SharePoint Data Encryption Basics and Solutions

SharePoint is an extremely popular collaboration platform that can be used to share information and collaborate on various tasks. SharePoint Online is the cloud version of that same platform, offering even more versatility to its users – including integrations with all kinds of cloud applications, making it on par with Microsoft 365 in terms of functionality.

Using SharePoint is a great way to increase the productivity of a team, especially if the team in question is working remotely from one another. SharePoint is all about Internet-based collaboration experience with workflow management, secure sharing, content creation, and more. It also has impressive scalability, making it a great choice for almost any company out there, no matter how big or small it is.

SharePoint has been around for quite a while now, acting as an Intranet for plenty of companies all over the planet. It can integrate with Exchange natively, and also offers versioning, co-authoring, and many security controls – offering improved efficiency without limiting the integrity of the work itself.


Additionally, SharePoint also supports apps – this is how the platform refers to integrations with itself that expand its capabilities in some way or another. Several apps are included in the package from the get-go, and there are plenty of other ones that can be used to make SharePoint even better than it is already, with features such as calendar plug-ins, document libraries, and even workflow improvement apps such as Nintex.

Since SharePoint as a whole tends to deal with sensitive information quite a lot, it is easy to see how security is an important concern for all of its users with no exceptions. There are plenty of different ways to approach such a platform from a malicious standpoint, and one of the most popular ones in the recent years is referred to as “insider threat”.

Insider threat as a term is a collective of multiple different ways to access and share otherwise restricted or protected data – emails, documents, logs, and so on. Some of the more common examples of an insider threat are:

  • Phishing and ransomware are two of the most popular types of cybercrimes in recent years – the former is a form of social engineering that aims to deceive a person in order for them to reveal sensitive information, while the latter is a type of malware that encrypts the data and demands a monetary compensation (ransom) for its decryption key
  • An error in the name of the email recipient, a relatively small error that could create grave consequences
  • Negligence as a whole, such as the willful ignorance of established security practices and rules
  • Data export with malicious intent, most of the time performed by a disgruntled ex-employee

SharePoint itself has quite a lot of different security options in place, offering extensive control over the content as a whole, as well as many abilities to control it on a granular level – including sharing settings, SharePoint Groups, permission inheritance, Multi-Factor Authentication, Data Loss Prevention policies, and more.

Data encryption is one of the most important security measures for any company out there, and it becomes even more important for platforms such as Microsoft 365 and SharePoint because of how much they are used by employees working remotely. However, data encryption as a whole has plenty of nuances that everyone needs to know about, especially when it comes to encrypting very specific sensitive data – PHI (Protected Health Information), PII (Personally Identifiable Information), IP (Intellectual Property), and so on. There are also various government-level regulations to keep track of, such as the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Encryption exists purely for the sake of protecting your data in case something unexpected happens to it, be it an accidental or intentional leak, or even a cyber-attack. This is why encryption is part of a lot of regulations that cover data security – including the ones we have mentioned before. But encrypting all of your data just because some of it is highly sensitive is incredibly inefficient, which is why a company needs to have a dynamic failsafe system in place to classify sensitive data for it to be protected appropriately without wasting resources on protecting less sensitive information.

Luckily, the market itself is full of data management solutions that are created to solve these kinds of problems – offering granular detailed protection to business-critical data while also not restricting necessary interactions with such data. It is not uncommon for these solutions to cover both Microsoft 365 and SharePoint at once because of how similar these products are, and there can also be many other benefits to having a dedicated SharePoint data encryption solution – improved compliance, centralized data governance, easy set up and modification, etc.

Some solutions can also go even further in some specific ways, such as offering users the ability to manage their own encryption keys and/or integrate with third-party encryption key management offerings, which is another notable layer of security for any system.

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