Is Microsoft Teams Secure for Business Users?
Microsoft Teams is a leading collaboration tool used by businesses to streamline communication and enhance productivity. But does Teams secure sensitive and proprietary data and protect it from malicious actors? In this post, we explore the security features and potential risks associated with Microsoft Teams and provide insights into how businesses can ensure a secure environment for confidential information.
Learn more about how Aware can secure Microsoft Teams for businesses
- What is Microsoft Teams?
- Is Teams the same as Microsoft Office or Outlook?
- 10 business benefits of Microsoft Teams
- 5 business risks of Microsoft Teams
- What Microsoft Teams security and compliance features are available?
- How to make Microsoft Teams more secure
- How Aware supports information security in Microsoft Teams
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform offered by Microsoft. It serves as a hub for teamwork, enabling users to chat, meet, call, and collaborate on various tasks in a single application. As a Microsoft 365 App, Teams integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft applications, such as Office, Outlook, and SharePoint.
Is Teams the same as Microsoft Office or Outlook?
While Microsoft Teams is a component of the broader Microsoft Office 365 suite, it is distinct from other tools like Microsoft Office and Outlook. Microsoft Office encompasses a collection of productivity applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Outlook, on the other hand, is primarily an email client and personal information manager. While these tools can be integrated with Microsoft Teams, they serve different purposes and cater to diverse aspects of business operations.
Other Microsoft products include SharePoint, a web-based collaboration and document management platform, and OneDrive, a cloud storage and file synchronization service. Collectively, these applications provide a fully integrated digital workspace where employees can create and share content, collaborate, and manage every aspect of their work schedule.
10 business benefits of Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams offers several business benefits that can enhance productivity, collaboration, and communication within organizations. From minimizing information silos to fostering flexibility, here are 10 key benefits of using Microsoft Teams chat and video platform:
- Seamless Communication: Teams enables real-time and asynchronous collaboration regardless of location or time zone.
- Enhanced Collaboration: A central hub for collaboration allows users to co-author documents, share files, and work on projects simultaneously.
- Streamlined Workflows: With integrated apps and services, Teams removes the need to switch between applications to view or share information.
- Video Conferencing: Colleagues can engage in face-to-face calls and screen sharing, and collaborate in real-time, even when working remotely.
- Document Management: Teams provides a secure environment for document organization and sharing with restricted channels to limit visibility of sensitive data.
- Task Management: Built-in task management features like Planner and To Do allow users to create and assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress.
- Remote and Hybrid Work: Teams is available for almost any device and operating system, making it widely accessible to employees, wherever they are working.
- Third-Party Integrations: Teams supports integration with third-party apps, enabling organizations to customize their workflows and bring additional functionalities into the platform, tailored to their specific business needs.
- Information Security: Microsoft Teams incorporates robust security measures, including data encryption and multi-factor authentication.
- Company Culture and Engagement: Teams provides features like channels, announcements, and social interactions, fostering a sense of community and enabling employees to stay connected, engaged, and informed about company news and updates.
These benefits demonstrate how Microsoft Teams can significantly improve communication, collaboration, and overall productivity within businesses of all sizes, ultimately driving organizational success.
5 business risks of Microsoft Teams
While Microsoft Teams presents numerous advantages for business users, it is essential to be aware of potential risks that come with its usage. Five notable risks include:
- Data Leakage: The simplicity of file sharing within Teams makes the improper sharing or accidental disclosure of sensitive information easier to perform and harder to detect.
- External Collaboration: Teams users can invite external parties into the workplace ecosystem, increased the risk of potential data breaches and unauthorized data access.
- Compliance Challenges: Organizations operating in regulated industries must ensure that Teams complies with specific industry standards and regulations regarding data privacy and access permissions.
- Third-Party Vulnerabilities: Integrating third-party applications can introduce security risks if those apps have access to Teams data.
- Insider Threats: Trusted insiders with access to Teams can misuse their privileges, potentially compromising sensitive information, leaking confidential data, or disrupting business operations.
