If you are in the early stages of your biotech startup, you are probably looking for affordable and familiar IT tools to improve the way that you do business. With tens of millions of subscribers, Dropbox is one of the most popular consumer file syncing and sharing solutions. Odds are some of your employees are even using it at work.
While Dropbox is a great service for personal use, it has shown time and time again that it cannot compete professionally with subscription-based enterprise solutions. Security breaches, spotty service, and lack of administrative control options are all issues that your you need to be concerned about if employees are using Dropbox to sync or share company files.
File syncing is an amazing convenience, especially in an industry like biotech that is so dependent on data and collaboration. But if you want to use file syncing in a professional capacity, you need to look past Dropbox and find a more stable solution. When shopping around for a new service, make sure to look for the following four features.
1. Impenetrable Security
The risks of file syncing are the same as the benefits. Whenever you store data in the cloud, it becomes both accessible and vulnerable. The file syncing solution you select for your biotech company must be able to provide verifiable levels of data security. In their absence, there is no way to know who has access to proprietary data, financial records, and personal information. Dropbox has shown too many times that it cannot guarantee this level of security.
2. Administrative Controls
Just like any other aspect of your IT infrastructure, it is important that everyone in your company uses your file syncing service in a standardized way. There is no way to ensure total data security and regulatory compliance if your employees can set up their own file syncing accounts and manage them in any way they find convenient. With the right enterprise-wide solution, you can establish broad administrative controls that ensure every user is synching their files according to best practices.
3. Enterprise-Wide Tools
Executives and managers at biotech startups must be able to monitor how file syncing is being used across the entire company. If there is a data breach, this overview can help you identify where it came from and limit the damage. These and other enterprise-wide tools are features of some file syncing services, but not Dropbox. There is simply no way to oversee this important part of your IT infrastructure unless the tools are built into the service.
4. An Updated Firewall
Even if you implement a standardized file syncing service, your employees will be tempted to fall back on their Dropbox account – it’s what they understand, and it’s convenient. That is why it is important to update your firewall so that employees cannot access Dropbox or other personal file syncing services from their work computers. Conversely, you should look for a file syncing service that is easy to use and effective so that your employees are more likely to adopt it. Most companies will offer a free demo or trial, don’t say no.
Your IT partner can help you select a file syncing service that meets your budget and needs, and then help you introduce it to your company. With this kind of advanced planning, you can avoid common hazards and get the most out of your new technology.
To learn more about using technology to get your biotech startup off the ground, consult our white paper “After the Seed: Planning IT Investment for a Biotech Startup.”
If security is a key concern, I suggest taking a look at TeamDrive – http://teamdrive.com – it provides end-to-end encryption, automatic syncing of folders (incl. versioning), cross-platform support (mobile and desktop) and collaboration functionality. Files can be stored in public cloud storage or your own data center.
Since many employees are using Dropbox anyway (whether IT likes it or not!), a good way to go about security is to implement a solution that SECURES documents stored in Dropbox. SafeMonk provides this, while also providing Enterprise features like an admin console which allows for monitoring. Think of it as a private Dropbox for your Enterprise. http://www.safemonk.com
Full disclosure, I work for nCrypted Cloud (www.ncryptedcloud.com) We are a Boston based startup and believe we have addressed the security issues 1, 2 and 3 that Stephen mentions.
On top of the security issues, our User Interface (unlike other providers) dovetails on top of your existing Dropbox account, no need to move your existing Dropbox data, just right click on an existing folder and make it private. In the event of a lost or stolen device, simply revoke access and the lost or stolen data is rendered useless to ANYONE. It can never be opened again. Find the device (or have it returned) simply reauthorize the device.
nCrypted Cloud also has advanced features for Collaboration, both long term and ad-hoc.
nCrypted Cloud also is the only provider (that I know of) that has the concept of MULTIPLE IDENTITIES. Separated employees can have their access to corporate data revoked even though that data is sync’ed on multiple non corporate owned devices (BYOD).
Dropbox for Business (https://www.dropbox.com/business/features) provides many of the features and controls that the article calls for. Over time, I’d imagine the Dropbox’s business solution will evolve to provide even more security and controls.
I’d agree with Marian that since employees are likely already using Dropbox, it’s better to get ahead of the current than fight it.