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The Role of Automated File Unsharing in Preventing Data Breaches

By Patronum

October 09, 2023

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Sharing files on services like Google Drive comes with inherent risks – what if you share sensitive data with the wrong person? While mistakes happen, leaving files open to unwanted access can lead to catastrophic data breaches. This is where automated file unsharing solutions come in handy. In this article, we’ll explore how automated unsharing helps control file sharing and prevent data leaks.

An Introduction to Automated File Unsharing

Automated file unsharing refers to software that can automatically revoke or disable file access when certain conditions are met. For example, you could set up a system to remove collaborator access to files after a set time period, like 30 days. Or files could become inaccessible when an employee leaves the company.

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The goal is to take the manual work out of closing down file access. Instead of remembering to unshare files, access gets removed automatically based on triggers you set up. This prevents situations where sensitive data is left open to unauthorized viewers.

Key Benefits of Automated Unsharing

Automated file unsharing brings some major advantages when trying to lock down data access:

  • Prevents accidental oversharing – With manual sharing, it’s easy to grant broader access than intended. Automated unsharing revokes access after a set time period, keeping the sharing window small.
  • Removes access for former employees – When people leave a company, you want to cut off their account access. Automated unsharing can instantly remove their ability to view files.
  • Limits exposure of sensitive data – Certain files like financial data or customer info should only be visible to select people. Automated unsharing reduces the risk of it falling into the wrong hands.
  • Saves time over manual unsharing – IT staff would waste countless hours tracking down and removing access one file at a time. Automation handles it instantly across all files.
  • Increases data security – By proactively removing file access, businesses see fewer data leaks and breaches related to oversharing.

Implementing Automated File Unsharing

To leverage the power of automated file unsharing, you need the right software solution. Here are some options:

  • Cloud storage platform native tools – Some services like Google Drive include basic time-based unsharing tools natively. But the options are limited.
  • Third-party unsharing apps – Apps (like Patronum) for Google Drive provide more advanced unsharing functionality like user group management and audit logs.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) systems – DLP tools focus on detecting sensitive data and can tie into unsharing workflows to cut off access automatically.
  • Identity and access management (IAM) tools – IAM provides user lifecycle management, letting you trigger unsharing when employees are terminated.
  • Use Patronum: The Google Workspace Manager – Patronum is a dedicated third-party automated file unsharing solution that integrates seamlessly with Google Drive. It provides granular control over unsharing workflows, allowing you to set automated triggers based on time, user group membership, file sensitivity, and more. Patronum generates detailed audit logs so you can monitor unsharing events and ensure files are secured. With Patronum, you get robust and customizable automated unsharing specific to your use cases that outperforms Google Drive’s native tools.

The best approach is to use a dedicated unsharing app that integrates with your cloud storage platform. This gives you the most robust options while minimizing complexity.

Real-World Examples of Automated File Unsharing

To understand the power of automated unsharing, let’s look at some real-world examples:

Revoking contractor access – A contractor works with a company for 2 months on a project. After the project ends, the contractor should not have ongoing access to internal files. An automated unsharing tool can remove their access after 60 days automatically.

Cutting off ex-employee access – When an employee leaves, their account is disabled, but they still have access to any files previously shared with them. Automated unsharing can instantly revoke the access of the ex-employee.

Temporary project file sharing – A cross-functional team needs to collaborate on a project for a few weeks using a shared folder. Automated unsharing can close the folder off when the project ends.

Limiting consumer data exposure – A customer service agent needs temporary access to customer data to resolve a ticket. Automated unsharing closes the access after the ticket is handled to limit data exposure.

Key Takeaways on Automated File Unsharing

Here are some key points to remember about automated file unsharing:

  • It revokes file access automatically based on triggers like time, user status, etc.
  • It prevents oversharing and reduces data exposure from former employees or partners.
  • Native cloud storage unsharing tools have limitations – third-party solutions are ideal.
  • Automated unsharing integrates with workflows like user lifecycle management.
  • It saves IT time by removing the need to manually police file sharing.
  • Implementing automated unsharing boosts data security and prevents leakage.

Carefully controlling file access is crucial for security. Automated unsharing solutions make it easy to implement data access best practices. Revoking access systematically eliminates mistakes and oversights that can lead to damaging data breaches.

FAQ’s About Automated File Unsharing

Q: What are the main benefits of automated file unsharing?

The main benefits are preventing accidental oversharing, removing access for former employees instantly, limiting exposure of sensitive data, saving IT time over manual unsharing, and boosting overall data security.

Q: Does Google Drive have automated unsharing features?

Google Drive has basic time-based unsharing features natively. But for more advanced functionality, third-party solutions like AutoUnshare for Google Drive are recommended.

Q: When should you trigger automated file unsharing?

Common triggers include set time periods expiring, users leaving the company, project collaboration ending, and temporary access for contractors/customers no longer being needed.

Q: Can automated unsharing integrate with employee status changes?

Yes, automated unsharing can tie into HR systems and identity management to revoke access when employees are terminated or change roles.

Q: How does automated unsharing improve data security?

It improves security by proactively removing access instead of relying on manual efforts. This prevents oversights, mistakes, and unauthorized data access, reducing breaches.

Sharing files like those on Google Drive comes with inherent security risks if collaborators retain access longer than necessary. Automated file unsharing solutions address this problem by systematically revoking file permissions based on triggers like time limits, employee departures, or project completion.

Implementing automated unsharing improves data security by preventing oversharing, instantly removing ex-employee access, limiting exposure of sensitive data, and saving IT time. With air-tight control over file permissions, companies can reduce data leakage and breaches.

Carefully evaluating solutions like native cloud unsharing tools, third-party unsharing apps, and integration with identity management systems allows organizations to leverage automated unsharing for their unique needs. Removing the human element from file access control is the key to robust data protection.

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