Secure File Sharing for Microsoft Office 365

Secure File Sharing for Microsoft Office 365

In a fast-paced digital world, businesses rely heavily on email and file sharing to communicate and collaborate with clients and team members. However, with the rise of cyberattacks and data breaches, secure file sharing has become an increasingly critical issue for organizations. In this blog post, we will explore how businesses can share files securely using Microsoft Office 365.

Microsoft Office 365: An Introduction

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based productivity suite that offers a wide range of tools and applications for businesses, including email, file storage, and collaboration.

Microsoft Office 365 is a popular choice for businesses because it offers a comprehensive suite of productivity tools like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, which are standard across various industries. Businesses that use Microsoft Office 365 realize several business benefits:

  1. Increased Productivity: Office 365 is cloud-based, which allows employees to access their work from any location. It also allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously, increasing collaboration and productivity.
  2. Accessibility: As a cloud-based service, Microsoft Office 365 can be accessed from any device, provided there is internet connectivity. This means employees can work from home, on the road, or from client sites without needing to be at a designated workstation.
  3. Portability: All files and documents are stored in the cloud, making it easy to share and move them. Users aren’t tethered to a specific device or location, as their files can be accessed and worked on from any device.
  4. Updates and Upgrades: Office 365 guarantees that businesses are always using up-to-date versions of the software, which are updated automatically without the need for manual intervention.
  5. Cost-effective: There is no upfront cost with Office 365. Instead, it operates on a subscription model where companies pay per user per month. This is especially handy for growing businesses, as they can scale their needs according to their growth.

Security Risks of File Sharing in Microsoft Office 365

While Office 365 offers many benefits for businesses, it also poses security risks, particularly when it comes to file sharing. There are inherent risks involved with sharing files, regardless of the application used. Microsoft Office 365, however, has a unique set of challenges. For example, while Office 365 does come with built-in security features, they may not be comprehensive enough in protecting against malware and ransomware attacks and advanced threats. In addition, Microsoft operates on the shared responsibility model, meaning while they are responsible for security “of” the cloud, customers are responsible for security “in” the cloud; users therefore must be aware of their role in securing their data. Also, Office 365’s email service is a prime target for phishing attacks, where cybercriminals trick users into revealing their login credentials or other sensitive information.

Let’s take a closer look at these and some other common security risks with file sharing in Office 365:

Lack of Adequate Encryption

One of the biggest security risks of file sharing in Office 365 is the lack of adequate end-to-end encryption. If files are not encrypted during transit and at rest, they can be intercepted by hackers or other third parties, putting sensitive content at risk.

Unauthorized Access

Another significant security risk associated with file sharing in Microsoft Office 365 is the possibility of unauthorized access to sensitive content. When employees store sensitive content in Microsoft cloud storage applications like SharePoint Online and One Drive for Business, they can be accessible to anyone with an internet connection unless role-based permissions are applied. Any unauthorized access, even by another employee, can result in a data breach. This can (and often does) occur due to human error, such as accidentally granting access to the wrong person or failing to revoke access when it is no longer needed.

Malware and Phishing Attacks

Malware and phishing attacks are also a significant threat to file sharing in Office 365. In fact, Microsoft Office 365 is a magnet for phishing attacks. If users accidentally download malware or fall for a phishing scam, hackers can gain access to their accounts and steal sensitive data.

What to Look for in a Secure File Sharing Solution

With a better understanding of the security gaps in Microsoft Office 365, let’s consider the critical capabilities and features required to make Microsoft Office 365 more secure when sharing files containing sensitive information.


Encryption is the foundation of a secure file sharing solution. It is a process that converts plaintext into ciphertext, making it unreadable without a key. A secure file sharing solution should have strong encryption algorithms that are difficult to crack, ensuring that the data is protected during transmission. Look for solutions that offer industry-leading encryption, such as AES-256 and TLS protocols.


