What About “The Dropbox Problem”?

“The Dropbox problem” is the term applied to the widespread and problematic use of consumer-focused file sync and share tools that was popularized by Dropbox, the most commonly used tool in this space. In fact, a search for “the Dropbox problem” in Google returns nearly 4,000 results.

To be fair, however, there are a large and growing number of tools similar to Dropbox that are offered by a wide variety of cloud providers. Moreover, most of these tools work as advertised – most provide users with several gigabytes of cloud storage and allow them to synchronize any file across all of their desktop, laptop and mobile platforms automatically.

And therein lies the problem: these tools allow any file to be synchronized across any device by any corporate user without the oversight or control of that user’s IT function. This means that corporate financial information, employee records, customer financial information, embargoed press releases, and any other sensitive or confidential information can be synchronized to any user’s device without first being encrypted, without an audit trail established to track the data, without an ability to prevent critical information from being modified, without any control over who has access to this data, and without any control over where and by whom that data is stored. This creates enormous legal, regulatory, privacy and other risks for an organization that allows these tools to be used.

The good news is that most decision makers and influencers are at least beginning to take the problem seriously. In a survey conducted by Osterman Research in January 2015, five out of six IT decision makers and influencers told us they are at least “somewhat” concerned about the use of consumer-focused file sync and share tools – and nearly one in five are “very concerned”.

We have just published a white paper on this issue that discusses the results of our research and offers some guidance on what organizations can do to address the problem they face from unmanaged file sync and share tools used in their organization. You can download the white paper here.

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