Inside Office 365 and inside the firewalls, it’s relatively easy to track files. 

But what about content created in Office 365 apps, but stored outside OneDrive for Business? Or what about files beyond the firewall?

Palo Alto, Calif.-based file security vendor Vera claims it has the solution. This week, it launched a new advanced data protection offering for Microsoft Office 365 customers. It's supposed to make it easy to secure and track any file through Office 365, Outlook and OneDrive for Business.

File Shares In Office 365

Vera’s Senior Director of Product Marketing, Grant Shirk, said it was a logical product to develop. With 50 million paid users, Office 365 is one of the fastest growing cloud applications in the enterprise and is quickly becoming the first stop for businesses that are looking for productivity apps.

“When files can be created and stored anywhere, IT and security teams need better solutions to control this data. The reality is that while most enterprise content is created in Office, it’s not stored in OneDrive,“ Shirk said.

He cited a 2014 Ponemon report that found 44 percent of companies do not have the ability to control access to sensitive documents. More and more data being created in and shared through the cloud, and security and control of those files is a top enterprise concern.

While Office 365 provides some basic security reporting on files that are stored in OneDrive for Business or email sent through Microsoft Exchange, Shirk said the reporting stops at the edge of the enterprise.

“Once an attachment is received by a third party or a file is uploaded into Box, Dropbox or even put on a USB drive, visibility is lost," he said.

He claimed the benefit of Vera’s centralized security and policy management is that any file can be tracked wherever it travels. In addition, content owners can update permissions or revoke access instantly, no matter where that file or copies of that file have been stored.

File Sharing Concerns

We have already seen on a number of occasions in the past few months that file sharing is quickly becoming one of the top security concerns in the enterprise as workers use consumer grade file shares instead of overly complicated enterprise file sharing applications.

 CTERA Networks recently released research that showed one in three organizations are leaking data — and file share apps are one of the biggest problems.

“The biggest challenge facing enterprises rolling out Office 365 is the ability to protect and control information the moment it’s created and shared. Any time you ask someone to change the way they work, you risk slowing down adoption and compliance, particularly in security,” Shirk added.

He said Vera's integration eliminates extra steps and allows companies to automatically secure any attachment or upload to the cloud. "Simplicity drives adoption, and adoption increases security,” he added.

Office 365 Security

In a statement outlining the details of the release, Vera CTO Prakash Linga noted that senders typically lose control of files shared through email attachments or links. Vera’s solution has a file recall button that works, he added.

Vera attaches security to the data itself, enabling users to grant and restrict access in real time, no matter where the data resides. It also integrates into Microsoft Active Directory for unified identity and access management controls, ensuring consistent and secure access to information as their departments change.

Because it works seamlessly with Office 365, users can share and securely sync protected files to SharePoint or OneDrive for Business and within the Save and Share menus in Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Office 365 files can also be protected when uploaded to Box and Dropbox. Additionally, users can unsend an email attachment — even if the recipient has the file open — by instantly revoking access from any user, device or cloud storage.

“The biggest challenge for businesses today is controlling information through the last mile. There are a number of options for storing and transmitting enterprise data, but Vera can protect, track and even revoke access after a file has been copied, forwarded or downloaded,” Shirk said.

If for no other reason than the ‘recall’ button, the Office 365 solution is interesting. However, the overall benefit of preventing unauthorized file shares from Office 365 can’t be overestimated, particularly for those organizations that are dragging their heels on cloud deployments because of security concerns.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  Title image by benthecube.