In this digital era, working within larger groups has become easier, efficient and more productive, especially if you compare it to groupware software of the previous decennium. It is very common for employees to use collaboration tools to encourage and support the communication between employees and specific (internal and external) team members. These tools have allowed people to work together online to achieve a goal but at the same time, to get the work done, employees do create an unintentional risk to data security.
Using collaboration tools with safety has become quite an important agenda because online data transfer is much susceptible to data leakage and unpleasant attacks. In order to use collaboration tools with great safety, first, it’s necessary to understand what collaboration tools are and how do they work?
What are collaboration tools?
The term collaboration is defined as working with multiple people to achieve one goal. (Whitsett, 2016) Following this definition, collaboration tools refer to multiple programs (software) used to foster the communication between members of a team working on a same project to accomplish the same goal. The example of collaboration tools is same as that whiteboard in a conference room which is used to resolve the problems in the presence of all concerned participants. Tools like email, workflow software and online workspaces help people to stay connected online and work effectively on the same project.
Risks using collaboration tools and how to do that safely
Being online is all it requires to make confidential data susceptible to leakage. Simply sending an email containing sensitive information or sharing confidential data to a file sharing site can increase the risk of inappropriate exposure and data theft.
With no security vetting of the software or proper authorization, users invite risks while signing up online. According to a recent survey, employees using non-IT supported collaboration tools increase the risk and make the (enterprise) network vulnerable to an unpleasant intrusion.
Safe use of collaboration tools is possible with right pursuing of the software. It can be done by simple making collaboration easy and efficient. Opting for tools with effective control system and fostering employee ownership and accountability also play an important role in increasing collaboration tool safe usage. (Ray, 2017)
Easy and efficient collaboration
Many collaboration tools are safe to use but employees avoid using them because of their complex functioning and difficult use. It is usually the case when the tool is not used quite often and only preferred for little tasks. The truth is that employees don’t want to waste their time learning new complex tools and prefer using (old and) easy ones. (Martinez, 2017)
It is very important to understand that a tool is only effective if it is being used and embraced by the organizations to enjoy safe collaboration. Security isn’t a primary concern of most of the users as they only want the tool to be easy enough to use.
Choose tools with multiple control settings
Every organization has (or should have) certain data security policies for data sharing practices. But it isn’t unfair to state that employees don’t always follow these policies, because not following them could be easier or quicker. To ensure the confidential data security while working in groups, it’s better to opt for collaboration tools having great control system. Collaboration tools with higher functionality allow the organizations to restrict the access for users based on their designation and type. It will shrink the access to confidential data and decrease the data leakage threat to great extent.
Foster Employee ownership and accountability
To use the collaboration tools with safety, it’s necessary to have a complete audit trail log containing all the record of user activities, note that this isn’t always available in free versions or in basic versions, but is usually part of enterprise versions of groupware/collaboration software. This trail log will provide a better accountability of employees using the collaboration tools and also help in identifying any inappropriate use of the software. (Martinez, 2017)
Collaboration tools are quite effective but come with many threats hence, make sure you opt for safe tools having great functionality to increase data security.
Martinez, I. (2017, November 2). How to Make Collaboration Both Easy and Secure. Retrieved May 30, 2018, from CIO from IDG: https://www.cio.com/article/3235908/security/how-to-make-collaboration-both-easy-and-secure.html
Ray, S. (2017, September 6). 5 Ways Collaborative Tools Builds Stronger Teams. Retrieved May 30, 2018, from ProjectManager: https://www.projectmanager.com/blog/5-ways-collaborative-tools-builds-stronger-teams
Whitsett, D. (2016, August 3). What Are Collaboration Tools? – Definition & Types. Retrieved May 30, 2018, from Study.com: https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-are-collaboration-tools-definition-types-quiz.html