Insider Threat Prevention

Best Practices for SharePoint Data Security in 2024

rectangle Written by: Matthew Delman rectangle 2 5 min read

SharePoint is a critical tool in a lot of companies. It’s the main vehicle for collaboration, for file storage, and for ensuring that people can access the information they need when they need it. With this incredible functionality and ability to access critical files from anywhere, defending SharePoint and the data within it is one of the most vital jobs in the enterprise. In today’s digital landscape, cyber threats are ever-evolving, making it crucial to prioritize SharePoint data security.

This blog post dives into some essential best practices that will help fortify your SharePoint environment and ensure your information remains confidential and protected.


Take a Holistic Approach to Site-Level Security

SharePoint data security doesn’t rely on protecting individual files or folders in many cases. Rather, the way the system is built means that securing different sites and site collections is how data often gets secured. Sites and site collections act as containers, inheriting the permissions set at the parent level and cascading those down to child folders and documents. This setup can simplify security, but requires shifting your perspective.

Role-based access control can be made easier with site-level permissions. You can give specific user groups access to sites and the files within them easily. Be aware, however, that granting permissions at the highest level (site collection or site), automatically applies to inheriting objects (subsites, folders, documents). This reduces administrative burden and ensures consistent permissions across your SharePoint structure.


Limit Content and Document Sharing in SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online is a powerful collaboration tool. The problem is that not putting limits on file sharing can result in unintentional data loss from your employees going about their day to day jobs. You need to limit sharing with document controls, while at the same time ensuring that users are able to reliably do their jobs.

External sharing should be done with caution, restricting external sharing by requiring approval for any access requests from outside the organization. Guest user accounts can also be considered if a third party needs access to files in your SharePoint. These accounts can have limited permissions designed to enable them to only access one asset. That way, users can still collaborate with external people but in a controlled manner. Configuring these sharing settings at the tenant level to limit access defaults for all sites within your organization.


Monitor User Activity for Unusual Behaviors

Monitoring user activity and behavior is critical for tracking possible SharePoint data security issues. All file sharing of documents and libraries should be pulled into monitoring logs that you can audit regularly for any unusual behavior that might indicate data loss. These logs also enable you to maintain an audit trail for compliance purposes.

If you configure security alerts to notify you of suspicious user activities in SharePoint, this can also help with alerting you to potential security incidents. Ensuring that users have to make a choice to share with external parties, such as changing a link’s sharing permissions to “Anyone” to share it externally, simplifies that monitoring and data forensics even more.

Encrypt SharePoint Data at Rest and in Transit

All your corporate data should be encrypted both at rest and in-transit with secure communication protocols. Data that has encryption applied at rest, when it’s stored in SharePoint, is harder for unauthorized users to read. This need not apply to external parties either. Internal users who don’t have access permissions via their user account would not be able to read encrypted files because they don’t have the right decryption key. This limits data loss.

Encrypting data in transit means data being sent between users is not able to be intercepted easily. Using secure communication protocols limits the possibility of threat actors interrupting the flow of data and collecting anything useful for their purposes.


Classify SharePoint Data for Improved Security Monitoring

Not all data stored in SharePoint servers is created equally. Some data types are more critical and potentially more damaging if they were exfiltrated. Classifying your data into different levels based on confidentiality or criticality ensures that you’re applying the tightest security to the most important information.

One example is financial documents. Internal financial documentation may be classified as confidential and sharing limited to internal users, while a press release about the earnings report may not be classified at such a high level. Classifying data at different levels also enables you to apply different types of sharing and access limitations. A marketing or sales user sharing a data sheet may only need to be monitored rather than strictly limited, for an alternate example. Data classification enables you to make those decisions.


How Sotero Supports SharePoint Data Security Best Practices

The Sotero platform is designed to unify data security posture management and data detection and response into a solution that discovers, classifies, and secures data. Using its built-in AI to classify data, Sotero identifies the most sensitive SharePoint information and enables you to accurately define specific permissions. Sotero also secures data against any potential admin errors, limiting access when necessary to avoid mistakes.

Sotero ensures that data is encrypted at rest, in transit, and in use, adding another layer of data loss prevention. Sotero also continuously monitors data security posture and dynamically adapts to threats. This keeps SharePoint security updated and effective to improve overall cyber resilience. By halting threats in their tracks, Sotero reduces and protects against disruptions to business operations. This ensures seamless, long-term business continuity.

With Sotero, customers can secure their SharePoint Online instance with some of the best data protection in the industry. This is vital with the cost of data breaches growing and the flood of cyberattacks showing no signs of stopping.


data loss prevention,

insider threat,


Subscribe to our Blog

Take a look at a truly encrypted future, with no data left unsecure.

Request a Live Demo.

Schedule a live one-on-one
demo of Sotero.

Book Demo