While the top cloud storage services go to great lengths to protect your files from loss and your account from hackers, you still have some responsibility.
Follow these tips to ensure that your files are safe and readily accessible whenever you need them.
Keep your computer and devices updated
Stay current with the latest operating system version available for your computer and mobile devices. Older OS versions tend to contain security vulnerabilities.
Create a strong password
Establish a strong password for both your PC and your cloud storage account, e.g., use combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use a short password or one that’s easy to guess. Also, never share your password or send it to yourself in an email. To keep track of long, complex passwords, consider a password management app that you can access from your PC, browser, and phone.
Use Microsoft Defender
While most cloud storage services scan for viruses on upload, you should also keep your local copies of those files clean. For PC owners running Windows 10, there’s no need to pay for an anti-virus service when you have Microsoft Defender Antivirus built into your machine. This software gives you comprehensive, ongoing, and real-time protection against software threats like viruses, malware, and spyware across email, apps, the cloud, and the web.
Encrypt your hard drive
Most work laptops use BitLocker to encrypt local files. That way, if the computer is stolen or hacked, the data it contains will be useless to the malicious actor. If you have a work laptop, it’s a great idea to enable encryption on it.
Encrypt your mobile device
If you use a cloud storage mobile app, be sure to enable encryption on your iOS or Android device. This measure protects your local files if your mobile device is lost, stolen, or subjected to unauthorized access.
Add security information to your cloud storage account
Your cloud storage provider usually offers security controls that enable you to access your account if you forget your password. These include storing your phone number, providing an alternate email address, and a security question/answer pair. Take advantage of these functions. It will make it easier to regain access to your account. Or, if your account gets hacked, the cloud storage provider can use your security information to verify your identity and restore access to your account.
Use two-factor verification (2FA)
This additional level of security, aka multi-factor authentication MFA, protects your account by requiring you to enter a security code, a physical USB authentication key or your fingerprint whenever you attempt to log in from an untrusted device. A hacker might try to impersonate you if they can steal your username and password. It’s usually much harder for them to get past your second authentication factor, especially if you don’t use easy-to-guess words like your pet’s name.
Choose a cloud service that uses encryption
Most cloud services encrypt your files at rest and in-transit. Be sure that your provider offers these services. Often, the provider itself holds the encryption keys, meaning they can access your data. However, the top providers maintain strong internal controls that prevent employees from accessing those keys or your files.
Ransomware is a form of cyberattack that involves criminals encrypting your documents, your entire drive or your company’s entire network of servers. You are then locked out of all your files and apps until you pay a ransom, usually in a cryptocurrency. Check to see if your provider offers ransomware detection and recovery. If they do, you can have peace of mind knowing that all of your cloud files and your local files synced to the cloud are safe in the event of an attack.
Is your cloud provider scanning your files, photos and content to target ads at you? Are they selling your information to third parties? It’s worth checking into what a cloud provider might have the right to do with your private files. If you value privacy, consider choosing a service that does not sell your data to third parties, does not share your data without permission, and does not scan your photos, files or personal content to target ads to you.
It is possible to keep your files highly safe in the cloud. Indeed, most cloud storage providers have extensive security measures in place.
You still bear some responsibility for cloud storage security, however. First, it’s essential to select a storage provider with the right mix of security controls in place. Then, it’s up to you to engage in vigorous security practices yourself, such as using strong passwords.
You’re safe, so go for it! If you’re not using cloud storage, this may a good time to start.
About the author
Paul Diamond is the Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft OneDrive (consumer and small business). He has worked in marketing and eCommerce for Amazon, T-Mobile, Groupon and Vistage International. He’s also the editor of the books: Fishing’s Greatest Misadventures, Surfing’s Greatest Misadventures, and Cycling’s Greatest Misadventures published by Casagrande Press.
Learn how to encrypt files and sign them using GoAnywhere’s Open PGP encryption software with this tutorial. Store sensitive information or transmit across insecure networks securely with Open PGP.
In this tutorial, you will learn how to use GoAnywhere’s Open PGP encryption software to encrypt files and sign them.
