Attachments are a big problem: survey

A survey into employee behaviour commissioned by Axway found that 82 percent of employees use their personal email accounts to send large work-related files when an email attachment exceeds the size limit imposed by IT.

However, IT professionals report this as their least-preferred method for file transfer. Physical media is also used by 80 percent of employees, which is also discouraged by IT.

Security and compliance issues are the most serious problems with file transfer activities, cited as a challenge by 53 to 68 percent of those surveyed (depending on the type of file transfer involved).

Email systems were never designed to support large file transfers and they do not manage them well. Additionally, email performance suffers, storage costs rise and overall IT costs increase when these large files are sent as attachments.

File transfers are exceedingly common between organizations, at growing volumes, which further exposes organizations to data loss if not managed through secure means. The research shows that 20 percent of organizations transfer files with more than 500 external organizations each week, while another 22 percent transfer files with 101 to 500 external entities weekly.

An earlier Osterman Research survey found that 29 percent of the emails sent through corporate email systems contain attachments. Additionally, the typical user in a large organization sends and receives 149 emails in a typical day. In an organization of 5,000 users, the following message volumes will be generated annually:
193.7 million emails will be sent and received
56.2 million will contain attachments
10.7 million will have an attachment that exceeds five megabytes
3.4 million will have an attachment that exceeds 10 megabytes

“Growing file sizes, coupled with attachment size limits and storage issues, create a file transfer impasse between employees and IT, with data security and audit trails the primary victim,” said Michael Osterman of Osterman Research. ”Organizations should determine how to address these issues associated with sending attachments via email. File transfer systems should run independently of email, provide data security and audit trails, while enabling the definition and enforcement of file transfer rules and policies.”

Of the IT decision maker respondents surveyed:
64 percent are concerned or very concerned about the violation of security policies or mandates as a result of file transfers, yet many continue to allow the use of standard FTP
61 percent are concerned or very concerned about the compromise of proprietary customer or company data
56 percent are concerned or very concerned about their ability to comply with internal or external audit requirements
53 percent are concerned or very concerned about the visibility and monitoring of file transfer and exchanges

“All industries, regardless of size, face file transfer issues,” said Joe Fisher, senior vice president of product and solutions marketing at Axway. “Without a dedicated, secure file transfer system, organizations must be prepared to deal with the consequences, including compromised sensitive data security, costs associated with remediating security violations and higher operations or IT costs for shipping physical media or storage for email systems.” 

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