SharePoint is an increasingly popular platform due to its powerful collaborative capabilities. Many organizations use SharePoint to store, organize, share and access information from any device. Because of its collaborative capabilities, SharePoint faces different security concerns than other platforms. Maintaining SharePoint security must be a collaborative effort between the IT team and the end users – which can often be very difficult to achieve.
Here are five useful tips to help you improve the overall security of your SharePoint environment.
1. Manage User Permissions Through Groups
Permissions can be assigned individually or through security groups, and both methods have their pros and cons when it comes to the best method for controlling access and authorization. Individually assigning permissions can lead to more control and often more appropriate levels of privileges, however it is difficult to manage. Security groups, however, are far easier to control but could potentially lead to over-privileged users if not handled correctly.
SharePoint users have mainly opted to assign permissions at the end user, file or folder level using SharePoint site groups. Permission levels in SharePoint are assigned to SharePoint groups and this has a number of advantages.
Groups allow permissions to be assigned in a way that ensures you are adhering to the principle of least privilege. Users that change roles within the organization or move on can have their permissions revoked easily by simply removing them from the security groups. Permissions assigned at user level, on the other hand, are rarely revoked in these cases.
2. Stop Using Item-Level Permissions
SharePoint does not provide an easy method to identify unique permissions and address them in the same way that File Server does. Whilst assigning permissions at item level may seem like a good way to speedily get permissions to that item, it will create an unsecured environment in the long run. For this reason, it’s better to use it sparingly.
Instead of using item-level permissions, try instead to use libraries or folders to assign permissions. This will help you control access rights and also reduce the chances of broken inheritance and an increased attack surface.
3. Protect Content Shared with External Users
Due to the nature of SharePoint as a collaborative platform, users will sometimes need to share important information to external users. In these cases, the security of that information should be the top priority.
In most cases, you should try to block external sharing where possible. Only allow external sharing when there is a legitimate business requirement for it. Isolate all external sharing sites into a single site collection, to help give you more visibility and control over what is being shared externally.
Doing this will help you ensure that you don’t fall victim to privilege abuse or allow unknown third-parties to get their hands-on sensitive data. By sharing externally using separate site collections and educating your employees about the best practices of sharing content externally, you’ll be able to mitigate most of the associated risks.
4. Disable Anonymous Sharing
Often there may be times when your users want to share content quickly and anonymously. There are many ways for them to do this. Many organizations restrict attachments on email, so users will look to Dropbox, Google Drive and other methods of anonymous sharing. SharePoint also has this functionality.
Thankfully, you can disable the ability to share and edit files anonymously through SharePoint. This is recommended for a number of reasons, including limiting what your users can share without you seeing and being able to gather all required data sharing information in the event of a data breach investigation.
5. Monitor Changes Being Made to SharePoint
For many organizations, SharePoint works in the background, facilitating collaboration, and problems are only spotted when they manifest themselves in the form of a data breach or disruption.
You need to ensure that you are auditing and monitoring SharePoint changes to spot anything that could potentially lead to downtime or a data breach. If you can report on the state of your SharePoint environment, you’ll be in a better place to ensure that you are secure and compliant with regulatory standards.
You will need to pay particularly close attention to configuration changes, permission changes and user profile changes.
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