Open PGP’s file encryption tool enables you to both store sensitive information and transmit that information across insecure networks, such as the internet or email, so that it cannot be read by anyone except the intended recipient.
A public key is used to encrypt a file and verify a signature. A private key is used by the owner to decrypt and to add a digital signature to files.
Encrypting Files with Open PGP
How to encrypt files with Open PGP:
- Get your trading partner’s public key to encrypt the file.
- Import your trading partner’s public key into a Key Vault.
- Use your file transfer tool to create a Project to encrypt the file.
- Sign the file with your private key if required.
- Confirm that the project was set up correctly before executing.
Continue reading the full tutorial below for more details.
PGP Key Management
Create, import, and export PGP keys through the GoAnywhere Key Management System. Keys are protected and organized into Key Vaults for security access controls. Access the Key Management System through the Encryption drop-down menu.
Protecting a File with PGP Encryption
To get started, let’s encrypt a file that we can send to our trading partner. You will need your trading partner’s public key to encrypt the file. Your trading partner will use their private key to decrypt the file once it is received.
- If you have not done so already, import your trading partner’s public key into a Key Vault.
- Then, create a new Project and add the PGP Encrypt task to the Project Outline.
- On the PGP Encrypt task, select Key Vault for the Key Location and select the appropriate Vault Name from the drop down menu.
- Next, enter the Input File location which can be a local file on the GoAnywhere server, a UNC path, an NFS mount, or an SMB/CIFS network server. You will also need to enter the Output File location for the encrypted file. Typically the file extension will end with “.pgp”.
- While still on the PGP Encrypt task, click on the Add a Public Key option. For the Key Name field, click on the drop-down arrow and select the public key for your trading partner.
Now you have a Project that can be used to encrypt a file to be sent to your trading partner.
Signing a File
Digital signatures allow your trading partner to ensure that you are the true originator of the files. You only need to sign a file if your trading partner requires that you sign your files with your private key. This will embed a digital signature into those files, and your trading partner will use your public key to authenticate your identity when decrypting the files.
- To add a signature, expand the Secret Key panel and select the Add a Secret Key option.
- On the Key Name field, select your private key and enter the Password of the key. If you do not have a private key, you can create one in the Key Vault.
Executing the Project
- Save the Project,
- Validate all fields are configured properly (also known as compiling), and
- Begin Project execution.
Once complete, you will see messages indicating that the Job completed successfully along with a link to view the Job Log. You can now share that file with your trading partner using FTP, SFTP, email, or another method. You can review the Job Log for more information on what took place.
Not using GoAnywhere MFT yet? Start a free trial and test it out for 30 days.
In this blog, we will explore how can we encrypt and decrypt files using GPG.
GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) is a free encryption software which is compliant with OpenPGP Standard.
We will learn how to use PGP encryption to send encrypted messages to anyone.
How to do the setup
- Download software from here
- Click on the exe file, install it with all default settings
- Generate the keypair
Once installation is complete, below screen will come
Click on New Key Pair — you can provide any random values.
Provide the passphrase which will be used later to import or decrypt any file.
Store the keypair on your machine by selecting an option “Make a Backup of your keypair”. This will store two files, one is private key and one is public key.
Private key must not be shared by anyone else. Public Key can be shared with anyone so that they can share the secrets in an encrypted form.
How to share secrets
Now we will see how we can share the secrets with anyone. For ex- My colleague ask me for the database password then how can I share it in a secure way
- Import the public key of the user
Click on Import — select the public key of the user which he has provided. It is recommended that we share the public key as an attachment.
Finally, you will see the pop up message “Import is completed successfully”
2. Copy the secrets
Open notepad- copy the secret — click on tools -> clipboard-> encrypted -> Add recipient ( select user)
Copy the encrypted message to your notepad and share it with the user.
How to open the encrypted text
Now we will see how we can open the encrypted text send by anyone
- Provide your public to the user. User has to import your public key
- User will share the encrypted message
- Open Kelopatra — Click notepad — paste the encrypted message-> click on Decrypt/verify as highlighted below
This will prompt for the passkey and after that you should be able to see the decrypted text
Congratulations, you have successfully explore how can we encrypt and decrypt files using GPG.
