Oversharing in SharePoint

Tyrone Coupland
Apr 22, 2022 6:27:26 AM

The Microsoft 365 (M365) environment makes it easy to share documents with external parties. However, you can inadvertently overshare! To avoid a case of TMI, it is important to build safety measures into your collaboration processes. 


If you are sharing content externally using M365, you will be directly or indirectly working with SharePoint Online and possibly Teams and OneDrive, which use SharePoint Online.

Getting your external sharing controls and processes just right is a more serious matter than just tweaking your external sharing settings, although that is certainly important.

I was reminded of the need to close down a sharing loophole when being provided access to a document from an external party. I was able to display the location the document was shared from and review and update the metadata. I suspect this wasn't necessarily intended.

Changing metadata, such as the approval person, might trigger a different recipient for approval, circumventing a process. Custom metadata can also be exposed. Perhaps a budget column or even content in the comments column could give me information the content provider would prefer I not see.

If that is enough to scare you into emailing documents instead of co-authoring them, then think again. The document properties attached to the document can also carry forward some of this information and should be wiped first in many situations. Also, you don't want to wipe those properties on your master document, as that just creates different problems. 

For heavy duty document collaboration use-cases, TEAM IM might recommend our  specialized collaboration solutions built around M-Files. We make it easy to securely share and collaborate on content across a variety of scenarios and levels of trust. We can connect this directly to your Teams view to combine both worlds.

If your collaboration use cases are relatively light, you still have options to plug these gaps within M365. Often, it is a combination of technology, process, and education that helps create the optimal solution.

Sending content out externally can be further protected using Microsoft's Azure Information Protection capabilities, which is a topic for another day.

For the situation, setting up sites (or libraries) just for sharing will demarcate and isolate internal content and their metadata safely and securely. This may require duplicating the original document during the collaboration process, but that can be automated easily using Power Automate for user convenience and better information and process control.

It is also possible to strip metadata from the document properties. The manual way is to go to the File Menu on the document and locate the Info section.  From there, click the "Check for Issues" button and choose the Inspect option, and you can remove the document properties and personal information if required.

The main takeaway from this Insight is to realise that the more you open up your systems to reap the benefits of external collaboration, the more you need to stay on top of your information security. TEAM IM can help with reviewing and plugging those gaps utilising the tools at hand, as well as providing comprehensive solutions to meet specific use cases. Don't make your sharing turn into a case of oversharing and TMI. We are here to help.


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