Authentication ensures that the data is being shared between the authorized parties. It verifies the identity of the sender and the receiver, preventing unauthorized access. A secure file sharing solution should have multiple authentication options, such as username and password, two-factor authentication, and biometric authentication.

Access Control

The ability to control and customize user access levels is essential for any secure file sharing system. Access control ensures that only authorized users have access to the data. It restricts access based on user roles, permissions, and privileges. A secure file sharing solution should have access control mechanisms that allow administrators to manage user access and permissions.

Audit Logs

Audit logs provide a detailed record of file sharing activity, including who accessed the data, when, and from where. It helps businesses to comply with regulatory requirements and detect any unauthorized activity. A secure file sharing solution should have robust audit logging mechanisms that allow administrators to track file sharing activity for anomaly detection, forensic investigation, and regulatory compliance.

Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention is the ability to prevent the accidental or intentional loss of data. It involves monitoring and controlling the flow of data, ensuring that it is not leaked or stolen. A secure file sharing solution should have data loss prevention mechanisms that prevent data breaches, leaks, and theft.

Regulatory Compliance

Many organizations are required to meet specific data and security regulations. Make sure the file sharing solution you choose is compliant with all relevant regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS. This will ensure that your file sharing system meets legal requirements regarding data security and privacy.

Firewall Protection

Firewall protection is the ability to protect the network from unauthorized access and attacks. It filters incoming and outgoing traffic, allowing only authorized traffic to pass through. A secure file sharing solution should have firewall protection mechanisms that protect the network from attacks and unauthorized access.

Secure Protocols

Secure protocols ensure that the data is shared securely over the network. It encrypts sensitive content both in transit and at rest to ensure its integrity. A secure file sharing solution should support secure protocols such as FTPS, SFTP, HTTPS, and AS2.


Scalability is the ability to handle large volumes of data and users without compromising performance and security. A secure file sharing solution should be scalable to meet the growing demands of businesses.

User-friendly Interface

A secure file sharing solution should have a user-friendly interface that allows users to manage file sharing efficiently. It should be easy to use, intuitive, and customizable.


Integration is the ability to integrate with other applications and systems. A secure file sharing solution should have integration capabilities that allow businesses to integrate it with their existing systems, like LDAP/AD, SSO, DLP, ATP, IAM, CDR, and many more.


Reliability is the ability to ensure that the file sharing solution is available and performs as expected. A secure file sharing solution should be reliable and have a high availability rate.


Support is essential for businesses to ensure that the file sharing solution is working correctly and to resolve any issues that may arise. A secure file sharing solution should have excellent support services that provide quick and effective solutions to any problems.

Kiteworks Helps Organizations Share Files in Microsoft Office 365 Securely and in Compliance

The Kiteworks Private Content Network consolidates, controls, protects, and tracks third-party communication channels like email, file sharing, SFTP, MFT, and others to mitigate the risk of a data breach or compliance violation.

The Kiteworks Microsoft Office 365 plugin enables businesses to govern, protect, and monitor the files employees share via Teams, OneDrive, Outlook, and SharePoint. Kiteworks even lets employees share files directly through Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. With Kiteworks, Microsoft admins can set and enforce role-based access control for files and automatic logging that reports all file activity—who sent what to whom, when, and how—and facilitates regulatory compliance while also mitigating the risk of data breaches.

Kiteworks also integrates with enterprise content management systems (ECMs) like Box and Google Drive, enterprise applications like Salesforce and iManage, and security solutions like ATP, DLP, and CDR for comprehensive control, protection, and tracking of sensitive files.

Kiteworks offers automated end-to-end encryption, granular access controls, multi-factor authentication, security infrastructure integrations, and more. These features, plus comprehensive audit logs, help organizations demonstrate compliance with data privacy laws and standards like GDPR, CMMC, HIPAA, IRAP, ITAR, Cyber Essentials Plus, ISO 27000 standards, and many others.

To learn more about the Kiteworks Microsoft Plugin capability and how it can help you take control of your sensitive content stored in, and shared from, Microsoft Office 365, schedule a custom demo today.

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