Our entire way of working has been reset since the start of the pandemic. Technology has supported business continuation for businesses of all sizes across Australia; a swift transition to working from home was made possible, thanks to a myriad of tools that help to facilitate connection and communication. Collaboration tools such as Zoom, Teams, Slack and IM platforms digitally replicate many traditional in-office activities such as meetings, team brainstorming and idea-sharing sessions.
For many businesses, especially the small- and mid-sized businesses with fewer resources, adopting these solutions was a relatively seamless process that expanded their tech capabilities with minimal onboarding. However, their fast adoption and proliferation left many employers without rules to manage the data and information being shared across these new channels, spelling potential disaster for organisations.
Veritas research shows that 65 per cent of Australian employees admit to sharing sensitive and business-critical data using collaboration tools, including everything from date of birth, medical and salary details to bank details, password and credit card information. As work moved to and continues to be in a hybrid style, employees increasingly blur the line between personal and professional information sharing. The murkiness of which has increased the amount of sensitive data being shared in a professional setting.
Many employees still aren’t aware of the risks associated with sharing information across these platforms – they expect that all communication channels available to them through their company have the same level of security. There is no perceived consequence because they often aren’t educated on the importance of data, the risk of breaches and how their actions increase susceptibility, despite SMEs often being at the center of these attacks, accounting for 43% of all cybercrime attacks.
Adoption of collaboration tools have been so well received because of the ease they bring to employees. Besides offering convenience, such tools also encourage productivity and help create a happier team environment – two things that every business should be striving for. With the proliferation of these apps and the challenges associated with monitoring all the data being shared, companies must find a solution without disrupting the day-to-day activities.
To altogether remove these solutions would be detrimental to workflow and damage the relationship between a business and its staff. Additionally, despite any reprimands that they might have received for misuse, 75% of Australian employees will make no behavioural changes – a new approach is clearly required. Incorporating collaboration tools and IM apps fully into data management and protection strategy can deliver ease, convenience, and business benefits without the risk, while ensuring businesses are compliant and protected.
We recommend the following steps for all businesses that want to regain control of data being shared over messaging and collaboration tools:
- Standardise on a set of collaboration and messaging tools that meet the needs of the business – this will limit the sprawl.
- Create a policy for information sharing – this will help control the sharing of sensitive information.
- Train all employees on the procedures and tools that are being deployed – this will help to reduce accidental policy breaches.
- Incorporate the data sets from collaboration and messaging tools into the businesses’ data management strategy using eDiscovery and SaaS data backup solutions – this will empower users to make the most of the tools without putting the company at risk.
The digitisation of business processes is something that has been born out of necessity. New collaboration and IM tools can bring positive change to the management and enhance efficiency of enterprises, especially small businesses that are constantly grappling with a limited budget envelope. When properly implemented, they can benefit both employees and business owners alike.