Secure your Collaboration Tools - Extra Measures are Important

Collaboration software has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, and with good reason. These tools make it simple and easy for teams to tackle a wide range of general or specialized tasks, whether in the office, from home, or anywhere else. For example, in the months following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a 176% increase in collaboration apps installed on enterprise devices.

Several years on and collaboration tools have become essential to how we work. Tools like Microsoft 365, Slack, Asana, Trello, G Suite, Zoom, and many more have enabled modern businesses to thrive. However, with new technology comes new risks. Collaboration tools have become a lucrative target for cybercriminals. Moreover, trusting that the tools you use have robust built-in security measures leaves you vulnerable to attack. With this in mind, let's dive into why it's so crucial to take extra measures to safeguard your network when using collaboration tools.

Why Securing Collaboration Tools is Vital

Here's the bottom line. When introducing new technology into your organization, you expand the attack surface - the number of possible entry points attackers can exploit to infiltrate your systems and exfiltrate your data. Unfortunately, these new entry points can be as numerous as they are varied and maintaining control over your security becomes challenging. Now, let's look at some specific ways collaboration tools can put your security at risk.

  • Increasingly, software developers don't create new software from scratch. Instead, they use multiple off-the-shelf components and third-party APIs to deliver next-level functionality at rapid speed. And while this isn't inherently bad, it opens the doors for code vulnerabilities across many different apps. This is one of the things hackers leverage for supply chain attacks.
  • Collaboration tools encourage employees to communicate and share documents via chat. Often these communications are stored in a central location, making them a prime target for hackers.
  • Collaboration tools may allow employees to access a broader spectrum of company data more easily. This vastly increases the chances that data can be leaked, stolen, or mishandled.
  • Shadow IT (when employees use apps and devices not sanctioned by the IT team) is a growing problem. Experts think this spike in shadow IT is likely due to workers' comfort level with using so many different apps.
  • While most collaboration tools implement some of their own security measures, they're often not comprehensive, leaving huge gaps in security.
  • Collaboration tools can present a significant challenge for archiving solutions, and as a result, organizations lose visibility into the exchange of documents and conversations happening on collaboration apps. This can be a logistical nightmare for legal and compliance officers.

What Extra Measures Should You Take?

Despite the security risks, collaboration tools offer countless benefits to organizations. So, how do you keep your collaboration tools safe while ensuring the bad actors are locked out of your network?

Establish Strong Security Policies

IT security policies outline the rules and procedures for accessing and protecting your IT assets and resources. They typically cover a wide range of topics, including access control, data classification, identification and authorization, remote access, encryption, patching, employee onboarding/offboarding, and more. Without a strong security policy, you're operating in the dark and leaving plenty of security holes for bad actors to exploit. It's also important to note that security policies aren't static - they need updated as new threats and ways of working emerge.

Enlist the Help of Reputable Security Providers and Tools

The native security features in collaboration apps are often lackluster. Instead, it's best to use professional cybersecurity providers or tools. The major advantage here is expertise. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and technology is developing rapidly. As a result, in-house security teams often struggle to keep up. By enlisting the help of dedicated cybersecurity experts, you get access to top-of-the-line cybersecurity practices, innovation, and tools that get you on the way to making your network an impenetrable fortress.

Cultivate a Security-Conscious Workforce

Cybercriminals know that employees can often be the weakest link in your cybersecurity. Social engineering attacks remain one of the primary forms of attack for bad actors, and the best way to combat their effectiveness is with employee training. When workers are wise to the signs of an attack, know who to report to, and what to do if they fall victim to a bad actor, hackers have significantly less power in this game.

Wrapping Up

Collaboration tools are here to stay, but if we want to keep experiencing the benefits of these increasingly powerful emerging apps, we need to start getting serious about their risks. It's entirely possible to have a thriving stack of collaboration apps and ironclad security; you just need to follow the tips on this list.

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