OneDrive is natively integrated into Windows, and it only makes sense the data is encrypted and secure. While Encryption makes sure the files are not accessible if the device is lost, Security offers account-level protection, which makes breach difficult and recovery easy for the owner of the account. In this post, we look at the ways to encrypt and secure OneDrive Files.
Topics discussed in this post:
- Encrypt OneDrive Files
- Enable encryption on your mobile devices
- Microsoft 365 Advanced Protection
- Protect files in Personal Vault
- Password-protected links
- Ransomware detection & recovery
- Data Encryption in OneDrive for Business
- Encrypting OneDrive files for security
- Create a strong password
- Use two-factor verification
- Add security info to your Microsoft account
How to Encrypt OneDrive Files
There are two ways to encrypt OneDrive Files. Frist is the native method that can be done through the phone, and the second is to use the Microsoft 365 Advanced Protection.
1] Enable encryption on your mobile devices
Both iOS and Android offer device encryption. If you search it in your settings, you should be able to find it. Once done, the phone can be opened only through the fingerprint, PIN, or Pattern.
2] Microsoft 365 Advanced Protection
1] Protect files in Personal Vault
Personal Vault is a secure area in OneDrive which is password protected. It can be used to safeguard any file which you add here. The best part of this feature is that it will automatically lock if it is not used for a period of time. You can also add an unlimited number of files in Personal Vault. I would suggest that if you have too much sensitive data, always use this feature.
2] Password-protected links
One of the biggest issues with hearing files using a link is that anybody with a link can be accessed. If you cannot add an account to the file you want to share, the right way to share a file will be using a password. The option is available under Link settings, where you can also add the expiry date for the shared file. Both of these methods are the right way to share files.
3] Ransomware detection & recovery
If your PC gets infected file include those on OneDrive, Microsoft office 365 will notify you about it. It will make sure the files on the cloud can be recovered once you confirm that the files are infected. Since OneDrive offers versioning, it is possible to restore the files easily. However, make sure that the malware or ransomware is not available anymore on the PC.
4] Data Encryption in OneDrive for Business & Sharepoint
Here you get two additional security—in-transit and at-rest encryption side of data security. When at rest, the account gets BitLocker disk-level encryption and per-file encryption of customer content. While the former locks the drive, the latter adds a unique encryption key to each file.
Since the files are stored in the cloud, it doesn’t matter where it is, any reconstruction file, when the requested process has to go through three physical storage components—the blob store, the Content Database, and the Key Store. With all three, the data will be useless. Read more about it here.
5] Encrypting OneDrive files for security
There are many third-party programs available to encrypt entire hard drives or on a file-to-file basis. The Windows Club has a list of some of the best free file encryption software. You can use these programs to encrypt the entire OneDrive folders on your local computer so that when they are uploaded, they are encrypted – or you can encrypt only the ones containing sensitive information. You may also use Windows default BitLocker or NTFS encryption to encrypt the files.
2] How to Secure OneDrive Account
There are three ways to secure OneDrive Account. It will make sure the account is difficult to hack, and with additional information, you can recover if there is a breach.
1] Create a strong password
It goes without saying that not just a OneDrive account, but any account should have a strong password. There are strong password generators within the browser that you can use with your account.
2] Enable two-factor verification
Similar to a strong password, it is important to enabling two-factor authentication. Every time you log in, you will have to authenticate it using a code generated by secure apps such as Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator.
3] Add security info to your Microsoft account
Make sure you have included enough information in your account, including recovery email id and phone number. This will help you get back the account if it is hacked or forgotten the password.
OneDrive Personal and OneDrive for Business both offer security features to files and accounts. It is important that we also enable certain features that have to be enabled by the end-user, such as 2FA, Personal Vault, and more. Those using OneDrive for business already have a secure environment but make sure the PC and account are protected.
This post has been updated in July 2021.
Date: July 1, 2021 Tags: OneDrive
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Ashish is a veteran Windows, and Xbox user who excels in writing tips, tricks, and features on it to improve your day to day experience with your devices.
File encryption is commonplace these days. You can encrypt files in many ways with a lot of different tools. One way to do this is through an open-source encryption system called Pretty Good Privacy. PGP has been around a long time, and we can encrypt just about any form of data by using it. For now, we’re going to focus on encryption files using PGP and PowerShell.
