Google Drive is a great tool for storing your documents and collaboration with your team using their tools like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. However, what happens when you need to share these documents with someone else? and most importantly how safe are my shared documents?
To answer this question let’s look at the different ways you can share your docs using Google Drive.
Sharing with a Share Link
When Google first created Google Drive they needed an easy way for documents to be shared, mainly because these documents reside on Google servers (not your computer) they’d need to provide an easy way for someone to actually download a copy of the document. So they came up with share links.
Sharing a file using Google Drive using a share link is the easiest way to share your documents. Anyone with the link will be able to view and download the file. However, therein lies the issue, anyone with the link can view and download the document. This means that it can be shared with whomever and since Google Drive doesn’t track downloads you’ll have no idea who, or how many people have downloaded your document. This is probably your worst nightmare if you’re sharing something confidential.
Share with Specific People
I imagine that Google probably got lots of feedback from their customers around how insecure their share link feature worked and in response to this they created a second way of sharing files: “Share with Specific People”. You specify the email address of an individual and only they would be able to access the file.
Great problem solved!
Unfortunately not. Firstly this feature requires that your recipient has a Google account, and secondly they can still download the file and share it with anyone they want. So although this is great for collaborating with a team of individuals that you trust, what about sending confidential information to someone you don’t fully trust?
Secure Document Sharing
Secure document sharing is a feature that is provided by third party plugins for Google Drive like Orangedox. It helps to solve the issue with sharing directly from Google Drive, ensuring that your documents are only viewed by the intended recipient.
How does secure document sharing work?
When sharing using a secure document sharing service you’ll be able to share with anyone who has an email account, not just for Google users. Secondly you’ll be able to prevent the document from being downloaded. This will force your audience to view the document online, allowing you to control access and help prevent it from being shared without your permission.
But couldn’t they just share the link and/or password?
Orangedox gets around this issue by not using any passwords, as they can easily be shared. Instead your documents are attached to a specific recipient's device (like their phone, laptop, tablet etc..) once it's first opened, which prevents the recipient from being able to forward access to someone else. Even if they share the link to the document, once it’s attached to a device only that device will be able to open that document link.
You can then simply control the number of devices each recipient can view your documents from, and disable access whenever you want.
Google Drive is a great tool for storing your documents and collaborating on their creation. But it lacks the security features needed to ensure that your documents are protected. Instead look to third party plugins, like Orangedox, to help securely share your documents.