How to Mitigate the Risks of a Data Breach in SharePoint?


What do you think businesses care most about? Quality, profits, customer satisfaction. Yes, they care about all these factors but there is another aspect that tops the chart i.e., security. You heard it right, businesses are going an extra mile to protect their data from any external threats. Wondering why? The answer is simple. Overlooking any potential risk and letting their protection levels go down can cost them their business.

One of the main reasons why businesses are taking extra measures to secure their data is because a data breach not only puts your business in a vulnerable position but it also has an impact on the customers too. It strains the relationship between customers and the organisation.

Over the past few years, many large corporations have been hurt by these external threats. These threats have knocked-off the balance whilst leaving a devastating effect on the company’s reputation and finances. All these situations have led businesses to take measures to improve security and mitigate the risk of data breaches.

Businesses have turned to applications such as SharePoint to protect the sensitive data relying the protection to specific SharePoint security solutions. Some of these solutions specialize in specific issues, while others are multi-purpose.

If you’re one of these people who know little about SharePoint, but are interested in it and are planning to implement it in your business then you are at the right place. In this article, you will also understand how to mitigate the risk of a data breach in SharePoint. Stick till the end to find out.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform that merges with Microsoft Office, launched back in 2001. This industry-leading tool is used for collaborations and secure document management. Simply put, it is a content management system and an intranet that is mostly used by the businesses for internal purposes. It has the capacity to bring an organization together and help employees to coordinate. The statistics shows that more than 78% of Fortune 500 companies are using this collaborative tool to develop both offline and online capabilities.

This tool comes with handy document management capabilities along with a set of multipurpose technologies that has a strong connection with Office 365. SharePoint is vital for businesses as it is designed with companies security in mind and comes with a lot of capabilities that will help your business. 

Using SharePoint can be quite beneficial for businesses in which accessibility and information play a crucial role. On a daily basis, an organisation sends or receives hundreds of emails losing even one of them can put the business in a compromising position. With SharePoint, they can avoid such situations as it stores all the information and other important updates in a central location making it easy for people to collaborate on a particular topic.

SharePoint security issues

If you think the purpose of SharePoint is to only share information then you are wrong. This tool also promotes collaboration between the company’s staff too. SharePoint allows the organisations to create a digital place for people to automate tasks, work together and create workflows. It helps organisations to stay organized and save time. But one must understand that even the best tools like SharePoint also comes with limitations.

Even though it solves the companies problems, SharePoint has flaws when it comes to securing administrative accounts. The problem here is because most companies are not aware of all the data stored by their employees. So if a user stores any kind of data that is not appropriate or approved, it will put your business at high risk for the data breach (even if the SharePoint is secured with third-party security solutions to protect the data). To avoid such situations the organisation should train their employees on which data is acceptable to store or share on this platform.

The security issues and its implications usually change from organisation to organisation. If you want to understand the risks that exist with a specific SharePoint implementation, then you must evaluate potential threats along with the strengths of your existing security controls. You must also evaluate the impact of various other potential loss events too. Perform risk analysis, it is highly recommended to manage your data in the SharePoint by taking the risk-based approach.

These are the security risks that are commonly seen in a SharePoint environment. And one must remember that the risks may vary from implementation to implementation. These are the risks that will bring some serious consequences to a business if mismanaged or not taken seriously.

Here are the security issues and there is no particular order or ranking to define their seriousness. All these risks can be dangerous for an organisation if left unmanaged.

  • Negligence securing against those insider accounts that are privileged
  • Lack of content awareness
  • Non-existent or inadequate audit trails for administrative access and usage
  • Not being able to secure the content, including endpoints and transit
  • Misconfiguring permissions and access controls
  • Platform Security Risks
  • Malicious content risks
  • Not being able to restrict admin and service accounts
  • Issues related to SharePoint network configuration and system architecture
  • Failure in providing DR capability and performing backups

All the security issues can bring serious implications to the business such as fines, damage brand reputation, loss of customer loyalty and trust, etc. So one must take necessary protective measures to avoid such unpleasant situations.

Data Protection measures

Since more and more organisations are turning towards the SharePoint to store and access their regulated and sensitive information. It is important for businesses to improve their security. Here are few protection measures.

Train your staff

First things first, if a business wants to protect itself from a security breach then it must train its employees. SharePoint is a digital platform where your employees collaborate, work together and automate tasks. If they don’t understand which data is appropriate to be stored and which is not. Then you’re in for a big trouble. And not to mention most security breaches occur because of a simple human error. So if you want to protect your security data from any of the external and internal threats then it is time you train your staff.

Compliance Mandates

The problem with native SharePoint security is that it lacks an easy-to-use, intuitive interface for analytics and reporting. So first and foremost the businesses must decode the internal representations of the SharePoint’s log data before accessing meaning information. So use an enterprise technology that combines both activity details and permissions to automate the compliance reporting. Because of it you can filter and organise data while generating compliance data on time.

Alerts in real-time

Most of the data breaches can be avoided if the organisations take better care. All they need are simple or intermediate controls to avoid them. So it is important for the businesses to be one step ahead of the hackers. They must implement third party security products that control the internal access. Limit the privilege levels, implement governance, enable auditing, perform backups, perform scans frequently, implement anti-malware solutions on your server and etc. When you come across a minor issue, instead of leaving it unattended, see that the issue before it becomes a major concern for the organisation.

Cipherpoint Solutions

The businesses can turn to the help of third party SharePoint security solutions such as Cipherpoint. It has the ability to control the SharePoint administration access and thus protect from insider threats. The best part is that it does all this without impacting the user experience or user empowerment. Additionally Cipherpoint provides centralized permissions and role management, data discovery, activity logging for regulated and sensitive information and transparent data encryption in SharePoint – an integrated data protection suite for SharePoint.