Email encryption

Quick guide to secure file sharing

From that picture of your new puppy sent to your sister to sensitive customer data shared between departments, secure file sharing matters more than ever. Data protection laws and CISO-set security protocols are in place for your benefit, as well as that of your business. 

Understanding the best practices helps you and your teams stay safe and within regulations while allowing you to recognise when unsafe or non-compliant practices occur. 

What is secure file sharing?

Secure file sharing allows businesses to protect shared files from unauthorised access, data loss, breaches, or threat actor incursions. This secure system protects files at rest, when stored, and when in transit. Security protocols and best practices are based on data protection laws, like GDPR, as well as company-specific policies.

A commercially available file-sharing platform can take care of that puppy pic, but a higher level of security must be in place for business data. Compliance should lead your file-sharing system decision-making. Many consumer web- or cloud-based file-sharing services can leave you with zero traceability if there's an audit required. 

How it works 

Secure file sharing uses a key to encrypt the file, scrambling the content from would-be hackers. Users attach this encrypted file to an email and send it securely, with additional encryption, to the intended recipient. For larger files, users can upload them to a secure cloud-based sharing service.

Ensuring only the intended recipient can open the file means using other security features. Those might include a password agreed by the sender and recipient, a security certificate to automatically confirm both parties' identities, and a time-sensitive login with status tracing. 

A business-grade file-sharing system might add additional measures for increased security and compliance, like access limitations. What your business requires depends on the regulatory standards you need to comply with and the types of files you're sending.

What are the business benefits of secure file sharing?


Increased secure collaboration

Secure file sharing is an essential component of any collaborative enterprise. An easy-to-use, secure file sharing system that has your employees' trust and confidence is vital. If a system is difficult to use, employees may default to less secure solutions they've already familiarised themselves with. 

Client confidence

When clients securely receive sensitive files from you (perhaps financial or medical information), their confidence in your ability to take care of what matters most to them strengthens. Happy, long-term clients and the referrals they send your way are good for your business.

Stay compliant

The right system should include the correct traceability, encryption, and reporting to ensure your business stays compliant with data protection laws, like GDPR.

The risks secure file sharing mitigates

The 2021 Cyber Security Breaches Survey reports that four in ten UK businesses (39%) experienced cyber security attacks or breaches in the past 12 months. The risks involved when data breaches occur can cascade at a frightening speed. A secure file-sharing system can mitigate some of these risks, including preventing malicious intent and data loss caused by human error — while ensuring you comply with data protection regulations.

Comprehensive data security software, with secure file sharing, can:

  • Identify and isolate viruses, spyware, and denial of service attacks
  • Recognise phishing and impersonation attempts
  • Override human error, such as incorrect recipient email addresses, using contextual machine learning
  • Log user habits to identify malicious intent among employees
  • Ensure GDPR compliance
  • Help protect you from the legal actions and fines that follow data loss or breaches

Secure file sharing is a non-negotiable for businesses that handle sensitive and personal data. The right software helps keep you compliant while protecting your business from data breaches, loss caused by human error, and those acting with malicious intent.

Interested in learning more about secure file sharing? Check out Egress Secure Workspace, our  seamless file sharing and secure online collaboration tool.


What is the safest way to share files?

The most secure way to share files is by using encryption to protect the contents. The safest way to allow access is using an encryption key or a secure access link.

How do I protect a shared file?

There are several ways to protect a shared file; these include:

  • Setting up a password to protect access
  • Setting limits on changes
  • Defining access levels
  • Setting up encryption for documents at rest
  • Retaining control of the document to monitor what happens to it digitally

What is the most secure way to transfer a file? 

While online file-sharing services are a useful alternative to emailing (if you send files exceeding size limits), they may not be compliant or secure. Invest in software that puts encryption and sharing controls in your own hands as a more secure way to transfer a file.

What is the simplest way to secure files?

First, make sure you are complying with any industry-related regulations or data protection laws. You may also secure your data files in these simple ways: 

  • Passwords protect files at rest or when shared
  • Make digital copies of everything and cloud store them
  • Encrypt files when in transit
  • Have a clear data protection policy for employees to follow