With the increase in remote and hybrid work comes more reliance on online communication and collaboration platforms, which also means more confidential data being shared across those platforms. SharePoint is one such web-based collaboration platform that enables seamless communication within and across organizations. It is a popular tool due to being highly configurable and effective, but is SharePoint online secure enough to keep your confidential data confidential? And how can you make it more secure?
Is SharePoint Online Secure?
Microsoft is dedicated to ensuring the security of crucial data, especially nowadays when threats to security continue to increase and are expected to increase further each year. To ensure the security of your SharePoint environment, Microsoft includes out-of-the-box security features, such as a PowerShell console that requires two-factor authentication to access the service. Even Microsoft engineers must request access when they require it. In other words, nobody but the people you choose to give permission to are able to access your documents and files.
While Microsoft has measures in place to strengthen the security of your data in SharePoint, sometimes this may not be enough. We’ll discuss some potential threats to SharePoint below and how to improve SharePoint online security by enabling features available to you.
Potential Threats to SharePoint
We’re all aware of common threats to cybersecurity, including malware and phishing. However, Microsoft’s security measures make it very difficult to hack into SharePoint online, so these issues are less of a concern. In fact, security issues typically arise internally, when trusted employees share access incorrectly, share the wrong files externally, or don’t set expiration dates on the links they share. SharePoint makes it easy to share links with pretty much anyone on the internet, and this can raise security concerns if the link falls into the wrong hands.
Employees should ensure they are following best practices for sharing links with unauthorized or external users to protect sensitive information and keep SharePoint online secure, including setting expiration dates, setting permissions for who can view and/or edit, and setting links to only be viewed by people in the organization by default. All of these factors can be modified if needed, but choosing the option that maximizes security by default can help accidents be avoided.
How to Keep SharePoint Online Secure
By classifying what should be kept confidential, you can keep SharePoint online secure by tightening your:
- Tenant Settings
By default, sharing settings may be set to the most permissive option, which is that users can share files and folders with links that don’t require the recipient to sign in. You should choose a less permissive setting, such as requiring new and existing guests to sign in or provide a verification code, only letting existing guests sign in, or only letting people in your organization see the files and disabling external sharing completely. You can also limit external sharing to specific domains or allow only certain users to share externally.
- Site Settings
By default, there are 3 types of SharePoint groups created – owners, members, and visitors. Each group already has a permission level assigned to it, but if they don’t fit your needs, you can simply create a new group and assign a custom permission level to it. For best practices, creating your own group and custom permission level is optimal, and you should avoid modifying or deleting the default groups if possible. Also, if you can create Active Directory (AD) groups and then add these security groups to SharePoint, it is better than adding users individually, as this can be difficult to manage.
- Site Sharing
To mitigate unauthorized sharing of files, folders, and sites, you have a few options. You can let site owners and members share files, folders, and the site, while people with edit permissions are able to share files and folders. Another option is to only let site owners share the site, but members and people with edit permissions can still share files and folders. The least permissive option is to only let site owners share files, folders, and the site, but this can sometimes be a hassle because nobody else on the team has the ability to share files with anyone. This may actually create more work for the site owner.
We know it sounds super complicated, and it can be, but there are some simpler measures you can take to improve your security. Some other ways you can increase your SharePoint online security include:
- Train Employees
Ensure your employees are aware of company policies and data compliance requirements, including sensitivity labels, retention labels and policies, data loss prevention, and sensitive info types. Users given permissions to access the Security and Compliance center should have the knowledge to create thoughtful, carefully implemented labels and policies.
- Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication should be applied to all accounts wherever possible as even adding this simple extra step can help lessen security concerns significantly by ensuring the right people are signing in and accessing sensitive information.
- Conduct Regular Audits
By consistently monitoring your security settings, you can see who has access to what data and can modify it if necessary. Perhaps a certain document no longer requires external users to access it, and in this case, you can manage access by removing them from the document.
Let Klarinet Solutions Help You Maintain the Security of Your SharePoint Environment
Ensuring your security measures are stringent enough but not too restrictive to the point that they impact employee productivity can seem daunting, but fret not, we are here to help!
The experts at Klarinet Solutions know the ins and outs of SharePoint and can help you implement security measures that are the best fit for your organization. Contact us today to come up with a plan to make your SharePoint online secure.