What happens when you email an attachment to someone? Even the most organized of us choose to Archive old emails, rather than Delete. So your attachment is likely to sit in their email account, and yours, indefinitely.
Letting files live indefinitely in your email account (and all the accounts you've sent emails to) is like making copies of your filing cabinet, and leaving the copies in places where anyone can find them.
Sure, the email accounts are locked for protection. But people have widely varying standards of protection. If their standard is just a password, that protection is probably weak.
Email and your business
The problem with attachments being left in your account (and everyone else's) is that those attachments become a risk. Why, you ask, are those files a risk? Well, that depends on what you send in your email. Think back on anything you've sent over the years. For the average person, that includes anything from class photos to passport copies and birth certificates.
When storage became cheap, we collectively stopped deleting emails. One rare exception is my mother. Still concerned about running out of space on her email account, she continues to delete email. In her circle she's now one of the safest to email.
You don't have to start deleting emails. But you're reading this newsletter because you run a business or work remotely. So know that your personal habits can become liabilities.
A liability is a risk for which you are responsible. Protecting your own internal business files is just common sense. But having your clients' data in your email account is a liability, and many new business owners are not aware that it's their legal responsibility to keep that data safe. Wouldn't you want businesses to keep safe anything you entrusted them with?
How to keep files safe when sending
We can easily avoid leaving files in email, by substituting email with a different tool when sending files. There are tools that are both safer and more convenient. We use a select few ourselves.
We've written previously about the risk of encouraging clients to send us their documents using email. There, we talked about alternatives which let clients use tools they may already have. Our app of choice also gives us useful abilities like making sensitive files automatically disappear from the app after a set time has passed. The result is similar to the self-destructing instructions from Tom Cruise's bosses at the start of every Mission Impossible, but without the fire hazard of a flaming laptop.
But, relying on clients having a messaging app to receive documents from us is avoidable friction. They may not yet have the app, and we'd prefer to not impose an extra setup step for them, especially when we can make delivery much easier from our end.
When we want to use email, but avoid attaching the files, we use Bitwarden's Send feature. There are many other options, but we chose Bitwarden because it best fits our standards of security and convenience.
If you're a regular reader of Majorcord, you may already use Bitwarden to manage your passwords. To try Send, there's no extra setup for you!
Bitwarden Send lets us create a link to a file. We send the link to the client, using email as usual. But the file itself doesn't go into the email.
All the client has to do is follow the link using their browser, to download the file. You can send them this Step-by-Step to walk them through the action.
Safety, features, and cost savings
- Email attachments sit in email accounts waiting to be stolen. Using a tool like Bitwarden Send allows us to remove this liability.
- Tools like Send come with features which make it much easier to control how people access our sent files.
- Email attachments take up storage space. You may have plenty of space at this moment. But eventually, you'll pay for more storage from your provider, just to avoid going through years of email to delete old ones.