Google Workspace Security Features Slash Collaboration Risks

Posted by John Lawler, Director of Cloud Professional Services

Aug 20, 2019


Collaborating in the cloud isn’t just the future of today’s workplace; it’s the here and now. Devices, browsers and infrastructure have combined forces to create a cloud-first workplace, one that’s smarter, better and faster than ever before.

The lure of real-time collaboration across time zones and locations has made its impact as more companies seek a digital upgrade. Some embrace workplace cloud collaboration immediately. Others tread a little more cautiously due to concerns about cloud security risks.

At Onix, we face both scenarios every day helping all of our clients understand that the cloud is a safe place to engage and communicate with colleagues and partners.

Here’s a look at what we suggest to clients who want to create a secure, proactive, intelligent and compliant cloud collaboration experience for their organizations without cloud collaboration risks.

Customized Enterprise Control

Nothing is more important when it comes to protecting data in a collaborative environment than making sure that users have access only to the information they need to see. When choosing workplace cloud collaboration tools, insist on features that allow your administrators to easily manage all users and their specific permissions across the system through a centralized console.

Look for a cloud collaboration suite that offers customized enterprise control over system configuration and application settings. Your administrators can streamline authentication, asset protection and operational control while keeping data safe and secure.

For example, Google Workspace security features include a single sign-on (SSO) model. This means it gives users unified access to other enterprise cloud applications without needing to log in to each different application. The administrative side is centralized, allowing you to manage all user credentials and cloud apps in one place. It’s a proverbial win-win for both sides.

To streamline this even further, be sure to consider a solution that gives you the ability to automate employee onboarding and offboarding within your workplace cloud collaboration suite. Cloud security with Google is assured.

But there are other ways to ensure a safe, secure workplace cloud collaboration experience. Solutions, such as the one offered by our partner BetterCloud, automatically assign new employees the appropriate granular control settings.

When they leave the organization, the system will automatically revoke access to all objects. All of this is done through custom workflows that reduce IT time and ensure that the data is safe.

Access and Authentication

Speaking of access, be sure to require two-step authentication for anyone logging into your system, whether they are an IT administrator or a general user. This effective, extra layer of security protects accounts from unauthorized access by requiring users to verify their identity with more than the usual password.

Often this means pushing a verification code to another personal device, such as a smartphone or tablet. The user then returns to the login page and enters the code before they can proceed to your collaboration tools. Other organizations opt to use security keys or backup codes to ensure controlled access.

Also known as multi-factor authentication, this process can be one of the single most important things you do to protect your data — and your business during your workplace transformation in the cloud.

Because hackers target usernames and passwords, there are settings to prevent employees from keeping a password too long and requiring them to change it at a regularly scheduled interval. Once their password expires, they must make the change before they can log in.

To add a further layer of access protection to your system, you can also build in safety features that won’t allow users to reuse a former password. If you are a Chrome Enterprise user, you also can ensure your employees don’t use their work password on sites that aren’t whitelisted by your organization.

Machine-Learning-Driven Security

These days, you can discover an immense amount of information about your workplace cloud collaboration suite through machine learning, particularly email features that help users stay ahead of phishing scams, account takeovers and other security blind spots. Email remains the main gateway to these hazards.

That’s why strong security is a must. Google Cloud indicates that 99.9% of business email compromise attacks are stopped within Gmail by warning users or moving messages to spam. This totals more than 700k of harmful web pages indexed every minute — and more than 10 million spam messages that are blocked from reaching Gmail customers.

Machine learning drives this activity to keep user accounts and information secure. It automates security decision making and pinpoints the most worrisome security concerns across Google Workspace.

Beyond email protection, built-in machine learning models in Google Workspace also provide security signal analysis within Google Drive. This allows the system to flag potential cloud collaboration risks, including data theft or unusual external file sharing and download behavior across your user base. This enhances Google Workspace customer success.

Integrated Analytics and Managed Alerts

IT admins have so much thrown their way each day that it’s hard to keep tabs on what’s happening in the 24/7/365 world of your company’s cloud collaboration. That’s where a comprehensive security dashboard comes in handy.

A dashboard provides a single location where you can view your cloud collaboration risks and suspicious activity, review information about how spam and malware are targeting your users and see how you measure up with security effectiveness metrics. These dashboards are so granular that you can pinpoint which of your users are being targeted for phishing attacks so you can stop them before there’s a breach.

The dashboards can also provide tools to help you access crucial “security health” recommendations, ways your organization can reduce cloud collaboration risks and build an even stronger security platform. The recommendations include such things as better ways to manage file storage and sharing — and providing guidance about settings tweaks for mobile devices, communications and more.

Let’s also talk about alerts. Some admins can get thousands of them a day. How do you make sense of them? A strong alert center that, like the security dashboard, delivers a single view of essential messages and actions for your workplace cloud collaboration solution makes it easy to prioritize incidents and react appropriately.

Privacy and Security Standards

Choose collaboration tools developed by providers that keep your organization’s privacy and security standards paramount. Solution providers, such as Google Cloud, make strong contractual commitments to data ownership and usage, transparency and accountability to help users remain compliant. Our clients own their data, not Google Cloud.

Google Cloud sums it up best, saying, “Our business is built on our customers' trust: trust in our ability to properly secure their data, our commitment to respect the privacy of the information they place in our systems and the tools we provide them to keep control over their information.”

As a Google Cloud Premier Partner that has earned the Enterprise Collaboration Partner Specialization, we firmly uphold this commitment here at Onix, and share the same security-first mindset.

What’s more, cloud providers such as Google operate their vast network of data centers on custom-designed servers with proprietary operating systems. For example, because Google controls its entire hardware stack, its engineers are able to quickly respond to emerging threats.

While any computing solution faces security considerations, deploying workplace cloud collaboration offers more benefits than it does security risks. These solutions, such as Google Workspace, have been built with inherent security issues in mind, as well as ways to help you and your team work together smarter, better and faster every day.

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John Lawler, Director of Cloud Professional Services

John oversees all deployments of Google Workspace and Chrome and post-deployment services that help customers see the value in the entire Google platform. He has been helping organizations go Google since 2009.

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