The Definitive Guide to Microsoft SharePoint Security

Amir Shingray
Amir Shingray
August 28, 2019 | Office 365

The Definitive Guide to SharePoint Security

These days, security is crucial, especially when storing information on the cloud or working in cloud-based environments. Since Office 365 is cloud-based, then security is highly critical to business reputation and financial standing. While there are in-built security features in Office 365, including SharePoint Online, it boils down to how you manage them. How and who you share your data with is ultimately your responsibility with. There are ways to manage and keep your Office 365 and SharePoint environments secure, and we have suggested them below.

Backups
Permissions
Training
Security Groups
Content sharing
Internal and external web assets
Device Security

Backups

SharePoint stand-alone or SharePoint Online is a tool designed for collaboration. When working in Office 365, SharePoint Online stores all your documents in OneDrive. OneDrive or OneDrive for Business, like Google Drive, is a cloud storage solution which is built to be reliable and secure. However, even similar cloud storage solutions like Dropbox have been compromised. For that reason, it's essential to keep several backups of your data, especially if it is used for collaboration. Have your collaborators keep backups besides yourself. This way, everyone has a spare copy for use in case of any data leaks. Local backups on hard drives are recommended as well, which could be a personal copy of each collaborator. These could be regular PC drives, external drives, or flash drives. While working in the cloud eliminates the need for physical media, it's always recommended to keep a local backup just in case you need to revert to it.

Permissions

This is where your responsibility comes in. The software isn't responsible for assigning the correct permissions in the SharePoint environment. This is because the power is entirely in your hands. You and your team need to have enough faith in each other, so its best to assign permissions accordingly. In any enterprise, team, or group, the appropriate supervisor needs to know what permissions and functionality to assign to each user. He or she is also responsible for monitoring each team member and ensuring they are sticking to their assigned roles. 

Training

Not every person in your organization, group, or team may be well-versed with SharePoint or even Office 365. It's the responsibility of leaders in every organization to make sure everyone using Office 365 and SharePoint knows how to use it and is adequately trained. If every team member is adequately trained, then there are fewer risks or chances of security compromises. Each person should be taught properly and make sure there are periodic sessions of enterprise security for the entire organization. 

Security Groups

IT administrators, team leaders and supervisors need to assign different users into their own security groups. This way, each security groups have their own protocols and limitations. This also amounts to fewer security breaches. Security goes hand in hand with control. IT admins need to decide how much control to give each individual or user group. While permissions can be assigned, its also best to have everyone in their security group for an additional layer of protection. The best way to assign user groups is to assign them as either owners, members, or visitors. Owners are those that have complete control, especially of a website or a project. They decide how it looks and appears to others. Members are those that contribute to the site or project. They could be editors or contributors. Now, visitors could be regular people visiting the website or viewing the project. The visitors would not have any say in how the site looks, feels, or what content goes on it. 

Content sharing

This once again goes back to the aspect of control. The person who has control decides if the SharePoint group members can share content outside of the group. If content sharing is allowed, then you decide who among the user group can share and what content can be shared. The group administrator sets these permissions. Another critical factor to consider when you're sharing content outside of the group, what permissions do those individuals have, and how can they use the content. Are they allowed to share it? These are essential things to consider. It's always important to keep extra checks on content sharing of sensitive or confidential information. 

Internal and external web assets

SharePoint sites are full of content. Now this content could be text and images. When using images, make sure they're stored locally and not sourced from elsewhere. You don't know how trustworthy the source is. It's better to import the images in your local document library and then share so you can verify their safety before they get published. Security breaches can happen for any reason, so you have to be extra cautious. Make sure you internalize external web assets, check them for any threats, and then upload them on the SharePoint site. One rule of thumb is that you can never be too secure or two sure, so its best to be a bit overcautious than not. 

Device Security

Device security is crucial. SharePoint and Office 365 can be accessed and used on all compatible devices. Compact and portable devices like smartphones and tablets can be compromised if not appropriately protected. One should keep their phones and tablets locked at all times. Whether its pattern, password, pin, or even fingerprints, your device should always stay locked when not in use. There are also apps you can download that can lock individual folders and apps if you lend your phone to someone else. This way, you can have a peace of mind that when your phone is not in use, it's not being used by someone else. Device security is crucial, so keep it locked and secure at all times. Just be careful not to get locked out yourself so there should be a balance between a complicated pattern or passcode and something only you would know. Fingerprints provide an additional layer of security.

Conclusion

SharePoint security, in and outside of Office 365, is crucial. Whether it's a site or a collaborative project, you need to set the appropriate permissions, assign user groups, roles, security groups, and so on. Other than that, content sharing needs to be monitored. External assets should be internalized, and devices should always be locked when not in use. Remember, your SharePoint site and project security are ultimately in your hands.


 

Infowise

Infowise is a leading provider of forms and processes solutions for the Microsoft SharePoint platform. We provide solutions to a broad spectrum of industries, including and not limited to, financial services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, educational institutes, scientific research entities, Global NGO's, governments; local municipal, regional and national. Our applications are widely used in the transportation sector, including airlines, ground transportation, and port authorities. As authors of productivity and agility software, we're pleased, yet not surprised that these global businesses have adopted our tools in their daily productivity cycles. Our flagship package Infowise Ultimate Forms is an integrated suite of SharePoint components that enables users to create advanced, dynamic forms, sophisticated business processes and striking visualization.

UltimateForms supports all Microsoft SharePoint platforms, including Office 365 and all on-premises SharePoint versions.

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