How to Significantly Increase Data Security in Microsoft Teams
Did you know that Microsoft Teams has a data protection problem in Germany? State commissioners for data protection and information security of the federal states, amongst others, frequently criticize the use of the service in schools and are trying to restrict or even prevent it. Just recently, Dr. Stefan Brink, the data protection commissioner from the federal state of Baden-Württemberg issued a press release pushing to forbid Microsoft Teams in schools starting next school term in September.
Our standpoint aligns with Dr. Brink, since we believe students’ highly sensitive data should be protected in a way that ensures no third party can access it. This is currently not the case, due to the security setup of Microsoft Teams and the CLOUD Act.
Schools are not the only institutions that need to take care when using the service. Companies also have sensitive personal data and company secrets in circulation that should not be shared in Microsoft Teams chats.
Since Germany is known to be a trailblazer in the field of data security, you can expect other countries to follow suit in the near future. Stay ahead of the curve and prepare yourself using our 4 quick tips on how to use Microsoft Teams in a privacy-compliant manner: What to look out for and where the biggest security vulnerabilities lie.
1. Do Not Send Diagnostic Data
When you send diagnostic data, you are sending data to Microsoft. This is problematic, since authorities can request data from Microsoft without much trouble. The legal base for this is the CLOUD Act. This means that even if Microsoft were to treat this data with caution, it cannot be ruled out that the data might get passed on to the authorities. This is not in the spirit of the GDPR.
2. Use End-to-end Encryption in Teams Calls
End-to-end encryption is available for individual calls. Use this feature when talking about sensitive information. Audio, video, and screen sharing are securely encrypted, but chat messages in calls are not. This type of encryption is not available for group calls. If possible, avoid sensitive topics in calls with multiple participants.
3. Encrypt Chats and Files with Boxcryptor – A Handy Tool for Sensitive Messages
If I wish my marketing colleagues a good morning via Teams when I arrive at the office, that is hardly breaking news. The time I start my workday is technically nobody’s business outside the office, but it probably does no harm if this chat history falls into the wrong hands. However, it is a different story with student grades, information about salary negotiations or absences of colleagues, or highly sensitive details about the company’s new innovative product. This data can be encrypted with Boxcryptor in Microsoft Teams. Individual messages and files can be easily and quickly encrypted before being sent in chats and channels.
This way, the message can only be viewed by the sender and receiver – and absolutely nobody else. We recommend Boxcryptor for everyone collaborating with others in Microsoft Teams. Whether it is a large car manufacturer in Michigan, a small startup in New York, or an elementary school in Denver. They all have data worth protecting, which can be shared with encrypted messages in Boxcryptor for Teams, easily and securely.
4. Adapt the Security Settings in the Admin Center
Check your settings in the Admin Center of Microsoft Teams (admin.teams.microsoft.com). Here, for example, you can set which clouds are allowed to be added, or whether your users are allowed to add guests. There are also policies you can set for messaging, screen sharing, and other actions.
In summary: Security Settings are Cool, but Not Enough
You cannot properly secure Teams just by setting policies or by not sending diagnostic data. If you encrypt individual calls end-to-end, you have already taken a step in the right direction. For conversations in large groups, you need to sensitize your employees to the topic of data protection and data security.
We at Boxcryptor developed an important component for the security of Microsoft Teams, out of necessity. Since we were not satisfied with the level of protection in Microsoft Teams, we came up with Boxcryptor, a way to easily and quickly share even the most sensitive content. In daily business, this is often a relief.
With Boxcryptor for Microsoft Teams you can manage files – securely encrypted – directly in Microsoft Teams. Also, you can share sensitive messages and files with additional encryption with a clear conscience.
Note: This article does not replace legal advice, it merely reflects our assessment of the situation.