximize the protection level of our email message and moreover the files we are sharing with our business colleagues or even family members?

1. Password protect your files

It is not totally secure, but it makes it harder for a person to hack a file. Microsoft Office has a very simple option to password protect your file. It is located in Options -> Permissions. It is useful to ALWAYS password protect your excel files (spreadsheet of your clients data, your suppliers list, price list etc.). Better be safe than sorry!

Make sure you remember the password, otherwise you won’t be able to open a file, as the password cannot be retrieved! To protect other files or folders you wish to share, just archive them and protect with a password as well. But remember that the addressee can pass the protected document and the password to any person.

2. Carefully consider who are you sending an email to

I have come across many situations where people have sent an important email to the wrong person. You know that when you start to fill in the email address, it gives you some suggestions. When you type in David, it automatically opens all David’s you have emailed or received emails from. Make sure you pick the right “David”. Also, don’t send the emails containing confidential data to a big group of people as it increases the risk of breaking down the security. Additionally, check the recipients level of security, as some free email service are pretty insecure, like Internet Explorer which is only used to download other browsers :).

3. Use email services with encryption and PC binding

Encrypted emails/files with PC binding are the best option of protection. Encryption means that a message or a file to be sent will be encoded in such way that only the authorized party can read it. PC binding provides connection between a protected document and the addressee’s computer. It means that the file can be opened only on authorized computer and can’t be sent or opened on other devices. A perfect example of such email service is SFLetter – simple interface, message protection as well as PDF and JPG attachments, and email tracking option (IP address and time). Using an email service with encryption minimizes the risk of confidential information leakage by 99%. SFLetter is used by big transport companies, banks, IT companies and also by various small businesses. It allows you to protect not only the PDF’s, but the message itself and the protection level is pretty high as it uses encryption and not just a password as the options mentioned above in this article. An email sent by SFLetter can only be decrypted by the recipient and a special Viewer software has to be used. Although these procedures could discourage people from using it, such services should be used by companies who want to maximally reduce the possibility of confidential data leaking with minimal costs, because the service is free.

Guest article written by: Taras Gorevoi – Automotive Engineer and Marketing Manager, whose main hobby is IT Technologies.

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