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Microsoft Teams Strategies: 3 How-tos on Hardening Microsoft Teams Security

In the last article, we talked about the pitfalls and different solutions to control teams sprawl. This time we will put the focus on the protection of security when the usage of this platform is spinning up fast.

Again, the higher level of ownership users is given over Microsoft Teams, the more successful the adoption is. While users start switching to Microsoft Teams because of its comprehensive features for business collaborations, a lax approach to governance might lead to data security risks.

Why is Microsoft Teams governance critical to data security?

Microsoft Teams is built with all the Microsoft security best practices and compliance standard. However, without proper governance, some user activities might have unintentionally exposed your organization sensitive information.

  • Data Leak: Sensitive information might fall into the wrong hands as people outside the organization can be added as guest in teams and given the access to chats, applications and documents in channels

  • Data Breach: The availability to download any third-party apps to users' own environment creates vulnerabilities that can cause serious security issues like exposing confidential data or PII

  • Shadow IT: Users switch to applications outside of those authorized by the organization which lead to security problems like improper monitoring and insecure data transferring

To better protect your organization from security threats, here are three best practices to strengthen the security of Microsoft Teams by managing how your users use it.

3 How-tos on Strengthening Microsoft Teams Security

How to control users granting external guests rights to join teams?

By default, all users are allowed to invite external parties to teams, giving them access to documents, chats, channels and applications, which can lead to data leak of sensitive information.

Here are 3 options to manage external access:

  1. Educate users: Remind users of what kind of information and content should be kept confidential if there are external guests present in their teams.

  2. Configure at a global level: Turn off the capability of users granting external access in either the Microsoft Teams admin center or Azure Active Directory. Alternatively, keep the guest access feature available and adjust what features external guests are allowed to use in your Teams environment. IT team can also leverage sensitive labels created in the admin center to let users create teams with a specific privacy setting to control guest access on a team-by-team basis.

  3. Control external access by templates: With third-party app, enable users to create teams with templates that are already preconfigured with external user policy that help secure whether your users can or cannot add external access based on different purposes of teams they create.

(Configurations in Microsoft Teams Admin Center)

How to manage third-party apps?

Microsoft Teams allow users to download apps to their own teams environment to facilitate collaboration. Even though Microsoft has helped blocked malicious apps with its security controls, non-malicious apps that have security vulnerabilities left unpatched can still expose your organization contact list, emails and other sensitive data.

Here are 2 options to protect your organization against vulnerable third-party apps:

  1. Define the list of approved apps to be integrated: Decide which apps to stay available for users to download for a better and secure collaboration experience. In the Microsoft Teams admin center, you can manage app permission for specific apps on a one-by-one basis to certain users or groups.

  2. Identify which apps users need: Start with blocking all apps and set up an approval flow to let users submit requests for apps that are essential for their collaboration in Microsoft Teams. After accessing the security vulnerability of those requested apps, you can add them to your organization's catalog. Your users can leverage Microsoft Approvals app to create an approval flow in Microsoft Teams so they can easily submit and track the status of their approval requests.

How to eliminate shadow IT with Microsoft Teams?

What is shadow IT? When users' needs are not met with the existing systems and technologies provided by their organization, they will simply resort to other handy software and applications – and this gives rise to shadow IT.

We always advise organizations to well utilize Microsoft Teams on the strength of its variety of useful tools that help users work efficiently without the need to jump around multiple apps, which is a key strategy to prevent shadow IT and enhance the security protection for the organization.

While we encourage the use of Microsoft Teams for maximized productivity and engagement, we do not hope to see IT teams being overwhelmed with the day-to-day administration and management. What is equally important, we want to help organizations avoid their adoption of Microsoft Teams entering a decline, becoming a digital wasteland eventually, or posing any security risks to the IT environment.

Streamline Governance with Digital Workplace App

With a proper governance strategy implemented through digital workplace app like Powell Teams, you can streamline governance to control Teams sprawl effectively and strengthen the security of this platform - making Microsoft Teams a secure essential hub for communication and collaboration with both internal and external parties. On one hand, users no longer have to switch to other unauthorized software causing shadow IT; on the other hand, Microsoft Teams management does not become a burden to you.

Talk to our digital workplace specialists to learn more about Microsoft Teams and its governance.


About KBQuest

As a global digital transformation consulting firm with more than 1,300 professionals, KBQuest transforms clients’ digital journeys by committing to their success.

With our extensive industry experience and a strong track record in Cloud, Analytics and Digitalization, we tailor end-to-end digital strategies to transform businesses. Our consultation, strategy development, solution implementation and managed services empower clients to achieve their business goals through technology.

We guide businesses to outperform the competition.


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