Google Drive is used by millions of companies worldwide to organize and share files both internally and externally. The wide popularity of the platform is partly because files can easily be shared with vendors, third parties or made publicly accessible. However, this poses significant data security risks for companies, especially as they scale and increase the amount of shared documents containing sensitive company information. Security professionals should be wary of their companies using file-sharing platforms like Google Drive as they open the door for third parties or bad actors to access business-critical data.
Especially as mass layoffs ripple through the technology industry and beyond, organizations should take extra caution with sharing or making internal files public. For instance, a laid-off employee may still have access to company data if the Google Drive was shared with their personal email. This gives the previous and often disgruntled employee the freedom to grant anyone access to private, sensitive company information. Once the shared drive or document link is made public, there is no telling who else might have it. The owner of the file will no longer be able to see every user that has visibility, making the company easy prey for bad actors looking to steal personal or proprietary information within the files.
Adam Gavish is the Co-Founder and CEO at DoControl.
Exacerbating the issue
The growing digital transformation trend and adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications like Google Drive continue to exacerbate this issue of data exposure. Shared documents are becoming increasingly normalized as companies are looking to digitize everyday business operations and processes. As a result, security professionals are transitioning company systems from storing data in on-premise or legacy systems to SaaS applications on the cloud. This increases the likelihood of data exposure as shared files on the cloud can be easily accessed from external parties. Even if security teams implement standard security measures to protect internal assets, it only takes one publicly granted file permission to expose a company’s secrets.
Smaller private companies might think they are not as at-risk for data exposure because they have fewer employees and therefore less assets to protect. However, these organizations should be extra cautious when granting file permissions to third parties. Organizations of every industry must examine their risk as if they already have exposed assets. The fact is, they very well might be vulnerable.
Exterminating your risk with bulk remediation
Security professionals might be wondering the best and quickest way to protect their company from the significant data security risks posed by file-sharing SaaS applications. In order to quickly and automatically safeguard mass amounts of company data, organizations should look to implement bulk remediation capabilities within their security practices. By bulk remediating data exposure, Security teams can cover all their bases and avoid third party unwanted access by revoking unnecessary permissions. This is a quick and easy way organizations can guarantee internal security as they scale and become more digitized.
With bulk remediation capabilities, security professionals can categorize each file or folder by level of security risk. This will help identify sensitive assets and assist with prioritization over which are most at-risk and should be rectified quickly. Then, file permissions can be adjusted so only the necessary individuals have access. Automatic workflows can also be integrated to remove external access after a set amount of time according to internal compliance regulations. This will be a crucial tool in helping organizations stay up-to-date with security protocols and federal regulations, leaving nothing to chance.
Employees, vendors, and internal data will likely exponentially increase as an organization grows. Security teams are faced with the enormous obstacle of ensuring accurate and appropriate access levels for each file and user when remediating inherited permissions. To prevent unforeseen outcomes, careful preparation and a detailed knowledge of the current authorization systems are necessary.
However, coordinating and carrying out bulk remediation steps can take a lot of time and resources, especially when dealing with shared drives that house a large number of files. Many cloud, developer, security, and IT teams have different access requirements that vary for each individual file. The process can become even more complicated when faced with attempting to strike a balance between minimizing disruption to users’ workflows and implementing appropriate data security safeguards.
Best practices for security professionals
Before attempting to maximize SaaS data security with bulk remediation, Security professionals should first identify their present risk exposure, the quantity of shared files, and the number of SaaS applications that are used within the company. This will assist them in giving priority to remediating access for documents that contain private information such as PII that must be dealt with right away. Once they have full visibility of their data exposure, security teams should seek an automated bulk remediation solution that will assist them in quickly managing complex file permissions. This will guarantee that all security blind spots are swiftly fixed. To save time and money as their businesses grow, they should search for adaptable solutions that will enable them to automatically fix these vulnerabilities.
Security professionals should also make sure that they are utilizing SaaS applications that meet their company’s security criteria. This is essential to both comply with federal corporate compliance rules and prevent the exposure of sensitive data. Data posture should be reviewed every quarter to determine whether SaaS applications are adequately protecting their private assets. Automated workflows within bulk remediation programs should be updated on a regular basis to guarantee that businesses do not overlook emerging security gaps.
Each company has its own standards and rules that they will deem to be best practices to maintain the security of internal files. Nevertheless, Security professionals should consistently evolve their security protocols as the world becomes more digital and the demand for SaaS apps increases tremendously.
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Adam Gavish is the Co-Founder and CEO at DoControl, a well-funded SaaS Security startup backed by global cybersecurity leader Crowdstrike.