To encrypt and decrypt files on Windows with PGP, we must download the GNU Privacy Guard for Windows utility. This free, open-source utility uses the OpenPGP Standard to bring PGP to Windows. We first need to download and install this.
We could go out to the website and do this manually, but we’re using PowerShell! Let’s stick to the command line. We could also figure out how to build a PowerShell tool around GnuPG for Windows ourselves, but why do that when a community module already exists?
Let’s save some time; downloading a PowerShell module from GitHub will expedite this process dramatically. To do that, I’ll reach out to GitHub and download a module called GnuPG and place it in a module path on my system.
Once I download the module, I can see I’ve got a few commands available to me.
Commands in the GnuPG PowerShell module
One of those commands is Install-GnuPG. Let’s run that and see what happens.
This command went out to the GnuPG website, downloaded the installer, and then silently installed it. That saved some time!
Next, I need to encrypt a bunch of important files in a folder with a password only a few other people and I know. To do that, I can use the Add-Encryption command that comes with this module by simply using the Add-Encryption command specifying the folder of files I’d like to encrypt as well as the password I’d like use to secure them.
You can see below that I have a folder with a single file in it. I’m using the Add-Encryption command, which calls the GnuPG utility under the covers to encrypt this file using the password I’m specifying. It returns a GPG file that is the contents of the file encrypted. At this point, I could just remove the original file if I desired.
Encrypting a file with PowerShell
Now that the file is encrypted in the GPG file, it can’t be read unless decrypted. This GnuPG utility processes the file by first decrypting it, then creating a file of the same name with the unencrypted contents.
You can see below that I’m using the Remove-Encryption command and passing the path of the folder and the secret. The GnuPG utility is creating a keyring if it doesn’t exist yet, decrypting the file, and the Remove-Encryption function is returning the path to the folder that I passed in.
We can now read that original file like normal!
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By using the GnuPG utility along with the GnuPG PowerShell module, we can quickly create a handy little tool that can apply encryption to any number of files on the fly. This is an excellent solution for times when you don’t need anything fancy but need a quick way to encrypt files securely with a password.
Encryption helps protect your files during inter-host file transfers that use protocols that are not already encrypted—for example, when using bbftp or ftp , or when using shiftc without the –secure option. We recommend using the GNU Privacy Guard (GPG), an Open Source OpenPGP-compatible encryption system.
GPG has been installed on Pleiades, Endeavour, and Lou in the /usr/bin/gpg directory. If you do not have GPG installed on the system(s) that you would like to use for transferring files, please see the GPG website.
Choosing What Cipher to Use
We recommend using the cipher AES256, which uses a 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) key to encrypt the data. Information on AES can be found at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Computer Security Resource Center.
You can set your cipher in one of the following ways:
Add –cipher-algo AES256 to your
If you choose not to add the cipher-algo AES256 to your gpg.conf file, you can add –cipher-algo AES256 on any of these simple example command lines to override the default cipher, CAST5.
Creating an Encrypted File
Both commands below are identical. They encrypt the test.out file and produce the encrypted version in the test.gpg file:
You will be prompted for a passphrase, which will be used later to decrypt the file.
Decrypting a File
The following command decrypts the test.gpg file and produces the test.out file:
You will be prompted for the passphrase that you used to encrypt the file. If you don’t use the –output option, the command output goes to STDOUT. If you don’t use any flags, it will decrypt to a file without the .gpg suffix. For example, using the following command line would result in the decrypted data in a file named “test”:
Selecting a Passphrase
Your passphrase should have sufficient information entropy. We suggest that you include five words of 5-10 letters in size, chosen at random, with spaces, special characters, and/or numbers embedded into the words.
You need to be able to recall the passphrase that was used to encrypt the file.
Factors that Affect Encrypt/Decrypt Speed on NAS Filesystems
We do not recommend using the –armour option for encrypting files that will be transferred to/from NAS systems. This option is mainly intended for sending binary data through email, not via transfer commands such as bbftp or ftp . The file size tends to be about 33% bigger than without this option, and encrypting the data takes about 10-15% longer.
