Drowning in Data, Diving into Danger: Why Folder Organization Matters for Security

February 21, 2024

It’s every Teams user’s worst nightmare: a boss reaches out to you to ask for a sales document you put together last month. You open your Sales team channel to see 25 folders, all labeled something like “sales assets” and know that you have a 10+ min search ahead of you to find what you are looking for. Sound familiar?

While this might be an annoying reality you face in Teams, it can also be a dangerous one if you don’t have the proper tools in place to limit vulnerabilities. Common Teams pitfalls include:

Access Creep: With numerous folders and extensive team memberships, it's easy for access permissions to blur. Someone added to one folder might inherit access to others they shouldn't. This creates blind spots, as sensitive information becomes inadvertently exposed to unauthorized eyes.  

Sharing Gone Wild: Individual access control is tricky enough, but throw in external collaborators (freelancers, vendors) and things get dicey, especially if they are added to folders they shouldn’t be.  

  • Accidental data sharing: Not knowing what exists in the numerous folders you have access can result in unintentional sharing of sensitive information, especially if shared with parties outside of the organization.
  • Malicious insiders: Disgruntled employees or compromised accounts can intentionally misuse their access to steal insider data, disrupt operations, or cause damage.

Visibility Vanishes: When your file landscape resembles a digital jungle, finding specific information becomes akin to a treasure hunt. Not being able to find the data can waste time or productivity when efforts are duplicated.

Malware Magnet: Cluttered folder structures offer a breeding ground for malware.  

  • Malicious links and attachments: Attackers can use shared documents, chats, and channels to distribute phishing emails or messages containing malicious links or attachments. Clicking on these can lead to malware downloads, credential theft, or unauthorized access to data.
  • Imposter accounts: Attackers can create fake accounts mimicking legitimate users to trick others into revealing sensitive information or granting access to data.
  • Data exfiltration: Hackers can exploit user negligence or weak security settings to steal confidential information stored in Teams, such as documents, chats, or recordings.

Inadequate Security Measures: When Teams users aren’t being responsible with their personal security, opportunities for hackers becomes more widely available.

  • Weak passwords and authentication: Stop bringing back the password you created in high school that you’ve used for every app purchase, online shopping account, etc. Users with weak passwords or lacking multi-factor authentication are vulnerable to brute-force attacks and account takeovers.
  • Unsecured personal devices: Using personal devices (read: not your work laptop) on the Teams network without proper security measures can introduce vulnerabilities.  
  • Public Wi-Fi: Don’t connect to that convenient Starbucks wifi (don’t worry, we’ve all been guilty of this). Connecting to Teams on public Wi-Fi networks leaves data vulnerable to eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

What can be done to protect data?

While possible security exposure seems extensive, it’s simple to safeguard data. Be aware of who is in each channel and follow the principle of “least privilege” – ask yourself: what is the least amount of access someone needs to be able to do their job effectively? Furthermore, when working in Teams, make sure your own personal security is up to snuff – use strong passwords, multi-factor authentication and work devices.  

Looking for a little extra protection? Try installing an AI assistant to give your company piece of mind that if malware or other common security threats were to occur in your company’s Teams, you would catch it immediately.

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