Remote Teaching using Microsoft Teams:
Security and Compliance

Release Date: 09/06/2020

Author: Matt Cadman

The threat posed by COVID-19 in March this year forced many organisations to rapidly implement remote working practices that placed their operational capacity and resilience under severe strain.  The clear imperative was the protection of health and well being and so necessary risks were taken in hastily adopting new working practices. 3 months further on and with the virus likely to be a persistent threat for some time to come, the focus is now normalising and indeed optimising these new ways of working. In many instances, digital transformation plans have been rapidly advanced, largely through the widespread use of collaborative platforms such as Microsoft (MS) Teams.  Indeed, since the crisis began, use of MS Teams has increased almost threefold to in excess of 80 million users.  A key component of Office 365, MS Teams has proved to be an essential enabler but the growth in collaborative working has generated a raft of security concerns, particularly regarding who has access to data and what data is being shared.

For the Higher Education sector, closed campuses have forced large-scale remote teaching using Office 365 with documents being shared and worked on simultaneously between students and tutors.  Published links provide easy access and feedback can be instantaneous – all for the good.  However, ‘teams within teams’ and multiple channels therein create complexity and insecurity – users may not be aware what they are sharing (in terms of scale and bespoke permissions) with whom placing intellectual property at risk, particularly for research institutes.  The key challenge is controlling a web of public-facing links and unfettered access to sensitive data.

Varonis, a leading data classification tool, identifies, secures and monitors MS Teams, Azure AD, Sharepoint, Exchange Online and One-Drive to prevent data breaches.  Through automated threat detection, data protection and response, Varonis identifies your most sensitive and over-exposed data and reports on activity surrounding it in order to contain threats.  It shows who is accessing your data, how and from where and, through user behaviour analytics, alerts you to any anomalies.  By monitoring every file in the system, Varonis reduces vulnerability to threats such as ransomware by quickly identifying which files have been encrypted and recovering them.

Do you know who is accessing your data, whether an account has been hijacked or whether VPN credentials have been stolen?  Are you able to monitor and prevent perimeter attacks such as malware and ransomware from accessing your sensitive data?  Varonis are offering free MS Teams and VPN access risk assessments that show you, very clearly, your data vulnerabilities.  Somerford Associates is a premier partner of Varonis with a wealth of experience in developing integrated solutions for complex data challenges across the public sector and commerce.  Contact us to help you secure your data.

Click here to sign up for a free remote work and/or Microsoft Teams assessment.

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