Insider Threat Prevention

Limit Accidental SharePoint Data Loss With Better Security

rectangle Written by: Matthew Delman rectangle 2 5 min read

Employees can be one of the biggest culprits of SharePoint data breaches. They don’t even need to be maliciously trying to steal data, simply accessing information that’s not necessary for their roles or copying data that they shouldn’t.

Accidental data loss, often stemming from user negligence or lack of awareness, can be just as damaging as a deliberate attack. Insider threats could end up costing around $15 million per incident on average, according to Code42 research. This is a significant potential loss from what could be little more than an accident.

This blog post takes a deep dive into defending against insider SharePoint threats and explores strategies to mitigate accidental data loss through user education and Data Loss Prevention (DLP).


Accidental Insider Threats Pose a Major SharePoint Security Issue

An insider threat can be any number of possible attack vectors. This could involve a user sharing a confidential document via an unencrypted personal email account or another user downloading a critical report to their laptop without following proper security protocols. These scenarios are all too common, whether because users don’t follow data protection procedures or because they have too much access to internal documents based on their role.

The key thing to remember here is that users will circumvent security guidelines and policies if they feel it interferes with getting their jobs done. A Gartner study recently found that 69% of employees had bypassed their organization’s security policies in the past 12 months. Further, 74% of employees said they would bypass a security policy if it helped them or their team achieve a business objective.

Security professionals have to contend with these employees evading internal controls, leading to data breaches and potential internal data loss. These could be salespeople who send Salesforce data to Dropbox, HR people who might take sensitive salary information to their personal computers, or even financial professionals who email corporate accounting to their personal emails.

These are employees trying to do their jobs who nevertheless create a security incident through either negligence, lack of awareness, or simply making a mistake. Sharing documents externally without proper permissions or falling victim to phishing scams are two examples of negligent behavior that could lead to sensitive SharePoint data being lost.

In other cases, users don’t understand the sensitivity of the data they’re accessing in SharePoint. Not all data that’s business-critical is clearly marked as such, which could lead to a users sharing documentation to an external customer or partner that should not have been shared. These mistakes, as well as accidental deletions, need to be protected against to ensure data loss doesn’t occur.

SharePoint’s Native Data Loss Prevention Features are a Good Start

SharePoint does have some native data loss prevention (DLP) capabilities that help protect against accidental or even purposeful insider threats. DLP helps by defining sensitive data like credit card numbers, personally identifiable information, or proprietary information specific to your organization. DLP can be configured to automatically recognize these data types.

Once that data is identified, then you can create policies around handling it. These policies can potentially limit how or who users can share this information with internally, and even limit downloading or copying outside of authorized channels. If you can make it as difficult as possible to go beyond official, approved sharing and collaboration methods, you can limit negligent or accidental data loss.

Furthermore, SharePoint’s native controls feature the ability to classify specific documents and sites based on sensitivity. If there’s a SharePoint site with highly sensitive information, you can apply an even stricter policy to that site and limit sharing further.

Some additional things you could do to ensure your SharePoint data remains secure include:

  • Monitor User Activity: Leverage SharePoint’s auditing tools to monitor user activity and identify any anomalies that might indicate accidental data loss. Early detection can help you take corrective action and minimize potential damage
  • Regular Reviews and Updates: The security landscape is constantly evolving. Regularly review your DLP policies and user training materials to ensure they remain relevant and effective against emerging threats.
  • Keep Communication Open: Encourage a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable reporting any security incidents or concerns without fear of repercussions. This allows for early intervention and prevents accidental data loss from escalating into a major security breach.


How Sotero Goes Beyond Native SharePoint Security

Native SharePoint data security is a fantastic start to preventing insider threats. It’s not always enough though. The Sotero platform blends data security posture management and data detection and response into a unified data security solution that features discovery, classification, and protection measures to protect against accidental and malicious insiders.

Sotero goes beyond native SharePoint data classification with its built-in AI capabilities to automatically identify the most sensitive information in SharePoint. This makes it possible for you to more easily define access control policies and limitations. Sotero can also protect data against any potential admin errors, limiting access when necessary.

Sotero encrypts data at rest, in transit, and in-use for another layer of cryptographic protection against data loss. This is especially powerful against external threats, but can even protect against insider threats for sharing with unauthorized individuals. Sotero continuously monitors data security posture and dynamically adapts to emerging threats. This keeps SharePoint data security measures remain up-to-date and effective for better overall cyber resilience. By detecting and stopping cyber threats proactively, Sotero helps reduce the possibility of business interruption for seamless business continuity in a world of rapidly evolving digital threats.

With Sotero, customers can be confident that their SharePoint instance is secure from insider threats as well as external cybercriminals. This is critical in the modern business landscape where security teams face skill limitations in the face of a fraught threat environment. Adding Sotero to your SharePoint security plans makes it possible to be more effective in this complex world.


data loss prevention,

insider threat,

Native SharePoint Security

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