The Challenge of Making Regulated Data Both Available and Secure

When it comes to collaboration, the more available your data is to your employees, the less secure it is. Many organisations struggle to strike a balance between ensuring that employees have instant access to the data they need to do their jobs while shielding sensitive data from unauthorised users.

With more organisations turning to consumer-friendly cloud collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Drive to enable employees to work from home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it's becoming increasingly difficult to protect private data from unauthorised individuals.

A key reason for this is that these platforms aren't built with enterprise-grade security in mind and have significant vulnerabilities that leave the messages and files shared by employees open to third-party access.

Increased Vulnerabilities with Third-party Administrator Access

While cloud collaboration platforms enable employees to work together remotely conveniently, they have a number of vulnerabilities that leave shared information vulnerable to third parties.

One of the main problems is that solutions like Slack, Teams, and Google Drive store decryption keys on the service provider's servers, where administrators can access them and use them to decrypt your encrypted communications.

This access creates further problems because it provides cyber criminals with an incentive to target the providers' administrative systems so they can harvest decryption keys en masse and exfiltrate the private data of lots of organisations at once.

Unfortunately, many organisations place too much trust in the ability of service providers to protect their data. This is a mistake, as the complexity of cyber threats makes data breaches difficult to prevent. In fact, in 66% of supply chain attacks, suppliers didn't know or failed to report on how they were compromised.

In other words, the lack of encryption and the high likelihood of third-party access means that cloud collaboration and file-sharing platforms aren't viable solutions for balancing the availability and security of your data.

Limited Access Controls

It’s important to note that lack of encryption is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the vulnerabilities of consumer-focused cloud collaboration platforms. Another challenge that these solutions share is the lack of user access controls to determine who has permission to access stored data.

For example, when using Teams, employees can access stored files through OneDrive and SharePoint Online, with limited access controls making it difficult to ensure that only authorised users have access to protected information.

It's not uncommon for users to be unable to see who has access to the information shared on a particular channel. This poor transparency is made worse by the fact that employees will often freely share sensitive information on Teams under the assumption that it's encrypted and thus safe from third-party access.

This results in a collaborative environment where employees have access to files without authorisation, granting insider threats and intruders access to a higher volume of files than they would if the organisation had user access controls to enforce the law of least privilege.

Poor User Authentication

Another key issue with these platforms is that they rely on usernames, passwords, 2FA, and MFA to authenticate users. This is a problem because cyber criminals can harvest login credentials with phishing attempts and brute force hacks.

Just last year, up to 50,000 Office 365 users were targeted by a phishing campaign that notified the recipient about a “missed chat,” with a link to “Reply in Teams” that took them to a phishing site that impersonated the Microsoft login page and harvested the victim’s Office 365 login credentials.

While it's easy for users to log in with a username and password to access files and messages, it's not a secure option and shouldn't be considered as a reliable option for sharing regulated data.

Making Data Available and Secure with the HighSide Platform

The HighSide Platform keeps your data available and secure by providing you with a user-friendly, end-to-end encrypted environment where employees can share messages and files free from third-party access, whether they're on Windows, Mac OS, Ubuntu, iOS, or Android devices.

Users can upload documents to SecureDrive via drag-and-drop and collaborate with other users with the help of version control and file sync to maximise productivity in a way that's GDPR, ITAR, EAR, CMMC, and HIPPA compliant. Users can also mark files or folders as "read-only" to prevent other users from making unauthorised changes.

HighSide’s geo-location restrictions, based on RF signal triangulation, also give teams complete control over who, what, where, and when other users can access data. This enables them to determine the devices and location where users can access certain channels, chats, or files.

The HighSide Platform also integrates with Active Directory and other identity management tools that you can be used to implement access rules, manage user access, and enforce security policies.

In addition, when using the HighSide platform, all users are completely protected from phishing attacks due to HighSide's passwordless authentication, which gives each user a cryptographically unique decryption key to handshake with the platform and login.

Sharing Regulated Data Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

Sharing data in a way that's available and secure has long remained a pain point for many organisations, but with the HighSide Platform, it doesn't have to be difficult. The platform has everything users need to work remotely on projects and collaborate without worrying about eavesdroppers and unauthorised third parties.

Want to find out how the HighSide platform can help your team collaborate securely? Request a demo today.

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HighSide, the modern collaboration platform for security conscious teams. HighSide's all-in-one business productivity app delivers security, compliance and productivity through decentralized crytopgrahy and E2E encryption - see for yourself today.