Protecting corporate data in popular cloud-based collaborative apps

Cloud adoption has grown at an astonishing rate, providing organizations with the freedom to store data in numerous cloud applications that meet their specific business demands. Additionally, migrating to the cloud gives employees the ability to access work material from anywhere and anytime.

protecting data cloud

This increases productivity by allowing employees to collaborate remotely with applications like G Suite, Office 365, Salesforce, and Slack (to name a few). While utilizing these cloud apps provides flexibility and cost savings, it also can allow sensitive data to be exposed.

While there are plenty of cloud applications available, let’s explore G Suite, Office 365, Salesforce, and Slack, and how organizations can leverage these apps to reap benefits while keeping data safe.

Proceed with caution

No matter what your company does, you likely share documents with employees, clients, or partners on a daily basis. These documents can include proposals, contracts, financial records, HR paperwork, and other confidential files. While these apps have made it easier to share, the documents and files are highly sensitive and could be very damaging if malicious actors got their hands on them.

Over 6 million businesses are paying to use G Suite, which provides access to corporate data from any device, anywhere, improving IT flexibility and employee productivity.

Similarly, Microsoft’s Office 365 provides teams with collaborative services to share and store data on SharePoint or Microsoft Teams. Another popular application over 150,000 enterprises use is Salesforce, a customer relationship management service that supports marketing, sales, commerce, and service functions. Lastly, Slack has become one of the most used team collaboration solutions with over 12 million daily active users sharing messages or other files on the platform.

Unfortunately, companies are not able to monitor all of the documents or data being shared across these apps. For example, Slack has private channels and direct messaging capabilities where admins cannot view what information is being shared unless they are a part of the conversation.

As we have witnessed with previous data breaches, there is a risk that sensitive data will not always be shielded from anyone outside your organization. Slack previously experienced a data breach back in 2015 as a result of unauthorized users gaining access to the infrastructure where usernames and passwords were stored. Salesforce has also had security issues in the past exposing users stored data to third parties due to an API error. These are just a few instances that should serve as a stark warning to enterprises that they can’t rely solely on app providers to ensure the security of their data – they must implement their own proper security solutions and processes in tandem.

While these cloud-based services have native security capabilities in place to protect the infrastructure against intrusions, the onus is on the enterprises using these tools to ensure files that are being stored and accessed in the cloud are secure. As businesses continue to use these apps, they must understand that they have a shared responsibility to protect corporate and customer information.

To achieve this shared goal, organizations need tools that are designed for enforcing real-time access control, detecting and remediating misconfigurations, encrypting sensitive data at rest, managing the sharing of data with external parties, and preventing data leakage while using these apps.

You can have your cake and eat it, too

Single sign-on (SSO) should be included as part of an organization’s cloud security strategy in order to authenticate their users and ensure that sensitive data is not being accessed maliciously. Along with SSO, having a cybersecurity solution that can protect data at upload, download, and at rest is essential to preventing a security breach.

Enterprises should also equip themselves with full-strength, data encryption and data loss prevention (DLP) as a part of their cloud-based collaborative apps. Additionally, companies should often train employees on best practices while using these apps including educating them on any specific company rules around data sharing.

As enterprise security teams have come to the realization that legacy security tools are not enough to secure their ever-changing ecosystem, cloud adoption will continue to rise. However, just like any other application, it’s important to have further preventive security in place to ensure that the data that is stored within the app, stays completely secure.

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