File Security in Google Drive: A Comprehensive Guide

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The Ultimate Guide to File Security in Google Drive

In today’s digital age, businesses are increasingly reliant on cloud-based solutions like Google Drive to facilitate collaboration and streamline operations. However, this also means that businesses must be vigilant in protecting the company’s sensitive files from security threats and ensure compliance with various data privacy regulations.

A recent study by IBM Corporation¹ revealed that as many as 83% of organizations have experienced more than one data breach in the past year. Nearly half, or 45% of all breaches occurred in the cloud. The research found that breaches in the public cloud were costliest, averaging in USD 5.02 million. IBM Corporation’s recommendations to businesses to help minimize financial impacts of a data breach include utilizing access management products and services to help provide security teams with deeper visibility into suspicious activity.

In this white paper, we’ll explore the security and auditing challenges faced by businesses operating in Google Workspace and how Florbs Security & Auditing solution for Google Drive can help address these challenges.

Table of Contents

Common Google Drive file security and compliance concerns

Data security

One of the biggest concerns for businesses operating in Google Workspace is data security. Google provides various security features to protect your data, such as two-factor authentication, encryption, and security key options. However, businesses must also take their own security measures, such as setting up strong passwords and implementing access controls to ensure that only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data. It is also crucial to train employees on best security practices and educate them on how to handle confidential information. Many businesses struggle to manage access and permissions for their files and folders in Google Workspace. This can result in unauthorized individuals gaining access to sensitive information, leading to data breaches and reputational damage.


Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention (DLP) is another crucial aspect of data security. DLP ensures that confidential data is not accidentally or intentionally leaked outside of the organization. Google Workspace provides various DLP features, such as email filters and content scanning, to prevent data loss. However, businesses must also implement their own DLP policies and controls to mitigate the risk of data loss. This includes monitoring user activity, setting up alerts for suspicious behavior, and implementing policies that restrict the sharing of sensitive information.



Compliance is another critical aspect that businesses must consider when operating in Google Workspace. Companies must comply with various regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA. Google Workspace offers multiple features and settings to comply with these regulations, such as data retention policies, data processing agreements, and data location requirements. However, businesses must also ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to comply with these regulations, such as obtaining consent from data subjects, protecting personal information, and maintaining proper documentation.


Mobile Device Management

As more employees work remotely, mobile device management (MDM) has become a critical aspect of securing company data. Google Workspace offers various MDM features, such as mobile app management and device management, to ensure that company data is secure on mobile devices. However, businesses must also implement their own MDM policies and controls to ensure that devices are secure, such as enforcing strong passwords and restricting the installation of unauthorized apps.


Third-party applications

Google Workspace provides an extensive marketplace of third-party applications that can integrate with its suite of applications. However, businesses must be cautious when using third-party applications and ensure that they are vetted for security and compliance. Third-party applications can pose a significant risk to data security, so businesses must ensure that they only use trusted applications that comply with regulations and have proper security controls in place.

The implications of poor file access management in Google Drive

Loss or alteration of data Without proper file access management in place, companies are at risk of experiencing data loss or alteration, which can have serious consequences.


Employees: If employees have access to files they shouldn’t, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they could accidentally delete or modify important data. Furthermore, if employees are granted too much access to files, they may be able to make unauthorized changes to important documents or steal confidential information.


Former employees: According to a study by Osterman Research², 89% of employees continue to have access to at least one application from their former employer now that they are working for someone else, with 76% of former employees retaining access to the company’s Google Drive. The research also found that as much as 20% of the data to which employees have access from their previous employment is either confidential or sensitive. In some situations former employees may feel that they own the project they have been working on, and retain access to it even after they leave the organization. There are also situations where former employees act with malicious intent, wanting to harm their previous employer. They could alter, delete or sell company data to competitors, or make confidential information public, which can result in loss of intellectual property or serious damage to the company’s public image.


