Are Collaboration Tools a Double-Edged Sword for Security?

Welcome to the latest edition of Charlie's Tech Talk for Business Growth, a bi-weekly newsletter that our Director of Technology and Innovation, Charlie Griffiths writes. Aimed solely at businesses who are looking for ways to enhance their growth through investment in IT and technology.
16.10.23 Charles Griffiths

Two weeks ago, I sat down to write my very first article for this new Tech Talk newsletter, and I opened with how the fresh autumnal mornings signalled change in the seasons. Well, that was short lived with the mini heatwave we had at the beginning of last week!

Although very much back to reality now, with the autumnal weather officially arriving.

Now I know what you’re thinking, what does the weather have to do with collaboration tools? But as I mowed my lawn for the final time (hopefully) this weekend, I realised that it’s all I seem to have been doing this summer, mowing the grass that is. That’s because the collaboration between the downpouring of rain we’ve had, followed by the couple of days of glorious sunshine, meant it was perfect growing conditions.

Except from July, where it did nothing but rain.

Anyway, collaboration tools in the modern workplace. Who doesn’t appreciate the convenience of apps such as Teams and Zoom? They allow us to seamlessly interact with colleagues, share files, conduct meetings, and even engage in confidential discussions, all from the comfort of our home offices. It’s a utopian scenario, until cyber threats cast a shadow over the parade.

While these platforms have undeniably boosted productivity, they have also introduced a host of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. For instance, phishing attacks target Teams users through deceptive messages and malicious links that could easily be mistaken as legitimate.

Additionally, using WhatsApp for business purposes has exposed many to various social engineering attacks. Meanwhile, Telegram, once considered a secure option, has increasingly become a prime target for cyber attackers.

I know this might seem like a drastic turnaround from talking about mowing my lawn, but sometimes you must be as bold and in your face as the British weather can be.

Because ultimately, this concerning landscape has given rise to a new threat category known as Business Communication Compromise (BCC), akin to its more recognised counterpart, Business Email Compromise (BEC).

It’s worth noting that a staggering 82% of data breaches involve the human element, as reported in the 2022 Data Breach Investigation Report. Even a seemingly innocent click on a phishing email can transform your communication platforms into a playground for cyber enemies.

To ensure your digital safety in this environment, consider the following precautions:

  1. Enforce Rigorous Access Controls: Implement tough access controls to ensure that only authorised individuals can access your platform. Something as simple as multi-factor authentication can serve as a robust deterrent.
  2. Implement Data Loss Prevention Measures: Choose a system equipped with encryption capabilities and ensure that lost or stolen devices can be remotely wiped to protect sensitive data.
  3. Educate Your Team on Protecting Sensitive Information: Invest in training for your team to broaden their awareness and knowledge of protecting sensitive information.

As we navigate the complex landscape of modern collaboration tools and their security challenges, it is essential to strike a balance between convenience and safety. While these tools have revolutionised the way we work and connect, they also demand a heightened level of vigilance.

Remember, the human element is often the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Therefore, it is not just about implementing the latest security technologies but also encouraging a culture of awareness and responsibility among your team members. Starting with an honest evaluation of your current climate.

Do you use a collaboration tool such as Teams or Zoom? And do you have regular cyber training in place? Whether this be in-house or through a partner. If the answer to the latter is no, I advise you address this as a matter of urgency – because the ‘it won’t happen to me’ does not cover your employees.

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