Microsoft Teams has eclipsed all other communication platforms over recent years, growing from 2 million active users in 2017 to 145 million active users on a daily basis within April 2021. As a platform that brings teams together for easy and direct communication, Microsoft Teams has become a platform that is used by businesses around the globe to streamline communication and ensure that messages are delivered effectively.
While Microsoft Teams comes with a range of security features built into its framework, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is completely secure. Considering that as recently as April 2022, CyberArk exposed a weak point in Microsoft Teams security that completely bypassed all of their constructed defenses, it’s always a good idea to educate your team on how to stay safe despite the inherent cybersecurity that Teams employs.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at three easy steps that your admins and users can take to ensure your Microsoft Teams environment is as safe as it can be. We’ll be covering:
- Multi-Factor Authentication
- Constructing Privileges For Users
- Managing Unmanaged Devices
Let’s get right into it!
Multifactor authentication, also known as MFA, is a technique that requires users to confirm their identity from another device before they can log on. The method they use to confirm their identity can vary, although there are typically three distinct pathways:
- Number Code – On a mobile or another connected device, an authenticator app will display a numeric code that the user will then have to type in, confirming that they have access to the devices and are the person that owns the account
- Biometrics – On another device, users are asked to verify their identity with an element of biometric information. Most commonly, this is a quick face scan or thumbprint scan, demonstrating that they are who they claim they are and then be granted access to the account.
- Password – When attempting to log in to an account, a user may be asked to confirm their identity by answering a security question that they set for themselves. IF they get the question right, they will gain access to the account.
Whichever form of multifactor authentication is used, the objective is to ensure that even if a user lost access to their password, a hacker still wouldn’t be able to gain access to the account.
Within Microsoft Teams, there is actually an option to directly set up a multifactor authentication pathway for all users on the system. While some people find this additional step frustrating, a bit of frustration is always better than having your business accounts corrupted due to the mistakes of one employee.
You can directly download an MFA and set it up within Microsoft Teams within the Active Directory on your Admin account. Take a read of this guide by Teams for more information.
Constructing Effective User Permissions
Part of ensuring effective Microsoft Teams security across all of your employee accounts is actually through enforcing an element of restriction within the accounts that log into your space. One way of restricting what individual users can see on their Teams account is to create permissions for each user.
Within Microsoft Teams, you can create certain bands of privilege for different users. Once an employee gets a promotion or a new one is welcomed to the team, you’ll be able to quickly change the permissions associated with that account to ensure that people only have access to what they’re meant to see.
This banded system of permissions is the easiest to configure, taking a moment to set up and then being directly applied to all the accounts within the system. You’re also able to change individual permissions on Microsoft Teams, changing what a user has access to and limiting the documents that they can see or download.
With these permissions in place, if a hacker were to gain access to an account within your system, they would be limited to seeing only what that account has the privilege of seeing. Instead of then having access to the whole system, they would be incredibly limited, dramatically reducing the critical impact of someone gaining entry to an account.
Be sure to continually update and change the permissions that are given to different accounts, changing them with staff changes. Always deactivate an account if an employee leaves the company, as this will help to limit the size of your attack surface.
Managing Unmanaged Devices
In the age of remote working, it’s becoming increasingly common to find that employees access work content with their personal devices. Whether that be logging in with their phone and sending a message or downloading a file to their personal computer, there are many ways that employees can blur the lines between professional and private.
If you’re attempting to create as secure a network as possible on Microsoft Teams, then one effective way you can do so is to limit the access of unmanaged devices. An unmanaged device is anything that’s not directly connected to your work systems, or issued and checked by your IT department.
If you’re a company that gives out a device for work use, then this is an excellent idea as it will ensure that only people who actually work at the company can access the files on your Teams system. This will stop hackers that gain access to an account from downloading any important information, as they don’t have access to a company device.
Microsoft Teams is a wonderful tool, helping all of your employees to stay in touch and creating fluid communication pathways for them to take advantage of. While Teams does indeed have their own layers of security, these are not as effective as taking a holistic approach.
By combining the security defenses that are inherent to Teams with those that we’ve listed above, you’re able to construct an impenetrable system. With this, you’ll be keeping your employees and all of your company data as safe as possible when online.