Mitigating the risks associated with collaboration tools is crucial for businesses. This is especially true when remote work and digital collaboration have become the norm.
Most businesses, especially those with geographically dispersed teams, use collaboration software to streamline project planning and improve communication. Although collaboration software greatly increases team productivity, some inherent security risks exist.
The risk of data loss can increase when discussing sensitive project details on third-party software. Sending or storing sensitive data in these systems means using the cloud for collaboration.
Some popular cloud-based collaboration platforms are Office 365, G-Suite, Dropbox, and Box. Some on-premises ones like SharePoint Server or file shares can be cloud-based.
Generally, cloud providers put security at the top of their promises to their clients. So, the cloud is more secure than on-premises solutions in most cases.
However, collaboration platforms have common information risks regardless of whether the data is in an on-premises or cloud environment.
According to a recent Collaboration Security report by Mimecast,
“The global survey of 600 security leaders and over 3,000 employees shows that 94% of organizations have encountered a threat through collaboration tools. The effect is far from insignificant, costing businesses thousands of dollars in direct financial losses. Firms suffer countless additional losses to reputation, productivity, employee and customer satisfaction.”
Fortunately, these risks can be reduced, no matter which vendor companies use them.
Risk Mitigation for Business Collaboration Tools
After understanding the threat landscape, it is critical to discuss what firms can do to fight it.
According to the Gartner, Inc. Digital Worker Experience Survey,
“Nearly 80% of employees will use collaboration tools in 2022, up from just over 50% in 2019. This represents a 44% increase since the pandemic started.”
Mitigating the risks associated with collaboration tools is crucial for businesses.
Here are a few tips for how businesses can do that:
Confirm the Authenticity from the Source
Slowing down is one of the best things teams can do for an employee to safeguard their company.
Consider contacting the source via a more well-known channel if firms receive an unusual request or a request from a unique medium. Ensuring the ask is legitimate only takes an extra second before continuing.
Adopt Only Trustworthy and Safe Collaboration Tools
Software as a Service provides staff with the necessary resources to complete tasks. However, this does not imply that businesses should permit SaaS to become unregulated.
Trust the security and IT teams to choose the collaboration and SaaS tools most suitable for the security requirements. This includes the developer’s reputation, integrated encryption, strong access controls, and routine service updates.
Limit access to any tools that don’t fit within these guidelines. Firms can deal with requests for access to different applications from team members individually.
Use multiple-factor authentication
Business collaboration tools gain an additional layer of security with multi-factor authentication (MFA).
An attacker is unlikely to provide the necessary authenticator code, even if they can access an account through a stolen or brute-force password.
To prevent unauthorized access, many organizations prefer to use Okta, Google Authenticator, or other tools of a similar nature.
Access Control Audits and Configurations
For reliable cybersecurity, access control configuration is essential. These limitations on access ought to be activated by default.
There is no need to grant access to all employees to all data. IT and security departments must determine access controls based on an employee’s role and team. It will help prevent unauthorized changes to access controls.
As a business expands, employee roles change, and tech requirements will inevitably change, too. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to regularly audit and monitor access controls to stay ahead of these transitions.
Controlling BYOE (Bring your everything)
Enterprise control is the smartest method to control data exposure. Virtual collaboration tools are the only ones businesses can fully control. They can implement measures such as:
- Prevent the sharing of sensitive data with unauthorized users
- Monitor communications
- Guaranteed secure application usage on a managed device.
However, this is becoming increasingly challenging as more businesses permit BYOE (bring your everything). Many messaging apps lack enterprise controls. IT cannot prevent staff members from using their own devices, downloading, and using any messaging app they want.
Popular tools and applications add more security and enterprise features to establish control. Firms must only allow apps that work on enterprise versions. Additionally, some messaging apps have end-to-end encryption built into them by design, making them secure by default.
The global messaging security market is expanding significantly due to the rise of collaboration platforms.
According to Mordor Intelligence predictions,
“By 2028, the market will be worth roughly USD 20.46 billion, up from just over USD 7.43 billion in 2023. This equals a 22.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).“
Businesses must offer a safe and controlled substitute for employee-owned messaging apps. They should mandate that these apps be used only with the company’s approval.
This will make it possible for IT to safeguard user and business data. They could use tools like:
- Secure Web Gateways (SWG)
- Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB)
- enterprise authentication
- Mobile Threat Defence (MTD)
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Streamlining and standardizing electronic communication channels is essential for both productivity and security. Firms must remove the apps that they do not require anymore. This will help prevent application sprawl. Security teams and employees must also adhere to the protocols for using cross-border tools.
Organizations must plan monitoring and archiving solutions that guarantee data privacy while reducing risk.
Monitoring systems can effectively record and archive employee communication, regardless of encryption. They rely on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP). However, they have limitations in processing video communication.
Organizations should generally look for deep-tech solutions tailored to their unique requirements. These solutions can help with archiving, transcription, discovery, and other related issues.