External users: Additionally, unauthorized external users may gain access to sensitive data through phishing or other social engineering tactics, putting the company’s information at risk. That is why it is crucial to adopt a way to monitor file sharing, such as Florbs Security & Auditing solution. According to data obtained from over 300,000 Florbs users, an average of 23% of all company files are shared with external domains, and 16% of companies have 50% or more of their files shared externally. Almost half of all externally shared files (47%) are shared with personal email domains. Based on our observations, companies that first utilize Florbs Security & Auditing solution cut down the number of files accessible to anyone with a link by 50% in the first days of using the solution.


Legacy data

Companies using Google Workspace for a few years often accumulate a large volume files that, without a file security policy in place, remain accessible. As businesses grow, their data security requirements change with time, but old files are often overlooked when implementing new file security measures. And that while old files can contain sensitive information or become sensitive with time.


Legal and financial penalties for non-compliance

Various data protection regulations, such as GDPR, FIPA, CCPA, typically oblige organizations to protect confidential or sensitive data from unauthorized access. A violation of this requirement can result in substantial fines.


Reputational damage

Failing to properly protect sensitive information shared with partners and customers can damage or destroy trust, leading to the loss of business and partnerships and reducing the company’s competitive advantage. 

What should you do to ensure file security in Google Drive?

Measure the scope of the challenge

To effectively tackle the file access management issue in your organization, it’s crucial to first gauge the scope of the problem. While Google Workspace provides some visibility into file access and sharing, it may not give you a comprehensive view. That’s where Florbs Drive Audit solution comes in – conducting a data exposure scan with this tool can provide you with a clear understanding of the extent of the problem. Once you have a full picture, you can start implementing new policies and adopting products and services that are tailored to your organization’s specific needs.


Identify file sharing habits

Google Workspace offers four different ways to share files: with specific users, specific groups, the whole domain, or anyone with a link. It’s important to identify the most common sharing habits in your organization, and adjust your domain settings or provide training to employees as needed.


As companies grow, default settings that were once sufficient may no longer meet security requirements. For example, a small family company may have default settings that share all files created in the organization with the entire domain. However, as the company grows, access to confidential information needs to be limited, such as intellectual property, product information or other valuable assets.


Follow the principle of least privilege

Restricting file sharing altogether is counterproductive to data security, as it may force employees to find other ways to collaborate or share information, leading to information existing in multiple versions and making it more difficult to track and manage. Instead, it is recommended to follow the principle of least privilege and only share information with specific people on a need-to-know basis.


By implementing the principle of least privilege, you can help prevent unauthorized access to confidential information and ensure that only those who need it have access.


Centralized monitoring  and control is key for file security

It is common for files to be shared publicly due to urgency or a lack of attention. But while productivity is important, it should not come at the expense of security. And while it is important to educate your employees on security practices, expecting them to prioritize security as highly as their daily tasks is unrealistic.


For instance, a creative designer hired to work on marketing campaigns may collaborate with various internal and external teams, including freelancers and marketing agencies. The collaborators for each project are constantly changing, meaning that on top of their daily tasks the designer would have to spend  a significant amount of time to regularly check and update access permissions for all files across all projects. This could lead to frustration, reduced productivity and job satisfaction.


Centralized monitoring and control are essential for effective file access management. Florbs Security & Auditing solution allows you to manage access to your company’s data centrally, saving time and minimizing risks for your employees. With Florbs Drive Audit solution, you can monitor and understand your organization’s file-sharing behavior and make informed decisions to enhance your organization’s security posture.


Automated security policies for file access governance

Implementing automated policies can eliminate the risk of human errors and ensure that data is accessible only when necessary and only to those who need it. By creating policies that automatically revoke access, manage access permissions, adjust link settings, and apply Drive labels to files that meet your selected criteria, you can enhance data security, organization and compliance. Read more about how automated policies can protect your company’s data in Google Workspace.


