Iowa State Community Encouraged to Use CyBox for File Sharing

Mar 05, 2019

In order to better protect personal information, Iowa State University account holders are encouraged to move away from sending attachments by email, and instead share files through the university’s preferred platform, CyBox. 

Although popular, sending attachments by email has many risks, including the inability to control attachments after they have been sent and the ease of sending an attachment to the wrong email address. Iowa State account holders who use CyBox to share files can significantly reduce the chances of unauthorized individuals accessing sensitive or restricted data by accident.  

“When you email an attachment, you lose control of the file and any data it contains,” said Information Technology Services (ITS) Security Analyst Andy Almquist. “When it goes out, you can no longer restrict who it goes to and who is allowed to see it, and out-of-control data can be toxic.” 

CyBox currently has 50,000 Iowa State users, and is the best and most widely used file storage option available on campus. CyBox allows users to grant and take away various levels of access to data, ranging from viewing only to co-owner status. If a CyBox link is accidentally sent to someone, it can be quickly removed; if the recipient does not have permission to view the file, they cannot open it without requesting and being granted access by the file owner. In addition, CyBox provides the sender the ability to see who accessed a file and what they did with it. 

“When you use CyBox, you can control access to files and data, and there are fewer opportunities for mistakes,” Almquist said.  

CyBox is approved for hosting highly restricted data associated with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law protecting the privacy of student education records, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), legislation providing data privacy and security provisions to safeguard medical information.  

In addition to providing increased security, using CyBox for file sharing is more convenient than sending email attachments, as the online content management service can host and share files significantly larger than email allows.  

 “If you send a file through Outlook, you max out at 150 MB, a fraction of what you could put on a CD,” said ITS Systems Operations Manager Jason Shuck. “If you send a CyBox link, the file can be 15 GB — about the size of a small flash drive — and our contract allows you to share as many files as you want.”  

CyBox is also ideal for hosting collaborative work, as it offers the ability to easily track document changes in one place, as opposed to sending attachments out to multiple recipients and comparing edits and versions.  

“If you use CyBox, you can see the updates other people make in real time, which you can't do with email attachments,” Shuck said. “It’s a nice perk within a system that already offers enhanced security and user control when it comes to file sharing.”  

More information about CyBox can be found here.