It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Microsoft Teams is the number one collaboration tool that employees rely on globally for their communication needs. According to recent data from Statista, the number of daily active users of Microsoft Teams nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022. In 2021, the collaboration software boasted an impressive 145 million users. In 2022, that figure reached 270 million!
As more and more companies embrace the hybrid and remote work era and lean on organizations like TeamMate to simplify their communications, we can expect to see a surge in Microsoft Teams users. However, despite its various benefits, a question you might be asking, and rightfully so, is if it’s secure. That answer is a resounding yes!
With cybercrime on the rise and an outpouring of sensitive data into a collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams, it could be the perfect storm for criminals to hack your sensitive information. For those on edge, recent data from the University of Maryland validates those fears – they found that hackers attack, on average, every 39 seconds, and an estimated 33 billion accounts will be breached this year alone. Fortunately, you can rest easy knowing your data is safe when adopting a critical tool like Microsoft Teams. Below, we’ll discuss Microsoft Teams security and the benefits your organization can expect when using it.
Microsoft Teams: Just How Secure Is It?
Collaboration is fundamental to business success. More than half of American workers surveyed said their job relies on it, which means no one should worry about their data getting hacked when collaborating with colleagues. The tools we rely upon the most must provide solid protection against phishing attempts, malware, or ransom attacks.
Fortunately, Microsoft Teams is an application you can fully rely on to be safe. It’s actually considered one of the most secure business communication and collaboration apps due to its advanced security and compliance capabilities. In fact, when compared to its competitor, Google Meets, Teams was considered the more secure option of the two.
Why is that? Well, according to Microsoft, Teams follows all the security best practices and procedures, such as service-level security through defense-in-depth, customer controls within the service, security hardening, and operational best practices. Microsoft Teams security is the superior option because it’s built in accordance with Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Security Development Lifecycle (SDL), a vital component of the Trustworthy Computing Initiative.
SDL is a process that standardizes best practices and allows developers to decrease the risk and severity of vulnerabilities in software. To put it in layman’s terms, SDL assists in ensuring that software is designed and developed with privacy and safety at the forefront.
The Secret Sauce: The Built-In Security Benefits in Microsoft Teams that Handle Threats
The team at Microsoft worked tirelessly to develop an application that defended against attacks and potential breaches. Fortunately, that hard work paid off, and Microsoft integrated various features into the most popular collaboration app to ensure your data remains safe. Let’s dive in below.
End-to-End Encryption (E2EE)
End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is defined as a secure communication process that stops third parties from accessing data transferred from one endpoint to another. Microsoft Teams uses E2EE to protect third parties from accessing video, voice, and screen-sharing data. When both parties enable encryption, Microsoft cannot intercept or read the data – only the receiver can decrypt the data. Your data is encrypted when in transit and when sitting in Microsoft data centers.
Microsoft groups its Office 365 products into four communication categories – A, B, C, and D. D is considered the highest level of compliance, which is where Teams falls and covers the following:
- ISO 27018
- ISO 27001
- EU Model Clauses (EUMC)
- SSAE16 SOC 1 and SOC 2
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Transport Layer Security (TLS)
Microsoft Teams security is built on what is known as Transport Layer Security (TLS), meaning it prevents eavesdropping. It helps encrypt messages, files, meetings, and other data when at rest or in transit. To guarantee the safety of all communication, TLS utilizes certificates from the Certificate Authority, which show the identity of each server in the communication. Doing so prevents something called “man-in-the-middle attacks.”
Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)
Azure AD enables administrators to manage identities. This includes who’s allowed to do what and what users there are. These services include access management, core directory, and identity protection. With Azure AD, administrators can figure out what information will stay in the cloud and who can manage it without logging in continuously. Azure AD also allows for single sign-on, conditional access to policies, and multifactor authentication.
Another unique Microsoft Teams security feature is Activity Report, which is where admins can gain valuable insights into how users engage within the software. It enables you to see the overview of individual users’ activities, such as the amount of time they spend on the chat and the meetings they organize.
Microsoft Teams has also been fitted with an impressive monitoring feature that allows the administrators to monitor the conversations that occur within the application. The admin can register keywords that trigger an alert if they’re used. With this feature, users must use a specific word to get flagged. Monitoring can only be done manually, and all parties must provide consent.
Microsoft Teams Security Best Practices and Tips
Now that we’ve done an extensive dive into the security features Teams offers, the next step is what you can do to protect yourself and your business. It’s imperative that you only allow authorized users to access your organization’s Team platform. You can take control of this in the following ways:
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) through Active Directory.
- Prevent file download to unmanaged devices.
- Address threats.
- External User access should be restricted.
- Only allow approved applications.
- Create data loss prevention policies.
- Restrict Teams creation.
- Restrict automatic meeting admittance.
- Enforce safe links and safe attachments.
- Block 3rd party file storage.
Implementing effective security measures in Microsoft Teams is critical to safeguarding your information and your organization’s privacy. Although Microsoft has developed one of the most secure applications on the planet, it’s imperative that you remain vigilant against potential threats. By prioritizing your security, you can confidently leverage this powerful collaboration tool while keeping your communications and data safe.
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