Data classification

By categorizing files based on their sensitivity, organizations can implement more targeted security measures. Drive labels enable businesses to allocate access permissions to files in Google Drive more accurately, ensuring that only authorized individuals can view or modify sensitive data. Additionally, data classification facilitates the creation of well-defined automated security policies, helping organizations maintain compliance with data protection regulations. Drive labels also assist in quickly identifying and monitoring potential security risks. Read more about how Drive labels can help maintain data security and compliance in Google Drive.


Regular file access monitoring in real-time

Files are created and shared daily outside of your organization, that is why it is important to perform regular checks to avert any potential risks before they become an issue. Monitoring and updating permissions manually in Google Workspace is a menial, time-consuming process, with limited visibility and control.


Florbs Security & Auditing solution provides you with an easy-to-understand dashboard, giving you instant insights and ability to act quickly. Bulk actions enable you to efficiently manage access and permissions for multiple files and users with just a couple of clicks, and extensive search capabilities help you quickly locate orphaned files and potential threats.

Full file access permissions overview with just a couple of clicks

Gain complete visibility of file-sharing behavior across your organization in mere minutes with Florbs Drive Audit. With just a few clicks, you can quickly identify any security risks that could potentially compromise your company’s data and reputation.


Our intuitive dashboard provides you with an overview of the number of files shared by a specific method, allowing you to easily pinpoint areas of concern. This powerful tool enables you to take proactive measures to prevent security breaches and safeguard your organization’s sensitive information.


An example of overview of files by their sharing method:


Identify where potential data exposure could occur

The user-friendly dashboard provides clear insights into which domains and users have the highest number of shared files. With this information, you can easily determine if there is a need to provide training on proper sharing practices for the entire organization or if targeted training for specific users is necessary.

Screenshot of Florbs solution for Google Drive security, auditing and access governance

Find the right files with the extensive search functionality

If you need to get a more detailed insight on specific files, domains or users, use one or a combination of many filters available in Florbs:

Instantly change file access permissions

Florbs gives you the flexibility to update file access permissions in a way that best fits your needs.


You can choose to update permissions for individual files by searching by file name or owner, or for multiple files at once based on various criteria. For example, you can revoke access for a specific domain or user, or restrict access to outdated files based on the date they were last opened.


Additionally, you can filter by file type, location, and sharing method (such as files shared with anyone with a link) to ensure you’re managing only the files that match your specific criteria.

Florbs app interface: Select files access settings in Google Drive to remove sharing

Regularly monitor and update file access permissions

With Florbs, monitoring your drive audit dashboard and ensuring that file access permissions are always up-to-date is a breeze. You can easily review any potential threats on a regular basis, making it easier to maintain the highest level of data security. Furthermore, every bulk action you take is automatically saved within the app, streamlining the process and saving you valuable time when performing similar updates in the future.

Create bulk action to remove all sharing in Google Drive in Florbs app


While Google Drive provides robust security and compliance features, businesses must also take their own measures to ensure the security and compliance of their data. This includes implementing their own policies and controls, training employees on best practices, and regularly reviewing and updating their security measures. By taking a proactive approach to security and compliance, businesses can ensure that their data is secure and protected in Google Workspace.

About Florbs

Florbs is an official Google Cloud Partner based in the Netherlands. Our mission is to help businesses streamline their operations in Google Workspace with secure, user-friendly, and innovative solutions. With decades of experience in Google Workspace, we have developed powerful software tools that address common challenges faced by businesses operating in Google Workspace.


Our solutions include advanced security and auditing features to protect your company data in Google Drive, streamlined admin automation to create efficient user lifecycle workflows, and email signature management to maintain brand consistency and execute effective marketing campaigns. Our team of experts works closely with clients to understand their unique needs and implement solutions that drive business success.


With Florbs you will have access to cutting-edge technology and expert guidance to optimize your operations and stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Visit our website at to learn more about our services and how we can help your business succeed.

References and further reading

About the author

Niek Waarbroek

Niek Waarbroek

Niek is a certified Google Developer Expert with over 12 years of experience in Google Workspace. Witnessing numerous businesses struggle with similar challenges in Google Workspace, he took it upon himself to develop Florbs to help businesses protect their data in Google Drive.

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