The level of compression used when encrypting/decrypting affects the time required to complete the operation. There are three options for the compression algorithm: none , zip , and zlib .
- –compress-algo none or –compress-algo 0
- –compress-algo zip or –compress-algo 1
- –compress-algo zlib or –compress-algo 2
If your data is not compressible, –compress-algo 0 ( none ) gives you a performance increase of about 50% compared to –compress-algo 1 or –compress-algo 2 .
If your data is highly compressible, choosing the zlib or zip option will not only increase the speed by 20-50%, it will also reduce the file size by up to 20x. For example, in one test on a NAS system, a 517 megabyte (MB) highly compressible file was compressed to 30 MB.
The zlib option is not compatible with PGP 6.x, but neither is the cipher algorithm AES256. Using the zlib option is about 10% faster than using the zip option on a NAS system, and zlib compresses about 10% better than zip .
Random Benchmark Data
We tested the encryption/decryption speed of three different files (1 MB, 150 MB, and 517 MB) on NAS systems. The file used for the 1 MB test was an RPM file, presumably already compressed, since the resulting file sizes for the none/zip/zlib options were within 1% of each other. The 150 MB file was an ISO file, also assumed to be a compressed binary file for the same reasons. The 517 MB file was a text file. These runs were performed on a CXFS filesystem when many other users’ jobs were running. The performance reported here is for reference only, and not the best or worst performance you can expect.
Encrypt and send files and notes with a link that automatically destruct after being read. SafeNote is a free web-based service that allows you to share a note or a file with confidentiality. There is no way to spying on you even to a hacker.
Create new private message
This is a free online service – the only way that you can show is by sharing us on
Use safenote whenever you share your personal and sensitive information via the internet
Safenote is the free, fast, and secure way to share files and notes with end-to-end encryption and a link that expires automatically. And also it’s a free cloud-based service that is functioning via an encrypted SSL tunnel. Safenote doesn’t require you to create an account before start using the service and no password or email required. This free service enables you to send a self-destructing message or file to someone. This means once they view the message or download the file, they will no longer be able to access it again after the view count has reached zero. This ensures your message is read by no one but the reader and all evidence of the message is erased. Messages are also anonymous unless you add any identifiable information to your message. If you share your passwords or private, sensitive data via email or chat, copies of that data are stored in a number of locations. If you use Safenote instead, the data stays for a single viewing, which ensures that someone else can’t read it later. It allows you to send sensitive information in a secure manner, ensuring that only one person can see it.
Upload File is a completely free file sharing service that allows you to share files with end-to-end encryption via a self-destructing link.
Secure Link allows you to share encrypted links which redirect to the destination and the link that will self-destruct after being redirected.
Secure Email allows you to send emails with attachments and end-to-end encryption via a link that will self-destruct after being read.
Why short-term: You don’t have to leave important information outside forever. Why let the files you send hang around forever in the cloud? We share links self-destruct as soon as your file is downloaded and we make sure your stuff doesn’t stay forever.
Send files: Safenote file upload lets you send files simply, securely and quickly to multiple destinations. Unlike other common free spaces, we focus on short-term file sharing that can be auto-destroyed. After the file was downloaded by the other party, Safenote immediately deleted the file and restricted the download link.
Send passwords: Quickly send passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information safely. Your data is encrypted and can only be decrypted when viewed using your private link. Keep your passwords safe even if someone’s email is hacked or their smartphone is stolen.
Access from anywhere: Away from your personal computer? You can send files from anywhere via our website only thing you need is a web browser that connects to the internet. There you can also access all of your links, and destroy them if you need to.
Send encrypted secrets: Keep confidential data out of your email and slack logs. With Safenote you can send passwords and secrets with encryption. We can’t read your secrets, not even filenames. It’s encrypted when you send a secret and only the permitted person can access it. It’ll be much safer with the manual password.
Keep secrets out of Slack: You often need to share passwords, tokens, and certificates around the team. We know it’s rare, but sometimes these end up on Slack or email. Who knows where your sensitive data ends up, waiting for the next breach? With end-to-end encryption, you can be confident that even in a data breach, your secrets will be safe.
