Effective collaboration can drive a business forward, leading to innovation and increased productivity. Business owners and team leaders rightfully spend much of their time thinking of ways they can increase collaboration in order to reap these benefits. In the modern workplace there are plenty of technological solutions that can help in this regard, from filesharing services and Instant Messengers, to email and cloud services.

Instant Messaging and Team Chat solutions can provide a business with a wide range of options to help increase collaboration. Easier access to information, more efficiently sharing files, virtual working spaces and easier access to remote working colleagues are just some of the benefits that team communication tools can bring to a business.

Increasing online collaboration can come with risks, however. Given the increase in cybersecurity threats, with 32% more reported in 2018, any team looking to increase its virtual collaboration should take precautions. Luckily, with a little common sense, training and best practices, you can give your team the peace of mind that their collaboration will not put the business at risk.

Secure Your Connections

 Making sure all of your communication is encrypted is crucial in order to protect any data in your possession and help your team collaborate securely. Using secure communication channels, like those provided by some team communication solutions, is a good choice in this regard. Make sure that you understand how encryption works, and which algorithms are the strongest, in order to make the best choice.

Store Your Data Securely

 For the most secure collaboration, you’ll need a safe and easily accessible place to keep your data. Backing up data on encrypted cloud servers is one way to both protect them from external threats and potential loss through accidental deletion or hardware failure. Keeping your data from prying eyes and bad actors is a fundamental responsibility, and a key element of secure collaboration.

Furthermore, if your business is located in Europe or doing any business with clients working there (which is most likely the case) you are subject to the GDPR data protection regulations. One of the key elements of GDPR is the “integrity and confidentiality principle,” which states that businesses have an obligation to protect all data they possess, or else face heavy fines. So apart from securely collaborating it’s important that your business does its due diligence related to data protection.

 Be Careful What You Share and How You Share It

 Data protection is a key element of secure collaboration, but it’s not enough to only secure them. You should also pay attention to data when they’re at their most vulnerable- in transit. In this regard, certain file transfer methods are more secure than others. P2P file transfer, for example, ensures that only the sender and intended recipient will have access to sent data. This makes it one of the best ways your team can send sensitive data to each other during their collaboration.

 One other important step in this area is to set up clear email procedures outlining what types of data colleagues can send via email, and how colleagues should react if they come across a suspicious email. Email communication is one of the biggest security threat points, not to mention somewhat inefficient for certain types of collaboration, so make sure your team uses it responsibly.

 Secure Devices

 The bigger the number and variety of devices your team is collaborating on, the greater the risk. Using a wide variety of mobile devices, for example, presents a unique challenge for data protection. For the best protection you could create secure work stations where team members can collaborate on sensitive projects. These stationary computers can be hard-wired to the internet and have the data protection tools of your choice installed and updated, making them more secure than mobile devices.

Unfortunately, secure work stations may not be feasible for every situation, particularly if you’re working with remote workers or colleagues on business trips. Ensure that whatever devices your employees are using there are clear procedures regulating them. Create a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device Procedure) that clearly outlines how, under what circumstances, and with what protections, your employees can use their personal devices for work. Given that mobile malware is on the rise, this step should take even more precedence.

 Train, Train, Train

 The success of whatever steps you take to secure your team’s collaboration will ultimately depend on the human element. The majority of data breaches are in fact caused by human error. So regardless of what you decide makes sense for your business in terms of tools and procedures, if they’re not strictly understood and followed by all colleagues they will be ineffective. This is where periodic training comes in.

Set aside regular time for refresher trainings on secure collaboration themes. These could be how to securely store data, how to safely use email and recognize a phishing attempt, or any other theme related to cybersecurity. Keeping these topics fresh in your employees’ minds will help ensure that they are actively thinking about how to protect themselves and the team.

Final Words

 A team that efficiently collaborates is a productive and engaged team, but this collaboration should not come at the cost of cybersecurity. Luckily it doesn’t need to. By taking these simple precautions and enlisting the help of the right tools, you can provide your team with the secure collaboration environment they need to drive your business forward.