Microsoft Teams is one of the most popular collaboration tools used in small and medium-sized businesses. Even before the onset of the pandemic, this natural extension of the Microsoft Office suite made it easy for employees to conduct video meetings, share and coauthor documents, and keep information organized.
But even though Microsoft is a world leader in building software that incorporates enterprise-grade security, that doesn’t guarantee that Teams is free of potential security risks. Many of the same security challenges that have long plagued emails and websites can also affect the Teams application, placing users at risk of being exposed to phishing attempts, malware, and other digital threats.
Here are four tips to help eliminate potential Microsoft Teams security issues:
Use trusted third-party applications
Teams makes it easy to integrate third-party apps that extend the functionality of the platform. Whether it’s a task planner, a meeting tracker or a tool to build better collaborative relationships, app extensions allow organizations to get the most out of their Teams experience.
Although virtually any developer can craft a Teams app, it’s important to manage access to third-party apps at the admin level in order to prevent users from accessing unauthorized apps. Allowing users to install apps that haven’t been fully vetted can leave data vulnerable to third-party solutions that don’t have strong network security.
One of the best ways to ward off dangerous third-party apps is to only choose apps that have the official Microsoft 365 Certification. Certified apps have been vetted by trusted security analysts, ensuring that the app or add-in protects private data within the Teams and greater Office environments.
Restrict guest access
Teams makes it easy to collaborate with users inside and outside of an organization. For companies that rely on contractors, outside vendors, or other external stakeholders who need to easily communicate within a team, guest access allows for simple sharing with users without a business-specific account.
By default, however, guest access in Teams is turned off. That’s because, as an organization-wide setting, turning on guest access without accounting for proper security can leave networks vulnerable to unauthorized access.
In instances in which guest access is absolutely necessary, be sure to establish proper protocols that limit guest permissions and access to greater company information. A secure guest sharing environment can also automatically restrict outside users from viewing sensitive and classified information.
Employ multi-factor authentication
Simply possessing a strong password isn’t enough for proper security. Between data breaches and password fatigue, there are simply too many ways in which a leaked or lost password can result in unauthorized users gaining access to critical company information.
Multi-factor authentication builds on the password with additional layers of user verification. By prompting a user to confirm their identity through an authentication app, single-use code, or physical device that’s plugged into a computer, organizations can better ensure that an account hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands.
Organizations should take advantage of Teams’ single sign-on capabilities to provide powerful and secure modern authentication. As users rely on Teams across a variety of different computing devices like laptops and smartphones, requiring multi-factor authentication can keep the Teams experience secure and restrict users from accessing apps on unauthorized devices.
Educate Staff on Teams Security Best Practices
Discuss with your team members about security awareness and that MS Teams is ideal for fast communication between staff but it’s important they keep basic security practices in mind when using the collaboration tool. If they are unsure if it’s safe to share a sensitive document, let them know it’s best to err on the side of caution. If you need to share confidential information, consider doing this outside MS Teams using another secure system.
Monitor User Activity
As with other Microsoft 365 products, you can monitor user activity within Teams, which includes user logins, permission changes, team membership changes, installation of apps, and any file sharing that takes place across public or private channels.
Use Office 365 Security
As part of the Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscription, Teams grants organizations access to the full set of Office 365 Security features. These advanced security capabilities provide simple, automatic access to critical security features that can better safeguard proprietary information.
Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), for instance, filters out malware, ransomware, and harmful links, which can help prevent Teams users from opening dangerous links or attachments. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) can also automatically identify sensitive information and prevent it from being shared or improperly accessed.
By taking advantage of the powerful security features included with a Business Premium subscription, organizations can keep Teams users from making mistakes that could jeopardize the integrity of a device, account, or network.