The Challenges of Collaboration Security

by Aware HQ

Enterprise collaboration datasets are growing exponentially. Organizations must find ways to get ahead of the liabilities they contain.

What lurks in your enterprise collaboration dataset? It’s a question many IT and legal departments are currently wrestling with how to answer. In 2021, a court ruled that collaboration data is relevant to eDiscovery. The risk posed by unknown communications has become clear. 

But how do organizations wrap their arms around a dataset that is growing at unprecedented rates? How do businesses safeguard collaboration without driving employees to shadow IT? And how can new restrictions be retroactively applied to the data stack to purge communications that put the enterprise at risk? 

Common Collaboration Data Risk Factors 

Collaborative technology solutions such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace and Workplace from Meta were already on the roadmap for many organizations pre-pandemic. However, the overnight shift to remote work accelerated the adoption of these programs, without establishing appropriate safeguards in advance. That left organizations exposed to new risks, without the controls to mitigate them. 

Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), and Payment Card Industry (PCI) data can all creep into collaboration environments and go undetected without appropriate oversight. There they pose risk to the organization from a legal and regulatory standpoint. They also expose the enterprise’s customers or clients and could severely impact consumer trust if discovered. 

Most instances of unauthorized collaboration use stem from good intentions. Employees use collaboration to work more efficiently. The informal nature of collaboration blurs the boundaries between social and corporate communication. Without training and guardrails, mistakes are inevitable. 

Taking Control of Collaboration Security 

Collaboration hasn’t been all bad for business. Studies have long shown that collaborative workplaces are more productive. The value of collaboration is assured, but only if leaders can mitigate the risks that collaboration introduces. 

This begins with understanding the role collaboration plays in your organization. Unlike neat, linear chains of emails, collaboration data is much messier and far more complex. It occurs in a tangled web of public, private, and direct messages. Users can join and leave channels in a click, instantly gaining access to the entire archive of messages they contain. 

And collaboration language is unlike anything else. It lacks the formal structure of other written communications, and organizations may find employees making major business decisions with a 👍 or 👎. That means enterprise leaders need to install solutions that understand the context of collaboration, not just the content. 

Reasons to Prioritize Enterprise Collaboration Protection 

Two years on from the onset of the pandemic, it’s time for organizations to take collaboration security seriously. Courts and regulators have woken up to the value of collaboration datasets. For the unprepared that can mean costly and time-consuming eDiscovery. 

Data privacy laws also impact collaboration. If presented with a subject access request, how long would it take your organization to isolate all the messages from a single custodian? And how confident would you be in those results? 

Managing this new dataset requires all new controls. Software like Aware, which understands the language of collaboration and can follow messages throughout the ecosystem. That was built for collaboration and uses AI/ML workflows trained on collaboration language. 

Aware is the only governance, risk, and compliance solution for collaboration built specifically to address collaboration’s unique dataset and context. 

Get More Insights 

Writing for Security Info Watch, Aware Product Evangelist Chris Plescia explores the top concerns facing information leaders as they get to grips with collaboration data security. 

Check out the article for more insight into how your organization should prioritize enterprise collaboration security and mitigate the risks of unstructured, unmoderated communication. 

Topics:Enterprise Collaboration