When your laptop is lost or stolen, you aren’t just out $800 (or more). Your personal information is also accessible to whoever takes it, even if you have a password.
“Unfortunately, a typical password-protected user account does nothing to protect your data,” says Dennis Stewart, a security engineer at CipherTechs. “While the password will prevent someone else from logging into your computer, an attacker can still use other methods to copy files off.” If thieves remove the hard drive and put it into another computer, they have access to any files you have stored on it. In some cases, they can even reset the password on your PC and gain access to your email, passwords and other personal information.
Thankfully, you can protect your data against both of these types of attacks with encryption. “Encryption is a mathematical process used to jumble up data. If important files or whole devices are encrypted, there is no way to make sense of them without the key,” Mr. Stewart said. That means if thieves try to access your information, they’ll find only a jumbled mess unless they have your password, and they won’t be able to simply reset that password if the device is encrypted.
Encrypting your hard drive isn’t some super-technical process that only security experts can perform, either — anyone can do it on his or her computer at home, and it should take only a few minutes to get up and running.
How to Encrypt Your Hard Drive
If you have a Windows laptop, you have a few options. Some Windows 10 devices come with encryption turned on by default, and you can check this by going to Settings > System > About and scrolling down to “Device Encryption.” You’ll need to log into Windows with a Microsoft account in order for this feature to work, but if your laptop offers it, it’s an easy and free way to protect your data.
If your laptop doesn’t support Device Encryption, you can use Windows’ other built-in encryption tool: BitLocker. BitLocker is available only on Professional versions of Windows and above (a $99 upgrade for Home edition users), but it’s incredibly easy to set up. Just head to Windows’ Control Panel > System and Security > Manage BitLocker. Select your operating system drive and click the “Turn On BitLocker” button, following the prompts to create a password that will function as your encryption key. Be sure to store your BitLocker key in a safe place — somewhere not on that computer — in case something goes wrong!
If neither of those is an option, a free program called VeraCrypt can encrypt your entire hard drive, requiring your password when you boot your computer. It’s not quite as simple, straightforward and built-in as Windows’ Device Encryption and BitLocker, but if it’s your only option, it’s worth looking into.
Mac laptops are much more straightforward: All modern Macs (since about 2003) have a feature called FileVault that encrypts your entire system drive. Just open your Mac’s System Preferences, head to Security & Privacy and select the FileVault tab. Click the “Turn On FileVault” button to create a password and begin the encryption process. Store your key in a safe place (not on that computer) in case you ever get locked out.
Thankfully, modern iPhones and Android phones will automatically encrypt your data as long as you use a PIN or password, so you need to worry about enabling the feature only on your desktop and laptop computers. If you have an Android phone with an SD card, however, you can enable encryption for the SD card manually from the Lock Screen and Security settings.
Don’t Forget Your Password
There is one catch to encryption: Your password is much, much more important to remember. Data may be protected from intruders, but it’s also impossible for you to access should you forget your password or recovery key. “If a user forgets or loses their key, they’re out of luck,” says Mr. Stewart. “If a bad actor can’t get at your data without the key, you can’t, either.” Some businesses may grant IT departments a master key, but not all do, and this can’t be done retroactively.
So if you’re the type of person who forgets passwords often, it’s incredibly important you write it down — along with the recovery key you were given when you performed the above steps — and keep it in a safe place. Don’t keep it on the computer you encrypted and don’t keep it out in plain sight — put it in a physical safe that only you can access. And no matter what, always keep a good backup of your data, either on another hard drive (which you should also encrypt) or with a cloud service like Backblaze that keeps your data secure.
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Access and share all your files and documents in a few simple clicks. Limitless storage, a convenient email plugin and the ability to send large files—without clogging email—help accelerate productivity. Plus, bank-level encryption capabilities protect emails in transit and at rest.
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Skip the messy data migration and get secure access to files and folders stored on legacy data systems, with 3rd party servicers or anywhere else. ShareFile gives users a single, secure point of access to all data, regardless of environment or endpoint.
Streamline collaboration with customizable workflows and a powerful Office 365 integration.
