Bolster security in Microsoft Teams

Can you remember three months ago? In just 90 days, things have changed dramatically. For most of us, it has been a swift transition to Work From Anywhere. We have traded in time in the office for blue jeans, the kitchen table, and video and collaboration tools at a record pace.

At the same time, video and collaboration tools have evolved rapidly. There are many platforms out there, but if you are looking for a platform that is easy to use, works, and you likely already own – Microsoft Teams is your choice.

Part of the Microsoft suite, Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool for supporting cross-functional and cross-organizational collaboration. It is incredibly useful for sharing chats, files, and meetings in which would have been traditionally organized through email. Microsoft Teams has provided an easy way for users, internally and externally, to now interact directly with colleagues and external resources that may be working together on a project or within a department.

Over the next few weeks, check out our blueprint with Microsoft Teams. We will be discussing security features, collaboration features, how to use meetings and video sharing effectively, application accessibility and automation, and finally, voice and the unified communications experience.

Security and how to apply it

As you move into this brave new world, security is a key consideration. Microsoft Teams has several built-in security policies and frameworks that can be used to help with the control of information internally and externally with your clients.

Teams is intentionally designed with an open permissions model. The lynchpin in the Office 365 portfolio, it brings all the other products together, gets users collaborating, and opens several lines of communication all from a single interface.

Taking this open architecture into consideration, here are three best practices to review and implement that will help with a secure deployment of Teams in your company.

Collaborating with external users

Whether it’s security in healthcare or security in financial services, every organization wants privacy protection during collaboration—in Microsoft Teams or in any other tool.

Microsoft Teams allows you to invite someone outside your organization to collaborate securely in two manners – external access and guest access.

External Access is a great way to share documents, files, folders, lists, and libraries. It can be limited to the particular clients (domains) your organization wishes to communicate with and should be adjusted in accordance by these restrictions. By default, Microsoft has this open for all external domains and this can cause breaches and corporate data leakage. Limiting who can access your data will help greatly with any concerns that arise.

Guest Access is a good choice if you want to collaborate with external users across multiple products for example, communicating through chat or coordinating meetings in a shared calendar. Guest Access can further be limited assist in limiting access to functions within Teams. Creating a defined security policy will assist in communicating these restrictions with your colleagues and external resources.

Application Management

You can bolster Microsoft Teams security by using a combination of built-in features and third-party tools. The extensions of the application include: Custom Tabs, Bots, and application connectors. These addons may lead to potential for unexpected consequences, such as data loss, unexpected exposure of information to other third parties, or unintentional access to the user’s computer and files, organizations and administrators must seriously consider the use before enabling it within Office365.

These risks can also include:

  1. Data privacy – customer/client data is collected and sent to and through, third-party services.
  2. Legal uncertainty – Third-party services may change without notice and could become sold to competitors the collect and use the collected data differently.

Therefore, it’s imperative the organization reviews their security policy for data handling within Teams and adjust the restrictions as necessary with addons and third-party applications.

Data Leakage and Policies

There are many security questions that end up arising during the implementation of Microsoft Teams. Such as how does Teams protect sensitive finances against leaks? Where is my data stored in Teams (and other Microsoft365 tools)? What additional cybersecurity steps might you take in Teams?

In short, the use and implementation of security policies help prevent these from happening. Microsoft Teams has several features built-in for Education, Healthcare, and SMB businesses. However, if you are looking for an increase of security and rule sets, Advanced Threat Protection is available to help curb further leakage of corporate data.

A data loss prevention policy defines how organizations can share and protect data. Employees have more ways to access and share organizational data than ever before. When you establish your DLP, remember to consider chat and channel messages. With a DLP in place, you can identify, monitor, and automatically protect sensitive information. This is very useful if your business handles credit card numbers, social security numbers, or health records from being shared or leaking unintentionally.

In today’s Work From Anywhere environment, sharing content and collaborating effectively is an important piece of the puzzle for small to medium businesses. Keep your content secure with good security practices that transform their interactions with Microsoft and other software tools.

You already have the right software. Talk to us about how you can implement a better adoption process.

Next time: We look at collaboration features with corporate data.