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How Microsoft Teams Keeps Your Data Secure

Mike Hanks
July 10, 2020

When dealing with the cloud, there are plenty of good reasons to be concerned about security. What’s happening to your data when you can’t see it? Who else can see it? Can anyone use your data? If so, how is it being used?

Even amid all the uncertainties that come from cloud systems, Microsoft Teams is among the most secure. Your data will remain safe in transit and at rest with the right setup and governance.

Main Security Concerns in Microsoft Teams

Teams is fundamentally changing the way people work. However, one thing that doesn’t change is the need for the system to remain secure. There are three major concerns when it comes to Teams’ security. Fortunately, Microsoft has an answer for each one.

Data Protection and Lifecycle Management

Data may not be visible or tangible, but it’s important to every individual and organization who collect it. It remains a focal point of concern especially when it comes to how the data is collected and used.

Google and Facebook collect data to funnel their far-reaching online advertisement machines. Breaches can result in data unintentionally being made available to the public. Your data needs to be carefully managed in order to prevent breaches and leaks.

Microsoft’s applications are made with the protection of your data in mind. They have built-in compliance with standards such as HIPAA. They also have authentication protocols including organization-wide two-factor authentication or single sign-on through Active Directory. This makes it increasingly difficult for unauthorized users to enter the system.

Where Microsoft truly excels is in data encryption. Data sent by Teams users is encrypted end-to-end in transit and at rest. Microsoft doesn’t manage this encryption through Teams. Instead, it is done through their security applications, Azure and Active Directory. This allows your IT team to have greater control over the processing and encryption of your data.

Microsoft Teams on Mobile Device

eDiscovery

Many legal proceedings require access to Electronically Stored Information (ESI). This makes eDiscovery a prime concern for most organizations. ESI is abundant in Teams' many chats and channels. The chat messages and calls can be difficult to sort through in the event of a legal proceeding.

Teams has features such as Legal Hold, Audit Log, and Content Search to allow users to efficiently manage eDiscovery cases. These cases can be made for any kind of legal investigation. They combine with Teams’ content search tool to make the process streamlined and effective.

ESI in Teams can also be placed under a Legal Hold. The two types of Holds offered are In-Place and Litigation. They allow users to place a hold on a user's mailbox. This will allow access to any given data even after it's deleted.

Guest Access and External Users

There will be times when you’ll need to let guests into your network to collaborate on various projects. However, a high number of users and guests could make your Teams channels a cluttered mess.

Teams differentiates between guests, members, and admin. Each of these roles come with its own set of privileges and can help keep external users in check. This is especially true when it comes to the creation of Teams channels.

External users or users from a domain different from the one associated with Teams only have access to calls and chat. The ability for external users to join Teams is enabled by default, but domains can be blocked to prevent unwanted visitors.

In contrast, guests have more privileges than external users including meetings, messaging, and file sharing. Their guest account will be added to Active Directory. However, their access to data in Teams determined by the admin.

With these provisions in place, your data will remain secure even as guests and external users access your server.

Microsoft Teams Phone Lock

Best Practices for Microsoft Teams Security

Security issues in Microsoft Teams are often governance issues. The following security best practices will help improve governance and tighten security in Teams.

Global Teams Management

Global settings in Teams will allow you to determine the privileges of certain users throughout your entire organization. This includes the ability to create new teams.

With these global settings, you are able to configure which users can communicate with individuals outside of the organization. You can also determine which users have access to cloud storage and what authentication factors are required for meetings.

Information Protection Architecture

Information Protection Architecture, such as eDiscovery, is crucial to prevent data leakage and preserve evidence. You can use data retention policies to determine which data to keep and which to remove in accordance with litigation. You can also enable Advanced Threat Protection to ward off malicious content.

User Activity Audit

Usage analytics in Teams permits you to audit user activity to monitor chats and channels on Teams. Teams’ built-in analytics features can generate a user report of the past 24 hours. This report charts data across all users. It collects 1:1 call data, channel messages, meeting attendance, chat messages, audio time, video time, and more.

Getting Started with Microsoft Teams

Teams’ security is among the best with the right setup and governance. It will enable your users to communicate with one another without needing to worry about cyber threats or legal problems.

At Continuant, we understand how detailed a Teams deployment can be. For more than 25 years, we've helped companies across the globe complete their journey to Microsoft Teams. We even won the 2020 Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for Calling and Meetings.

Ready to take the first step? Schedule a free 30-minute technology assessment today to begin designing and deploying your Microsoft solution.

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* Editor's Note: This article was originally published in July 2020 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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