10 SharePoint Security Mistakes You Probably MakeBradley Manning allegedly stole sensitive government cables destined for WikiLeaks from a SharePoint server. Are your information security controls tighter than the Army's were?
5. Not watching watchers. According to Cryptzone, meanwhile, 34% of IT administrators told Cryptzone that they'd "sneaked a peek" at documents they weren't authorized to view, including employee details (for 34% of respondents) and salary information (for 23%). In other words, too often there's insufficient separation of duties between security overseers and SharePoint administrators.
6. Failure to encrypt. Out of the box, SharePoint's SQL database is unencrypted, but adding encryption can be difficult, and may trigger performance issues. According to EMA's Volk, however, "leaving content in plaintext does leave it vulnerable to discovery and exploit--and could raise regulatory issues in environments subject to regulation governing the protection of sensitive data." To help, Volk said security vendors such as CipherPoint can ensure data confidentiality, which also helps maintain a separation of duties between security teams and SharePoint administrators.
7. Sloppy search indexing. Too often, said Volk, SharePoint administrators use an admin account for the search indexer, "which causes the search to surface results that are not meant for everybody." While these documents can't be opened, searchers can see a two-line preview. According to Crawford, "this is an example of something that is far too common in many other aspects of IT, when administrative accounts are used needlessly for operations that really don't require it, resulting in far greater exposure to risk."
8. Poor Internet Information Services maintenance. "Microsoft IIS must be patched regularly to be secure," said Volk, yet many businesses fail to keep their SharePoint server software updated. "Systems maintenance for security can be a challenge for any organization, but is a particular problem for SMBs, who often simply do not have enough people, time, or expertise to administer properly," said Crawford via email.
9. Poor endpoint security. "SharePoint Workspaces now allow users to synchronize with SharePoint libraries, so that they can have access to SharePoint content offline," said Volk. But what happens if that endpoint should become compromised? Accordingly, Crawford recommends strong endpoint security tools, including disk encryption, to prevent PC breaches from spilling SharePoint secrets.
10. Failure to scan for viruses. Many organizations fail "to scan files that are uploaded to the content libraries," said Volk. "This can lead to the dissemination of malware via SharePoint." Likewise, he said, many businesses also fail to account for SharePoint databases in their disaster and recovery planning.
When it comes to administering SharePoint, Crawford said that not all of the above "would necessarily be considered 'mistakes.'" While some are, "others reflect the challenges of administering an environment where content--often sensitive--is shared," especially when the tools involved haven't been designed to work, out of the box, in locked-down mode.
In other words, if your business uses SharePoint to store sensitive information, ignore taking the time to secure and monitor access to that data at your peril.
Heightened concern that users could inadvertently expose or leak--or purposely steal--an organization's sensitive data has spurred debate over the proper technology and training to protect the crown jewels. An Insider Threat Reality Check, a special retrospective of recent news coverage, takes a look at how organizations are handling the threat--and what users are really up to. (Free registration required.)
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