Follow These 5 SharePoint Migration Security Tips

Welcome to the final installment of our blog series on migrating to Microsoft SharePoint. Catch up by reading last week’s blog post on SharePoint governance. Today, we’ll take a closer look at SharePoint security.

SharePoint has excellent built-in security features that can extend your IT department’s existing layers of firewalls, security software, and protocols to protect your organization. However, it just takes one user downloading secure documents onto their personal device and sharing them through unsecure, unencrypted email to delegitimize your IT team’s efforts.

Migration to a new version of SharePoint is a fantastic opportunity to drive greater collaboration and communication amongst your users, but it’s also the point of greatest risk. Why? Users frustrated with change are likely to revert to old, unsecure methods of collaborating, storing, and sharing content so they can continue getting their jobs done.

Without providing training or help, users of a new system may put sensitive information in the wrong places – enabling users who shouldn’t see the information to have access rights to it.

As you migrate to SharePoint, follow these five security tips:

  1. Manage users in groups. SharePoint is a very flexible, extensible platform and so is the security model built around it. You can define security permissions from the site collection or site level all the way down to a single item or document. You can assign these permissions directly to individual users, but doing so will create management headaches for years to come. Follow Microsoft’s own best practices and use the “Groups” functionality as much as possible when assigning permissions.
  2. Don’t use document or item-level permissions. It’s not easy in SharePoint to get a high-level view of all the single item-level permissions granted, making maintenance nearly impossible. Item-level permissions also break inheritance, which is a SharePoint security best practice directly from Microsoft. Complicating this factor is the fact that each document and item has a share button by default, encouraging people to share individual items. It’s great for collaboration, but if you don’t have a strict governance and security plan in place, this feature could put information into the wrong hands very quickly. 
  3. Educate users on the new “share” permissions. The latest versions of SharePoint now have a new “Share” function that allows you to share any item in a list externally with anyone worldwide. By sharing an item in this way, it creates a new item-level permission for the individual receiving the content. The good news is that this feature is generally turned off by default, but make sure you are following the technical operations and site/security administration portions of your governance plan to allow the right access to the right external partners.
  4. Appoint a single site administrator for each site collection. Add the administrator’s details to the landing page of a site, so end users can easily contact that person to get help and advice. Consider using the “site users” web part to help with this, which can also be used to show the administrators through both SharePoint and Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync).
  5. Ask users to lock their phones and tablets as they would their workstations. The rise in Bring Your Own Device and Internet of Things makes this crucial to managing your business’ security liabilities. Many of these smart devices contain a wealth of corporate data and settings. The newest versions of SharePoint strongly encourage mobile use cases, such as SharePoint Newsfeed, OneDrive for Business, and email clients. Leaving a mobile device unlocked opens a backdoor to your company’s vital information – so ask your users to lock that door and throw away the key!

Content Panda has driven migration projects helping over 500,000 people successfully adopt SharePoint and Office 365. Download our free migration eBook to get all the details on how to transform your business.

Written by Co-Founder, Evangelist and Chief Marketing Officer, Heather Newman

Once a month we share expert opinions on end user adoption, Office 365 and SharePoint that we like from our community.  Receive our next issue by signing up here.

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