Why Data Encryption is a Necessity for SharePoint?

Are you wondering if you need to encrypt your SharePoint? Read this article to know what are the drawbacks of keeping your SharePoint in an un-encrypted format, how to go about encrypting your SharePoint, and the benefits you get from it.

Encrypting sensitive data is a critical aspect of data security and compliance, especially in the context of an increasingly remote workforce that requires access to critical business information beyond traditional security boundaries. When considering the encryption of M365 and SharePoint documents, files, and emails—particularly those containing highly sensitive or regulated data such as personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), intellectual property (IP), M&A documents, and Board documents – multiple factors should be taken into account.

Encryption serves as a safeguard, ensuring that data remains protected in the event of a malicious attack, unauthorized disclosure, or accidental sharing of a document. It also offers the ability to identify, control, and encrypt sensitive data, which is imperative to comply with various regulations such as GDPR for PII and HIPAA for PHI. Meeting compliance standards is essential for organizations handling regulated information.

Implementing dynamic fail-safe processes is crucial for encrypting highly sensitive, regulated, or classified files shared via email. This ensures that even in the event of an unexpected failure, sensitive data remains protected. Leveraging dynamic data classification tools also enables organizations to set appropriate access permissions and encrypt sensitive or regulated data dynamically. This ensures that data is handled according to its classification and sensitivity.

By adopting SharePoint encryption measures and dynamic data classification tools, organizations can enhance their data security posture, meet compliance requirements, and mitigate risks associated with the sharing and handling of sensitive information, particularly in the context of a distributed and remote workforce.

Of course, some data encryption features are already built-in with SharePoint and Microsoft 365, and they can be quite useful in specific situations. For example, SharePoint has audit logging, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) support, Information Rights Management (IRM) capability, Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) support, and more.

SharePoint can also encrypt individual documents through the Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) service. This service extends encryption not only to the email message but also to any attachments, including documents stored in SharePoint. The primary objective is to ensure that only the intended recipient has the necessary access to the encrypted message and its associated content.

It is also within SharePoint's capabilities to offer secure external sharing options, enabling organizations to share documents and files with external users while maintaining data security. This feature set includes the aforementioned 2FA/MFA support, as well as password protection and even an expiration date for shared content (limiting access to the content in question once the expiration date passes).

By leveraging these secure external sharing options, organizations can collaborate with external users without compromising the integrity and confidentiality of their data. These features provide flexible yet robust mechanisms for controlling access to shared documents in SharePoint.

Unfortunately, there are still plenty of use cases that SharePoint's internal capabilities would not be able to satisfy – especially when it comes to larger, more complex organizations with plenty of security concerns and compliance regulations in mind. In this context, it is wise to use one of the third-party data security solutions.

To ensure that the organization's business-critical data is adequately protected in accordance with business regulations and relevant regulatory policies, solutions like NC Protect offer granular access and protection controls within Microsoft 365 applications. It achieves this through the utilization of Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC) and data protection policies.

NC Protect can encrypt email attachments sent via Exchange, it can dynamically modify its access control parameters, and there are also plenty of more case-sensitive features. For example, the addition of NC Encrypt or Azure RMS allows for the encryption of sensitive documents on the fly as soon as they are identified as sensitive.

The encryption features provided by NC Protect for Microsoft 365 and SharePoint offer several key benefits:

  • Security policies are centrally controlled and can be finely tuned, reducing dependence on user behavior for compliance. This granular control enhances security measures across the organization.
  • NC Protect facilitates compliance with privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA by implementing encryption and access control measures. This ensures that sensitive data is handled in accordance with regulatory requirements.
  • The platform enhances security by encrypting and controlling access to highly sensitive and classified documents, providing an additional layer of protection against unauthorized access.
  • NC Protect is designed to be quick and easy to configure and maintain through the centrally hosted policy management portal. This streamlined process contributes to efficient deployment and ongoing management.
  • The optional NC Encrypt module provides connectors to third-party key management platforms, offering added key management security and flexibility. This allows organizations to leverage existing investments in encryption technology.
  • The agentless design of NC Protect eliminates the need for endpoint software installation and maintenance. Organizations benefit from a simplified deployment process and reduced overhead associated with managing endpoint policies.
  • NC Protect seamlessly integrates with existing Microsoft applications and user processes, adding compliance without disrupting user workflows. This integration ensures a smooth user experience while maintaining robust data protection.
  • NC Protect's encryption features provide a comprehensive solution for securing data in Microsoft 365 and SharePoint, offering compliance, enhanced security, seamless integration, and efficient management.


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