1) Identify file sharing habits
2) Track where files end up
How to identify file sharing habits within your domain
When collaborating within Google Workspace, there are multiple ways of sharing to other people’s Google Drive available. Depending on your domain settings, you can share files with:
- Specific users
- Specific groups
- The whole domain (with a link)
- Anyone with the link (publicly accessible)
All four methods are reflected in your Florbs dashboard:
The blocks show you an overview of the amount of files that are shared by a specific method
So, what are we looking at?
The amount of files that a user has shared. E.g: the total amount of all sharing methods combined. This block will provide you with an indication whether there is a lot of (external) collaboration happening.
Shared with anyone:
The amount of files that are shared publicly. Everyone with the URL to a file is able to access these files.
The amount of files that are shared with the whole domain. Everyone within the same domain as the person who shared it is able to access these files.
The amount of files shared with a group. When you hover over this block, you are able to differentiate between internal and external groups.
The amount of files that are shared with specific users. The most precise and transparent way of file-sharing. Hovering over the block differentiates between internal and external users as well.
By using your Florbs dashboard, you can see which sharing methods are used the most. And, whether file sharing is done safely. When combining this with the extensive search functionality, you can also track what kind of files are shared which way.
Share safely, share specifically
Although all different sharing methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, it is a safe option to stick to the principle of least privilege; If people don’t need full access, don’t grant them full access. File sharing management is as important as other safety measures within your domain.
It is possible to restrict sharing publicly across your domain entirely. However, there are a lot of situations in which files are meant to be shared publicly. If you restrict file sharing, those files will be duplicated/downloaded or sent as attachments . And they will float around in all kinds of different versions. This means that although you won’t see the sharing within your Google Workspace anymore, it is still happening. Luckily, Florbs enables to monitor your Google Drive without forbidding all kinds of options.
Deeper into sharing habits
Let’s look at the sharing habits of Scott as shown on the screenshot. He shares a lot of files with groups and users, but a lot of them publicly as well. With the amount of files that Scott shared externally, it could be a good idea to check what is happening. Although sharing files using the ‘anyone with the link’ ’option could have been done intentional, it could be done due to being in a hurry or out of ignorance about better sharing methods as well.
By using the extensive search function you can take a look at what kind of files are shared. This helps you to make a proper estimation whether you want these files floating around, or if you need to revoke some permissions. Educating colleagues on other ways of sharing or a good conversation about a possible need of groups/shared drives is highly recommended when you identify a lot of shares using this method.
So, are you wondering how to check these habits thoroughly? Let’s deep dive into the extensive search functionality.
How to track where Google Drive files end up
There are two ways to track where data ends up. There is an extensive search functionality where you can search for data that matches specific criteria. However, if you want to analyze the data in less depth, there are some blocks that offer a clear overview as well.
The blocks with ‘sharing domains’ and ‘shared external’ offer a quick glance into your domain. They show – you guessed it – the domain files are shared with and with which mail addresses the most files are shared. The blocks are quite useful for three purposes:
1) to have an overview of what’s happening within your domain,
2) to identify where possible data exposure could occur and
3) to track remarkable changes.
These graphs show you important information on the sharing habits of your domain. They identify the domains and users with which the most files are shared. Apparently, there are quite a few shares with personal email addresses (hotmail.com and gmail.com . And what about all those shares with @example.com? Is that collaboration still in place or should these permissions be withdrawn?
Drive audit – the extensive search functionality
The extensive search function allows a more in depth insight into possible data exposure. It is useful to do some research on specific files or domains you’ve seen in the overview or to do some routine checks on specific terms or domains.
There are multiple filters available, the filters allow to search for files based on:
- Name, file ID, shared drive location
- Who files are shared with
- The file owner
- Location: shared drives, my drives or orphaned
- Exposure: anyone with the link , only domain with the link, restricted or not shared
- The domain the files are shared with
- Type of file (drive files like sheets, docs, forms and lot of other files like audio, video, Apps Scripts, Shortcuts and such as well)
Or combine multiple of these filters at the same time.
Identified permissions that need to change? By using these filters you can create bulk actions with just a few clicks. This allows you to change permissions for multiple Google Drive files at once. Select the files you want to change permissions for, click on ‘add action’ in the upper right corner and change permissions immediately. (Read more about bulk actions and how to create them at this blog)
And voila, you can monitor all file-sharing within your domain. Adopt a more in depth file sharing approach, just keep an eye on the file management of the domain or manage your data exposure extensively.