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web collaboration

Are Collaboration Tools Putting Your Sensitive Data at Risk?

The business value of collaboration is evident when you consider the popularity and increased adoption of video conferencing, data and desktop sharing, chat, instant messaging, whiteboard, scheduling, and other collaboration applications. With workers becoming more mobile and geographically dispersed, the ability to seamlessly collaborate is a competitive differentiator.

However, the sharing of information on virtually any device using a wide range of applications creates security and regulatory compliance risks. In fact, a recent survey from Egress found that 83 percent of security professionals believe their organization’s employees have accidentally compromised sensitive data. When asked to name the five most common technologies that led to these breaches, file-sharing services, collaboration tools and messaging apps ranked third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Risks Associated with Collaboration

The risk of data exposure increases exponentially when employees use consumer-grade collaboration tools. Because employees often use them without the knowledge or permission of IT, activity on these apps can’t be monitored. Many consumer-grade applications don’t satisfy industry regulations for security, which can lead to costly compliance violations.

Most organizations aren’t protecting their collaboration tools as well as they protect other areas of their IT environment. Malicious URLs, attachments and IP addresses could be shared frequently across a large user base, quickly spreading threats throughout various systems and departments. For the sake of monitoring and record-keeping, organizations often choose not to encrypt data, which increases the risk of exposure.

Of course, humans will always be the weakest security link. Accidental sharing of sensitive data or misuse of collaboration tools can cause user accounts and devices to be compromised. Hackers will use social engineering to convince users to share confidential information or unknowingly spread malware. For organizations that haven’t established access permissions based on the principle of least privilege, a single employee mistake can result in massive exposure and loss of sensitive data.

How to Make Collaboration More Secure

Even if users are aware of your security policies, behaviors don’t always align with policies. To close this gap, organizations should integrate security tools that provide various levels of control. For example, user access to systems and data should be limited only to those resources required to do their job, and a user’s ability to share data should be governed by your security policies. At the same time, there should be a simple process to request and grant exceptions to these policies to prevent users from finding workarounds on their own.

Monitoring of user activity with collaboration tools will not only allow you to detect inappropriate activity and security threats, but it will also serve as a deterrent for risky user behavior. Administrators will be able to view a trail of activity and reassess access control policies and user permissions.

Cisco Webex Teams

Cisco Webex Teams offers built-in, integrated security features, including end-to-end encryption of all messages, files and even whiteboard drawings. Team spaces can be kept private by only allowing moderators to add participants, while integration with data loss prevention tools protects data and controls file sharing, even when users are working with people outside the organization. If a device is lost or stolen, admins can remotely lock down the device and wipe data.

Collaboration is critical to business success but it must be done securely. Let us show you how Cisco Webex Teams helps you work collaboratively without putting your sensitive data at risk.


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