Microsoft

Better data loss prevention tools for OneDrive for Business

Security breaches are not the only examples of data loss. New tools in Microsoft OneDrive for Business help prevent data leaks caused by careless users.

Security

When most of us think about data loss in the enterprise, we think about deliberate acts of criminal theft. The pilfering of account information from the United States Internal Revenue Service by a Russian organized crime syndicate is the incident most fresh in our minds as of this writing, but there seems to be a new data loss event every other week.

However, while those security breaches make headlines, the data loss problem administrators and other IT professionals should also be worrying about are the ones caused by their users, especially when cloud storage services are in play.

Plugging leaks

From a user's perspective, cloud data storage is a fantastic invention. Users can save and access data from anywhere on just about any device. But from the administrative point of view, it's very possible that such indiscriminate access is a bad thing. Some data is too sensitive to be accessed from just any device. This is where administrative policies and the tools required to enforce them come into play.

Microsoft's OneDrive for Business, up to this point, has been—to put it charitably—generally clunky. Unlike its consumer counterpart that's simple to get up and running, setting up OneDrive for Business requires several Office 365 administrative tasks. Microsoft has announced several initiatives that will alleviate at least some of this administrative overhead.

Meet the new sync, same as the old sync

From a user's perspective, there's one major change coming to OneDrive for Business that will be applauded. It was announced at the Microsoft Ignite 2015 conference that OneDrive will now have a new unified sync client for both the consumer and the business versions. This means that business users will now be able to pick which folders and files get synced to OneDrive like their consumer counterparts have been able to do since the beginning. No more all or nothing synchronizations for business users.

IT tools

For administrators and IT professionals, Microsoft is adding new Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools to OneDrive for Business. Administrators will be able to set up DLP policies for SharePoint Online/OneDrive for Business from the Office 365 compliance center. Once the policies are set, admins can setup notes and tips for users that explain the policies and enforce them where necessary.

All of these new tools are available in the Phase 2 preview of OneDrive for Business, which you can test for yourself in the Office 2016 Preview. Additional tools and services will be included in Phase 3, which is set for release in late 2015.

Figure A
Image: Mark Kaelin

Bottom line

Whether your organization is part of the Fortune 500 or a one-man operation, cloud storage is a powerful enterprise tool. It's difficult to imagine running a successful business these days without at least some form of cloud storage system.

However, Fortune 500 or not, cloud services still require the completion of administrative tasks to ensure data is secure, not only from would-be criminals, but also from careless users. Microsoft is (finally) trying to catch up in this regard with new initiatives for OneDrive for Business. Only time will tell if it's too little, too late.

Have you set up One Drive for Business at your enterprise? What has been your experience? Does it need better admin tools in your opinion? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

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About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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