How LA Manufacturers and Distributors Can Be Harmed by Dropbox

Craig Pollack | Apr 21, 2016

How LA Manufacturers and Distributors Can Be Harmed by Dropbox

With so much information to share, file sharing services such as Dropbox have become incredibly popular for sending photos, large attachments and multiple documents to friends and family when text message or email just won’t suffice. Dropbox is quick, easy and incredibly efficient and allows you to share data with whomever you choose.  And free of charge to boot!

Sounds great.  But, what happens when a Los Angeles based manufacturer or distributor attempts to use the same file-sharing technology to share invoices and inventory information or purchase orders or video files? For some, Dropbox is the go-to hosting service as their owners and IT specialists have become accustomed to using the program in their own, personal day-to-day lives.

However, it may be time to stop and think about the danger that you’re exposing your business and your customers to. Among many questions, the first one you need to ask yourself is…

Is Dropbox as secure as you need it to be?

There’s an easy answer to that question: no. As ideal as it is for sharing files with contacts, friends and family members, the truth is Dropbox was never designed to be used by businesses – particularly those handling as much sensitive data as you no doubt do. For this reason, the security protocols that you’d normally rely on, as well as the checks you’d usually put in place, are absent – a scary thought if you’re attempting to share an proprietary information such as your customer list.

The truth is that just about any device with Dropbox installed on is capable of “leaking” access to your data, whether they’re trying to hack you maliciously or not.  And the lack of encryption capabilities means that they’d see your information as it was written, rather than in a password-protected or in a scrambled format.

It won’t protect you against data theft

The bigger transporation and shipping companies, distribution services and manufacturers, as well as their lesser-known competitors, are frequently under attack by data thieves. When you take a moment to think about it, there’s an awful lot of valuable information contained within your computer system, its networks and many backups you’ve hopefully made -  including payment details, contact information, and supplier details.

Unfortunately for Dropbox, a recent security breach has proven how unprepared the service is for such an attack.  Some seven million user email addresses were accessed, putting their other social media logins and services at risk. Now, imagine that you’d been using Dropbox to share huge amounts of sensitive company information and you can begin to see why there’s an issue here.

It’s not as watertight as you’d hope

Dropbox doesn’t send original documents to those you’re communicating with, but it does synchronize your account with theirs to create ‘local’ copies that are then accessible from their machine. So, what would happen if the person you’ve shared that information with were to access an unsecured wireless network on their laptop, or leave the warehouse computer unattended and in full view of anyone? Or, what if their laptop (with your information on it) disappears?  With Dropbox, your data could quite easily fall into the wrong hands without anything going wrong during the file transfer – the files have now leaked out of your control, and there’s nothing you can do to retrieve them, aside from contacting every single one of your clients or suppliers to pass on the memo, which is hardly professional let alone possible!

These are but a few of the major issues that manufacturers and distributors may come across while using Dropbox. Others include the inability to audit when a document was created, edited or deleted, and a complete lack of compliance when it comes to following your company’s security protocols.

If you’re currently using Dropbox, it’s time to think again – any compliance officer will be able to guide you in the right direction, so be sure to ask.  There are a number of file sharing services out there that have been designed and meant to be used at the enterprise level that you and your business need.  One of the most popular of these is ShareFile by Citrix.

What file sharing platform does your business use? Do you find that you’re more at ease sharing files now? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the Comments section below.

If you own or manage a distribution or manufacturing company in Los Angeles, and you’re looking to stay up to date on the latest technology, be sure to download your free guide, How COOs at Los Angeles Distributors and Manufacturers Get More Done: A Guide to Productivity, Data, Staffing, Delegation, and Making It Home for Dinner Most Nights.


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Craig Pollack

Craig Pollack

Craig is the Founder & CEO of FPA Technology Services, Inc. Craig provides the strategy and direction for FPA, ensuring its clients, business owners, and key decision makers leverage technology as efficiently and effectively as possible. With over 25 years of experience building the preeminent IT Service Provider in the Southern California area, Craig is one of the area’s leading authorities on how small to mid-sized businesses can best secure and leverage their technology to achieve their business objectives.