Dangers and risks of file sharing
Exchanging files via the Internet is very convenient, but it is not entirely risk-free: many files are offered and copied without any control over the various file sharing networks and services. Before receiving a file, users usually only have some meta information available such as the file name or the length of a file (video/audio) and have to blindly trust that it is indeed the advertised content.
As a result, users of file sharing services are particularly exposed to the risk of malware and other harmful software, downloaded instead of the desired file or in addition to it. The more anonymous the exchange, the more cautious you need to be. This also applies in terms of copyright, because when you download files from an unknown source there is always the risk of unknowingly receiving content whose distribution via file sharing is illegal.
Another danger: with file sharing methods such as the P2P network, it can happen that data is shared very quickly on the network which is actually of a private nature, not intended for other users. While in most cases this is due to misconfiguration of the client, it still happens faster than one would like.
How can data be shared securely?
Large file sharing networks and downloading content from anonymous sources are highly risky. However, if you still intend to share data with other users, there are solutions that offer high security standards.
File sharing via email
Small documents such as text files, images or PDFs can be exchanged very securely via email. The big advantage is that the sender of the content can be clearly identified by means of the e-mail address. If you also use SSL/TLS e-mail encryption, you can protect yourself against the risk of interception or tampering when sharing files, whether with Outlook, Gmail or Thunderbird.
File sharing via cloud storage
Cloud storage systems such as the classic Dropbox or alternatives to Dropbox such as Box or Google Drive are becoming increasingly popular as solutions for secure file storage and exchange. Data protection and security play an important role for the providers of these services and that is why they regularly offer measures such as encryption, regular backups and powerful protection against malware. Through user profiles and shareable links, users determine who can upload and download data.
File sharing via browser
Browser-based file sharing doesn't seem like the most secure method of sharing data at first glance. However, the security standards of these services have increased significantly in recent years. With solutions such as WeTransfer, HiDrive Share or Terashare, it is possible to upload files of up to two or even ten gigabytes in size, simply by sharing the download link with the recipient. Here too, however, a problem already mentioned arises: if the user who uploaded the file is not known, downloading always involves a certain risk.
File sharing via VPN
Virtual private networks (or VPNs) not only provide the perfect foundation for accessing private networks such as corporate networks in remote working or smart working situations, but are also suitable for secure file sharing. Only authorized users can access shared files in VPN networks. This type of file sharing is especially recommended for companies that work with highly sensitive documents.
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