May 2, 2022
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4
min read
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By:
The CoreView Team

With the rise of remote work, Microsoft Teams has seen a massive increase in adoption across a variety of organizations, which has allowed teams to continue to collaborate effectively. However, with such a dramatic increase in active users, there is a parallel increase in potential security risks associated with Microsoft Teams sprawl within your tenant.  

Below, we’ll uncover 8 of the most common specific security risks and general areas of concern for organizations utilizing Microsoft Teams.

Unauthorized devices

Within your organization, there are very likely two classes of devices being used to access your Teams environment – those that are explicitly authorized (and likely managed remotely by your IT staff) and those that are not.

Limiting access to unauthorized devices enables users to maintain high levels of productivity while simultaneously protecting your organization from potential data leaks. Microsoft 365 offers administrators the ability to limit unauthorized devices to limit access to particular resources entirely or to provide read-only access as needed. For example, you can allow users to view documents from unauthorized devices but block their ability to edit or download documents from them.

Guest users

Along with the general shift to remote work, there has been a complementary shift in the way that teams are built. More and more often, external vendors, contractors, and other guests are being brought into organizations in order to offer some specific expertise or skill sets. However, there are likely cases in which you will want to limit guest access to particular channels in order to protect business-critical information that guests simply don’t need access to in order to perform their duties.

Tenant administrators can either enable or disable guest access to Teams generally, but granular control of guest access to particular channels will likely need to be accomplished through the creation of private channels to which a given guest has not been invited.

Screen sharing

Screen sharing is often an essential element of effective video conferencing – particularly when complex information is being relayed and discussed. However, this extremely common practice has the potential to introduce security and compliance risks for your organization.

One of the most common screen sharing security concerns arises when a user fails to turn off his or her notifications prior to sharing the screen. This can result in the accidental leak of both personal information related to the user as well as business-critical information if alerts from private channels are accidentally displayed while screen sharing. Training employees on screen sharing best practices will go a long way to reducing this risk in your organization.

File sharing

Remote work calls for the sharing of documents remotely – if the team isn’t in the office, they certainly can’t hand off physical documents. While delivering this ability is essential to maintaining an effective workforce, it can also introduce a variety of security concerns. Specifically, Microsoft Teams inherits security settings from peripheral applications such as SharePoint and OneDrive, so the default sharing permissions in Teams will be those that have been set at the Tenant level.

Microsoft 365 offers a straightforward solution to this problem in the form of Sensitivity Labels, which are specific access rules that are associated with a given document and that are maintained persistently with that document as metadata that travels with the document as it is shared.

Channel access

As organizations move away from email as the primary mode of communication throughout the workday in favor of more immediate forms of communication such as direct messaging in Teams, there is an increasing need to granularly control who can access particular channels within your Teams environment.

One means of achieving the required level of control comes in the form of channel moderators, who can either be the channel owner (the default moderator) or another channel member if the owner has granted permission. Moderators can start new posts in the channel, add or remove channel members as needed, and control things like bots being added to a given channel.

Phishing

While phishing isn’t a new problem – it’s been one of the most common means of cyber-attacks for years – bad actors are evolving the practice to better align with the ways in which organizations are currently working. Specifically, there has been a marked increase in the number of malicious links being shared in Microsoft Teams that either direct users to malicious websites or initiate a direct download of malware onto their local workstation.

Microsoft 365 has built-in protection against such attacks with Safe Links, a feature that scans URLs when they are clicked, but before a user is redirected to the link’s address.

Compliance

In addition to potential security threats from external elements to an organization, there is also a very real need to maintain compliance with organizational and industry regulations with respect to the ways in which employees interact remotely, how and for how long specific data is stored, and the like.

For example, there is likely a specific period of time during which your organization must retain documents in order to stay in compliance with intra and extra-organizational regulations. However, it is in the best interest of your organization to dispose of such documents after this period has elapsed in order to reduce your risk of data leaks.

Data residency

As data privacy laws continue to become more and more robust, organizations need to be vigilant in their approach to managing data residency. For example, Russia’s Data Protection Act, the UAE’s Regulatory Framework for Stored Values and Electronic Payment Systems and the US’ Consumer Protection Regulations each require specific criteria to be met when storing data within their specific geographic boundaries. Microsoft 365 Multi-Geo simplifies this for organizations by allowing them to store data in one or more locations in order to facilitate seamless compliance with such regulations.

Takeaways

Securing your Teams environment is essential to maintaining the collaborative efforts that make your business excel, while also ensuring that your sensitive data is secure, and your organization remains in compliance with the various regulatory bodies that govern it.

Ready to conquer the chaos and get the full value of Microsoft 365, gain full oversight of your environment, and move at full speed? Request a personalized CoreView demo today.

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