How to Secure Microsoft SharePoint

Enterprises are increasingly turning to affordable collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint to meet the needs of rapid and secure collaboration among their employees, partners and customers. Knowledge Center contributor Shane Buckley explains how IT administrators can secure Microsoft SharePoint in their organization to keep up with security and compliance demands.

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Microsoft SharePoint. These are two words that conjure up both relief and fear. First, the relief: with over 85 million licenses sold and $1 billion in sales, it's clear that organizations are rapidly embracing Microsoft SharePoint as an affordable technology that can solve the not-so-insignificant challenges of secure collaboration.

Second, the fear: Microsoft SharePoint servers are being deployed so rapidly that IT can't keep up with the security, compliance and risk considerations.

Consider this: A sales department hit with budget cuts and resource reductions turns to the IT department to help it streamline the document-sharing process with partners and customers. IT deploys a sales sub site on a Microsoft SharePoint server that's also home to human resources, marketing and other corporate sub sites. The sales department then creates partner and customer folders on its site.

Business and revenue objectives demand that document sharing begin immediately, so IT grants partners and customers immediate access to the sales site. In fact, access is opened so fast that IT doesn't have time to implement a policy restricting partners from accessing other sub sites and documents hosted on the server. In this case (an all-too-common occurrence today), channel and customer objectives are being met while security and compliance policies are exposed.

There is certainly a level of trust between the organization, its partners and customers. But the fact that outside entities now have access to different department sub sites and file shares clearly presents a security and compliance issue. With cutbacks and the drive to keep channel and customer revenue flowing, how can IT possibly hope to keep up with security and compliance?

Fortunately, for organizations turning to collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, there are many cost-effective security and compliance solutions that respond to the demands of rapid and secure collaboration. Unfortunately, these products and their marketing messages are hitting the street at such a furious pace that it's hard to keep up with what's real and what's hype.