IT managers and office managers are turning a blind eye to the fact that their employees are using Dropbox while at work.

For those not familiar with the service it is a cloud-based document and file sharing service that starts with a free 2GB of free storage. You can access the files you store in Dropbox on any internet enabled device that has access to a browser and or an app store.

Now there are in fact 4 versions of Dropbox but the challenge is that not all companies are prepared to pay for the business version of Dropbox that would provide considerably more control and security than the free version for a good reason.

Using the free version at work

Like I mentioned above, many IT managers and office managers seem to be turning a blind eye to the usage of the free version of Dropbox. I believe this is a mistake, but before I explain why, let’s explore why they are using it:

1)    It’s convenient – for many, quickly dropping that spreadsheet in Dropbox and then downloading it at home in order to finish off in the evening is a very simple and easy solution.

2)    The only way – for others, it’s the only way to work from anywhere other than the office. If the company do not provide any other technology that enables them to work on the road or from a hotel, then using a personal Dropbox account is sometimes the only way.

3)    They understand it – many people use Dropbox to backup personal photos and documents so using Dropbox is easy to understand. It then becomes the natural choice to think of when considering sharing files via the cloud when at work.

Sounds like a great service eh? The challenge lies in the security of the system.

You see, the free version of Dropbox is not expected to come with backups, antivirus and detailed user control. The free version was always meant for personal use and not business.

The truth is that it is so easy and its free and the majority do not see the harm in popping some corporate documents into a personal Dropbox account. However, what it actually means is the company information is now outside of the control of IT and therefore anything could happen to it.

We have heard many horror stories of rogue employees exporting client databases and taking them with them.

It’s not just rogue employees; I am sure many loyal staff use Dropbox for convenience. The challenge here is the security of the document.

There are no guarantees with the personal version of Dropbox. The account could become corrupt, compromised or virus infected and then brought back into the company network.

It could equally be accidently shared with others outside of the company and therefore sensitive information leaked. There are no folder level access controls so this can be an easy mistake when sharing family and holiday photos.

When using the free version your documents are not stored in the same locations as the business accounts and you do not get the same level of security. Your vital business documents could be sitting on the same server as some unethical teenagers virus ridden files such as pirated movies and music.

Sensitive data

This is the key challenge. I don’t think any document or file that you wouldn’t want to be seen outside of your company should ever be placed into the free version of Dropbox.


For some industries, this would, in fact, be a breach of compliance as the document is not under complete control there could be multiple versions of the same document floating around the internet.

IT woes

This can be a real headache for IT but is really quite simple to solve. Here are a few suggestions:

1)    Enable remote working for the staff that need to work outside of the office. These staff can then dial in and access corporate data and applications safe and securely.

2)    Use Microsoft SharePoint to manage your file sharing needs safe in the knowledge it is controlled and secure.

3)    Use Microsoft One Drive as part of Office 365 to safely share and store company documents.

4)    Finally, consider the business version of Dropbox which will solve most if not all of these challenges.

Yes, these all cost money, but losing key files or having your company information fall into the wrong hands will cost you far more money and headaches.

Each of the Microsoft solutions above was designed for business and come with all of the security features needed to ensure your documents are safe and secure.

You can block the use of Dropbox at you company but this does not 100% solve the problem as there was a reason why your staff were using it in the first place.

So, if you find your staff are using Dropbox and would like to enable them to work when and where they need to in a safe and secure way give us a call and we can advise on the best way forward.





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