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Securing External Sharing in SharePoint: A Complete Guide

External sharing is a great way to make sure that employees can easily access the information. However, it can also be a potential security risk. With external users connecting to their SharePoint sites through the Internet and with no controls in place, it’s easy for them to access anything in those environments.

If you don’t take steps to secure external sharing, users will be able to save confidential files. This can include everything from confidential financial documents to team members’ social media profiles. External users can also view content from your site using search engines and web browser extensions. This can help them find any content they want with little effort.

The solution? You can consider applying SharePoint external sharing best practices to help you maximize SharePoint’s potential and minimize its challenges. Furthermore, here are some points that you should execute to ensure secure external sharing.

Limit Who Can Access External Sites

External users will be able to connect to your SharePoint site through the Internet if you allow them to. To ensure that they don’t accidentally access any sensitive information, you can restrict who can use external sites.

You can also control who can access external sites through your own firewall. This will help keep your company’s network safe. While you can control access to external sites using the “external access” settings in SharePoint, this method is best used in conjunction with a firewall. Using the firewall, you can create a rule that allows external connections to your SharePoint site. Then use the external access settings to limit which users have access to that content.

By controlling both access and content through the firewall, you can protect your company’s network and prevent external users from accidentally accessing internal data.

Require Strong Passwords

Like any other online account, external users should use strong passwords. If you don’t have a password policy in place for external users, they can use weak passwords that might be easy for an attacker to break into your system. If an attacker breaks into your network and gains access to that account, their password might bypass security features that block other users from gaining access. Strong passwords are important for external users, too. Having passwords that are easy to break into is a security risk that applies equally to internal and external accounts.

If someone with access to your external account can figure out what the password is, they’ll also have access to all of your data. To make sure that external users use strong passwords, you can require a password before connecting to external sites. Another solution might be to make a policy that all users are required to create strong passwords.

You can also allow external users to create accounts in your SharePoint environment. When doing so, make it mandatory for them to create strong passwords when they sign up for an account.

Limit What Users Can Do on External Sites

External users can do a lot on their own computers, including accessing files and reading them from external drives. With so much freedom, it’s important to set up limits on what external users can do with that freedom.

One way to do this is to require users to sign in via an Active Directory account. This might seem like overkill, but it’s important to limit access to external resources while still allowing them to access their data from within SharePoint.

This will help ensure that a malicious user can’t simply sign into a computer that’s hooked up to a network but hasn’t been set up for SharePoint. It also provides an additional layer of security since external users can’t just sign into SharePoint and have access to all their data.

If a malicious user tries to access your network, they won’t have access to all that data the external user does. This keeps the malicious user away from having equal access to your data.

Monitor Which Apps Are Used When People Access External Sites

One of the biggest risks with external sharing is that users might be using apps that you don’t control. Apps like Google Drive let external users store files on their own computers and can be accessed by anyone on the web. This can put sensitive data at risk, including financial documents, team projects, or anything else you want to keep safe.

To protect against this risk, you should monitor which external apps are being used when people access external sites. If you see that a certain app is being used when external users are accessing SharePoint, that can be a sign that something is potentially dangerous.

You can use this information to help find malicious apps that can put your data at risk. You can also use this information to help you create policies for external users that control which apps have access to your SharePoint environment.

Encrypt Sensitive Data 

If an external user tries to access a file that has sensitive information in it, those files might not be as safe as you think. This is a big problem for external users, who will have access to everything in the file. Encrypting sensitive data when it’s saved in SharePoint can help protect sensitive information from being viewed by external users.

Encrypting sensitive data in SharePoint gives external users one layer of security. If someone with access to the external drive tries to open the file, they won’t be able to see the information inside. It means they’ll have to crack the password to access the encrypted file and decrypt it before they can view the sensitive content. This puts sensitive data at a higher level of security.

Conclusion

External users can pose a security risk when they have access to your SharePoint environment. Follow these best practices for securing external sharing in your SharePoint environment and you can keep your data safe. These actions might seem like overkill, but they’ll keep your network safe.

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