Maksim Kabakou - Fotolia

Security Think Tank: Select collaboration tools carefully to keep data secure

How can businesses of all sizes ensure that employees are able to collaborate effectively without the risk of compromise to the company IT network or systems?

Secure collaboration between internal and external teams is essential for project success, but using free or cheap tools can lead to security failings.

For example, the popular collaboration tool Slack was hacked in February 2015, when 500,000 email addresses and other personal data were leaked.

I would suggest carefully creating your own secure collaborative system, as long as it matches the user friendliness your team is used to. Your employees will then commit to using the new collaborative tool, rather than preferring to shortcut to low-security alternatives.  

Ensure the system easily integrates with your existing IT processes and infrastructure, such as content management systems, mobile device management and digital rights management systems. This safeguards your security controls and guarantees they are consistently applied across all your IT services. 

A system that easily integrates with your business software will prevent duplication of time and data. Make sure your system has robust search and analytical capabilities to allow drill-down into your business information, to find a file or a document.

It goes almost without saying that employees have to comply with company policy on the appropriate use and protection of computing devices and networks. As ever, employee communication and training about the security risks involved are also very important aspects of enforcing this policy.

Creating a great secure collaborative platform takes a lot of time and effort, and much can be written about the correct steps to take. It is important to stop your employees from signing up to free or low-cost individual file-sharing accounts, which could mean your company is exposed to significant compliance risks. Otherwise you will not have any visibility or control over the information being accessed and it is impossible to know just how exposed your company is to a data breach.

Tim Holman is an international board director at the Information Systems Security Association and CEO at 2-sec............. ............. ...................... ................. ................. .....



Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

"It is important to stop your employees from signing up to free or low-cost individual file-sharing accounts, which could mean your company is exposed to significant compliance risks."

In order to keep our data secure, we are using They offer an end-to-end encryption and their servers are based in Germany. They are pretty low-cost, but offer the right amount of security.

One of the bigger issues that we have to deal with where I work is the use of Shadow IT, which we have been working to address for quite some time now. We  work with the users of shadow IT to see what needs are not being met. If there is a solution available that they are unaware of, then we work with them to transition to the offered solution. If the organization does not offer a solution, then we work with the users to either legitimize the shadow IT solution, say move from personal DropBox accounts to DropBox for Business, or find another solution that the organization can provide.