To mitigate some of these risks, Microsoft provides robust security and compliance features for Teams.
What Microsoft Teams security and compliance features are available?
Microsoft Teams incorporates several security and compliance measures to safeguard user data. These include two-factor authentication (2FA), data encryption in transit and at rest, and compliance with industry standards such as SOC 2 and ISO 27001. These support compliance with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. Teams also offers features like data loss prevention (DLP), eDiscovery, and retention policies, enabling admins to maintain control over their data and adhere to regulatory requirements.
In addition, Microsoft offers two enterprise-level subscription plans known as E3 and E5, which provide organizations with a comprehensive suite of productivity and security features. These plans enable advanced compliance, security threat management, and information security settings that are particularly relevant to organizations in highly regulated industries.
These measures matter because they increase security of sensitive data while collaborating and sharing information. However, these security measures should still be paired with the appropriate training, supported by internal policies and procedures, to ensure employees take cybersecurity seriously and protect the Teams workspace.
How to make Microsoft Teams more secure
One of the hardest risks to mitigate in Microsoft Teams is that posed by the people using it. Your employees are the new perimeter of information security, and it is essential that they understand the importance of their role in protecting confidential company data.
Free Webinar: People as the perimeter of information security
To ensure a secure environment in Microsoft Teams, organizations should enforce the following:
- Strong passwords: Unique passwords and password expiration policies prevent unauthorized access.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA): 2FA or multi-factor authentication (MFA) reduces the risk of unauthorized account access.
- End-to-end encryption: Admins can use an enhanced encryption policy to enforce end-to-end encryption for Teams meetings.
- Phishing defense: Raise awareness about phishing attacks and provide training to help users recognize and avoid suspicious emails, links, and attachments.
- External access: Evaluate and limit external user access to Teams and channels, ensuring appropriate controls are in place for data security.
Training employees on information security in Microsoft Teams is crucial for businesses as information within the Teams environment can flow more easily between users with fewer safeguards to protect sensitive data. Malicious actors may seek access to corporate Teams accounts through cyberattacks to exfiltrate company secrets, IP, and confidential information. Disgruntled insiders may also exfiltrate data using Teams, as its ability to synchronize documents across devices make it fast and easy to move information beyond the company’s control. And untrained users can make simple mistakes that introduce malware into Microsoft Teams.
Administrators can mitigate risks by reducing access to the Teams environment using Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). Azure AD features, including single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), conditional access policies, and risk-based identity protection, help ensure that only authorized users can access Teams and its associated data.
Investing in information security training for employees is an important step for businesses seeking to reduce the risk of data breaches, enhance their security posture, and build a culture of vigilance and responsibility. Ultimately, well-trained employees become a crucial asset in safeguarding sensitive information and upholding the organization's reputation and trustworthiness.
How Aware supports information security in Microsoft Teams
Aware supports security and compliance within Microsoft Teams by analyzing messages in real time to identify and remediate risky behaviors and unauthorized information sharing. Aware’s AI data platform uses industry-leading natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning workflows to detect noncompliant information-sharing using regular expression and keyword detection, and code and password identification.
Using Aware, businesses can enhance the security of their Microsoft Teams digital workplace by mitigating the risks posed by human behavior. In addition, Aware’s intelligent NLP normalizes insights for each individual organization, providing advanced notice when the risk of insider threats increase. This gives business leaders an opportunity to address problems before they become crises.
In addition to compliance and information governance management, Aware offers data loss prevention, eDiscovery, and next-generation organizational intelligence insights for Teams. All these features are also available for all other workplace collaboration tools, including Slack, Zoom, and Yammer, from an intuitive centralized dashboard.
Collaboration tools are essential for businesses in a remote and hybrid world of work, and Microsoft Teams provides numerous business benefits. However, Teams does have some security weaknesses and blind spots that organizations must address to secure their digital workplace. By implementing security best practices, educating end users, and deploying human-centric AI analysis from Aware, businesses can harness the full potential of Microsoft Teams while maintaining a secure environment for their sensitive information.