Data Security Consequences of risks posed by Collaboration Tools

Data Security Consequences

Businesses need to continuously monitor and assess vendors to address cyber risk, even beyond the onboarding phase. When collaboration security is done well, it ensures responsible policy management across multiple collaboration and communications platform.

The sudden adoption of a remote working policy due to the coronavirus pandemic meant many IT and security teams had to scramble to figure out how to support massive growth in remote employees. One way they achieved this is by directing them to turn to convenient, online collaboration tools.

The demands for these products have grown so enormously that many are even offering free services for a period. While these sudden changes were initially seen as a quick way of ensuring business continuity, it has become clear that remote working and operational agility will be critical for the business going forward.

However, while these collaboration tools connect employees while they are in isolation, they also expose organizations and users to new cybersecurity risks.

Security Challenges

With millions of devices connected to the internet simultaneously, the threat landscape has grown exponentially. Vulnerabilities can be found everywhere, from non-updated or inadequate security defenses, compromised devices, user profiles working with IPR data, and the trust issue of user identity over the internet.

If a hacker compromises a user account, they have powerful access to get behind company defenses. Once inside a collaboration platform, they can pose as an employee to share malicious docs to move laterally into other devices.

Read More: Cybersecurity and Risks with Remote Working – Cyber Threats Are For Real

Also, having legacy security and data loss prevention (DLP) tools to handle on-site collaboration and work environments is just not suitable for this new remote working environment. Security teams still running traditional DLP tools will not detect activity happening in these cloud environments. Traditional DLP tools block collaboration, the exact opposite of what workers need to do to stay productive from their remote offices.

For security teams, there are numerous challenges to consider. With a few organizations preparing to return to the office, security teams will be planning the mammoth task of managing thousands of staff bringing unprotected, unpatched machines back to the corporate network.

Adopting a Zero Trust approach

Organizations can no longer just rely on strong password authentication. To minimize the potential impact of phishing attacks, which steal user credentials of employees working remotely, adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote access is crucial.

A big risk associated with these situations is a lack of awareness among employees. Organizations must train their employees on company procedures and policies for data usage and educate them on potential risks.

Security teams need to be conscious of shadow IT – employees downloading various apps and software instead of the recommended collaboration tools and applications. Employees do this because they are familiar with the app, but this presents new vulnerabilities.

Security teams also need to consider the security posture of the software they bring onboard and prioritize these vendors for a closer level of inspection. They need to take stock of the vendor’s privacy policies, what encryption protocols are in place, how data is handled and used, in addition to vital information on how they manage their own third-party and supply chain risk.

Read More: Back to Office: Cybersecurity Concerns in the Post-COVID Landscape

Taking stock

Like with any platform used widely in business, hackers are constantly looking to exploit vulnerabilities in collaboration applications.

Security teams have to remain vigilant and constantly review the tools and processes that have been put in place and rethink the way they approach security.  It will help ensure the new security policies and protocols support effective collaboration while also minimizing any potential security threats.