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Introduction to Collaboration Security

Collaborate securely with Reco

Collaboration platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams have revolutionized how teams work together even while they are physically apart. Evidence shows that companies who use collaboration tools effectively are 30% more effective than companies who don’t, and businesses simply wouldn’t have survived the Covid-19 pandemic without them.

But the challenge of collaboration tools is that they throw out everything we used to know about security. Collaboration tools encourage users to share information freely, across platforms, groups, and channels, work together with colleagues both internally and externally, and ultimately to keep moving forward. For security teams used to controlling IT systems, collaboration tools are incompatible with the way they are used to working.

As a result, a new form of security is needed, and that is collaboration security.

What is collaboration security?

Collaboration security refers to security measures that ensure that employees use collaboration tools securely. Collaboration security can refer to tools and controls, and it can also refer to governance and employee behaviors.

However, collaboration security is an entirely new concept in cybersecurity, and defining it properly requires a deeper look at the wider collaboration and security environments.

What are collaboration tools, and why are they so popular?

Collaboration tools refer to software and applications that make it easy for teams to work together even when they are working in different locations or at different times.

Collaboration tools include communication platforms such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, but Microsoft 365, GSuite, team task management tools such as Asana or JIRA, and many more also fall under the collaboration security umbrella. While many of these tools have been in use for several years, the rush to digital transformation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically expanded the scope of online collaboration for most organizations.

Collaboration tool usage is affecting real change in organizations:

Why can’t collaboration tools be secured using traditional methods?

Collaboration tools work differently to tools in the past. They are democratic, constantly changing, and designed by their nature to allow people to work together. By contrast, legacy security tools are designed to protect data by keeping people out. They are often manually intensive, follow strict, static rules, and require oversight and correction from IT and security teams. In short, they simply can’t keep up with the speed of collaboration tools.

For example:

Where does data end up when it is shared via a collaboration tool?

Users may download data sent to them via one platform and forward it on to someone else via another platform. Every collaboration platform has a native sharing capability, which makes tracking a piece of data’s path through the system extra difficult.

What happens to data when someone leaves the organization?

As data becomes ever more decentralized, employees take custody of different packets of data and the location of every piece of data is unknown by individual employees, let alone by anyone else in the organization. This increases the danger that an employee leaving the organization may take vital knowledge about the existence and location of sensitive data with them, and no one inside the organization has access to it.

What happens when a project ends?

When a project ends, the organization may be left with a disused channel on Slack or external users with access to files, chats, or even drives. Human nature is to forget about them, but these channels can quickly become a security liability that the security team has no insight into.

All of these very common collaboration tools require a new form of security.

What are the characteristics of collaboration security?

Collaboration tools require that security adopts different characteristics in order to keep up with it. Some of these characteristics include:

  • Collaboration first: Collaboration security must be able to support productivity.
  • Dynamic security: Collaboration security needs to be dynamic, not based on static rules that require manual intervention to apply and adjust them.
  • Decentralized: Collaboration security must allow for decentralized security where users are encouraged to take charge of their data security (more about that here — link to next blog).
  • Context driven: Collaboration security must understand the business context and data flows rather than relying on contents.

Source: Dr. Chase Cunningham on LinkedIn

At Reco we are building the world’s first collaboration security tool. We are changing the concept of data security in order to enable organizations to be collaborative, productive, and growth oriented.

Ofer Klein, Co-Founder and CEO at Reco

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