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The 4 Types of Collaboration Habits That Make Information Security Breaches an Inevitability

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working remotely than ever before. On the one hand, productivity hasn't really suffered as there are a large number of cloud-based tools that make it possible to be just as productive outside of the office as you are in it.

But on the other hand, there are also certain types of collaboration habits that make security breaches no longer a matter of "if" but "when." Understanding what these are is the best way to avoid them at all costs. 

The Dreaded "User Error"

If you had to make a list of all the reasons why data breaches are allowed to occur in the first place, human error would undoubtedly be right at the top. It's not that your employees are outright trying to sabotage your network — far from it. But when people share passwords with other employees, share sensitive data via insecure collaboration tools or make any similar mistakes, they're essentially opening the door to your network for anyone to walk through.

To combat this as much as possible, you need to make it as easy as possible for employees to access the data, the tools and the systems they need to do their jobs. Likewise, you need to invest in ongoing cybersecurity training to help make sure people are aware of all of the potential risks they face. You can't expect someone to avoid falling victim to a phishing attack if they're not even really sure what one looks like.

The Risk of Data Overexposure

A lot of people don't realize that the types of chats and files shared by employees on online collaboration platforms are usually retained forever — meaning that this data is always going to be vulnerable to a cyber-attack if you're not very, very careful. So even if your business' network isn't breached, you're still not out of the woods if that collaboration tool is as at that point hackers would have access to everything someone ever said or did with the platform.

This is why you always need to choose your cloud-based partners wisely and assess each one's level of data and system security before picking one to go with moving forward. Likewise, you should add as many security measures to reach data repository as possible to help reduce your risk surface as much as you can. Always make sure that employees are using two factor authentication, for example, and move away from free applications. Finally, make sure that all sensitive or otherwise confidential information is always classified that way so that you know exactly where critical data is and where it needs to be protected.

M-Files gives organizations full control over who can access information at different stages of a process. Access will also automatically change when people leave or move into a new role.

Risky Personal Devices

Another one of the major collaboration habits that makes it possible for data breaches to take place has to do with employees who insist on using their (inherently insecure) personal devices.

If you give an employee a laptop computer, you can encrypt any data contained on it. You can always make sure that it is up to date in terms of patches and you can take whatever other steps are necessary to mitigate risk. You don't have that option when someone is using their own personal devices, which is why you need to pay close attention to this phenomenon at all times.

Always audit your IT environment and network activity and pay attention for suspicious activity. If you find that users are working with their own devices, try to get them to use corporate devices and always install endpoint protection tools on each one. 

Shadow IT

Finally, one of the biggest collaboration habits that increase the chances of a data breach ultimately comes down to the use of unsanctioned tools, otherwise known as Shadow IT.

Sure, your employees may feel more comfortable working with their own personal file sharing services. But you can't protect this data repository if you don't know that it exists in the first place and if someone is using it to link to or share corporate files, it runs afoul of the very best practices that cybersecurity plans are built on.

For the best results, always be sure to work closely with all departments to understand employee workflows and their business needs. Try to really understand WHY someone is using Shadow IT — what feature do they need that you're not giving them access to, or what other concern do they have that this relieves? Then, select collaboration tools that address these issues — thus minimizing security risks across the board. 

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