Automate getting approvals, feedback and any document-centric processes with customizable workflows that you control directly from your ShareFile account. Our Office 365 integration allows for real-time co-editing and versioning.
Gold Star Security
Third-party validated application and datacenter controls from SOC 2 and SSAE 16 audits. Bank-level encryption in transit and at rest. Two-factor authentication and single sign-on for added security.
Encrypt Your Emails
The ShareFile plugin for Microsoft Outlook can easily encrypt email messages and automatically converts any attachments to secure ShareFile links.
Other Major Features
Legally Binding E-Signatures
Cut your admin time by up to 93% with our secure solution to get your documents signed in minutes (not days).
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Our convenient Office 365 integration makes it possible – even when teams and clients are miles apart.
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You’ve migrated your user data to SharePoint and OneDrive but you’re still left with file servers and file data on-premises. With the announcement of Active Directory Authentication for Azure Files, you can now do away with the server entirely and use the cloud to replicate your file servers’ functionality entirely.
We’ve previously talked about migrating files to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Even if you’ve done this, you will no doubt have a reason for a file server still. If cloud is your goal, why not replace your file server with Azure Files?
You get all the same capabilities as you do with an on-premises file server but the benefits of a Platform-as-a-Service solution that doesn’t require servers.
In our previous post about migrating file servers to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, we primarily focused on user generated content: migrating home drives to OneDrive, migrating folders of team files to SharePoint Online to improve collaboration.
Following the traditional 80/20 rule, this will probably transfer 80% of your file server content to Microsoft 365 but what about the remaining 20%? Do you want to continue to run on-premises servers to provide file services for 20%? Is keeping that remaining 20% highly available and resilient to server failure or data loss going to be too expensive?
What is Azure Files?
Azure Files as a feature has been available in Azure Storage for some time. Using Azure Files, you can present clients with a Server Message Block (SMB) file share that you can use to transfer files in a familiar way to act like a file server with Azure Files, however, Azure Files alone can’t fully replicate the experience.
Using Azure Files natively requires that authentication to the underlying Azure Storage is done using the Access Key on the Storage Account. This may be okay for an application that needs programmatic access to the share, however, for users, it’s a problem.
Sure, as IT you could map the file share for users with the key, however, how do you then know who made changes to audit the use of the file server with Azure Files? How do you control access to ensure that one department has access to sensitive files with others do not?
This is where the announcement of Active Directory authentication to Azure Files comes in.
What is Active Directory Authentication for Azure Files?
Active Directory is the identity and authentication system that you will no doubt be using on-premises today. Today, your users connect to file servers and file shares using their own account and that in turn, grants and denies them access to files and folders they need.
With the announcement of Active Directory Authentication for Azure Files, we can extend this same capability to to provide a file server with Azure Files.
Setting up Azure Files is easy by simply creating a Storage Account and a File Share in the Storage Account. The steps to implement the Active Directory authentication are slightly more involved and require some PowerShell work. It’s all described at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/storage/files/storage-files-active-directory-overview.
How do users access the shares?
As IT, we can provision access to the file shares when using the file server with Azure Files exactly as you would an on-premises file server. By simply pointing the users to the UNC path directly or by mapping a Network Folder or Network Drive letter. You can even incorporate Azure Files File Shares into a Distributed File System (DFS) if you are using DFS namespaces to provide a consolidated view of files across the organisation.
Because the access to the file server with Azure Files is based in the cloud, users can access the file shares away from the corporate network allowing users working from home or remotely to continue to be able to access the files out of the office.
What if we aren’t ready to fully migrate our file server with Azure Files?
If you aren’t ready to fully migrate but you want to take advantage of using Azure Files as a means to store file data off-site then you could look at using Azure File Sync. With the Azure File Sync technology, you keep a file server on-premises but you can scale down the size and footprint of the server by moving cold data to Azure Storage and only keeping the hot, frequently accessed data, on-premises.
Interested in moving you File Server to the cloud?
If you are interested in moving your file server to the cloud with either Azure Files using Active Directory authentication or you want to keep some files on-premises but downsize, get in touch with us at Arcible and we can help you find the best solution for your file storage needs while leveraging the cloud.