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The True Cost of Google Drive

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Today Google announced the launch of Google Drive, a cloud-based file storage and synchronization solution touting 5GB of storage for free. Google Drive just compounded the IT security nightmare already created by free unmanaged consumer file sharing services such as Dropbox, iCloud etc.

Unmanaged file sharing in business environments is never a good idea because of the heightened risk of data loss and exposure. In the case of Google, a company that’s built its legacy on extensive search engine and targeted advertising capabilities, you also have to question Google’s intentions with storing business information. Just how equipped is Google to handle confidential business data?

If this latest Google Drive announcement is leaving you confused about what to do for business file sharing, you’re not alone.

To help you navigate your way, we’ve outlined six questions to ask when considering a file sharing and storage solution for business use:

  1. Is this truly a solution for business? The rapid of adoption of free consumer file sharing services such as Dropbox and iCloud, by business users may have you wondering if the lunatics are running the asylum. But, your instincts are correct if you are wary of unmanaged cloud file storage for business use, if a file sharing solution doesn’t have IT administrative and management tools then it isn’t a business solution.
  2. Am I being locked in? Is the file sharing solution from a company trying to carve out a proprietary niche, forcing you to use certain operating systems, devices, or applications? In the case of Google Drive it is part of Google Apps, but native applications are not available for  iOS devices like the iPad.
  3. How will my information be used? Check the privacy terms carefully. Google must have a plan to make money from Google Drive customers somewhere, somehow, so carefully review Google’s privacy policy and their right to mine your valuable assets to their advantage.
  4. Can I track and view all file activities? If your organization is subject to any type of compliance regulation such as HIPAA, GLBA, SOX then you need to know what’s happening with your organization’s files, otherwise how are you going to demonstrate compliance?
  5. Can I set my own security and privacy standards? For business file sharing, you want to be able to establish customized policies and administrative controls related to file access, security, and storage – as strict or flexible as desired.
  6. What mobile devices and apps are supported? From Androids to iPhones, make sure that files can be synced and accessed via any device.

While “free” is certainly appealing, in the case of file sharing it always comes at a cost. A security breach from business file sharing could mean exposure of confidential financial statements, upcoming product designs, or employee health information, with implications for privacy and compliance violations and fines, lost revenue, loss of competitive advantage and damage to a corporate brand. For confidential business information, using free consumer file storage and sharing can be a costly mistake.

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