Winning the war on security with Microsoft Teams

Winning the war on security with Microsoft Teams
Frontline staff can unwittingly undermine retailers’ security with unsanctioned apps

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Store staff represent the frontline of a retailer’s brand. They’re the first point of contact for customers, and how they deliver their service can directly influence how consumers feel about certain stores. But it’s often overlooked that store staff are also the frontline of security, thanks to the sensitive information that’s shared among teams. 

Unfortunately, it’s an all too familiar story that office-based staff are more likely to work under the protection of identity and security solutions, leaving frontline staff to fend for themselves – and the means they turn to are putting retailers in danger. 

Left to seek their own solutions, store staff often turn to unsanctioned apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook to communicate with each other and pass on sensitive information. These unsanctioned apps carry numerous shortcomings, each as threatening as the last. Consider, for example, the influx of employees – especially temporary staff during the festive season. It’s far harder to control the joiner/mover/leaver process when unsanctioned apps fall so spectacularly out of the security perimeter.  

Suddenly, door codes, shift changes and personal information are accessible to individuals long after it’s appropriate, and a hole has been blown in that perimeter. Elsewhere, hackers and nefarious players are rubbing their hands in glee knowing that, no matter how good your IT team is, there’s nothing they can do when a third-party app is hacked or a device is stolen, because they’re on the outside looking in.  

For many retailers, the reluctance to introduce identity and security solutions to frontline staff lies in the reality that often, employees only need to use a fraction of a solution. In these circumstances, cost versus usage comes into play. Meanwhile, getting started with a tool which allows for secure communication is a challenge in itself – especially when social media apps are free and readily available.

Well I have a message for those retailers: be strong! There are solutions out there – such as Microsoft Teams – which allow for secure communication and collaboration. Participating within a wider Microsoft environment, Teams management can also be automated to ensure that employees only have the access they need, when they need it. Now, when somebody leaves the company, those door codes remain private.  

The result is a reinforced store front, with retailers and their frontline staff better positioned to work securely. All it takes is the right solution to shine a light on shadow IT and banish those unsafe and unsanctioned apps – and with all the cool features Teams has to offer, it’s not a hard sell. 

Joe Stevenson is head of marketing and communications at Identity Experts

This article was originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.

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