Slack adds more key management options, Splunk integration, and FedRAMP certification

New features include data resiliency, as well as compliance tools designed for healthcare, finance, and government clients.

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Slack has expanded enterprise key management to more components of its collaboration platform including Workflow Builder.

Image: Slack

Slack continues its quest for world dominance with new features to make communication channels easier to manage and more customizable for customers in regulated industries. The latest round of enhancements addresses security, mobile management, and analysis capabilities. Larkin Ryder, the chief security officer at Slack, said these changes address new security risks created by the pandemic as well as the urgency to speed up digital transformation efforts.  

"Hackers love nothing better than a rushed employee; that's where they get their foothold," she said.

Here's a look at the new management and security features with some available now and others in the works.

More key management options

Slack added enterprise key management (EKM) in March 2019 and now has extended that control to the Workflow Builder Tool. Slack will extend that same protection to Connect in the coming months.

"This offers the security that we want it to offer and scales as well," said Larkin Ryder, chief security officer at Slack.

Connect allows organizations to communicate with each other via a shared channel. The look and feel are the same as an internal Slack channel but there is extra security to control access to sensitive data. 

"With EKM, if you revoke those keys, those messages become indecipherable and the content is protected," Ryder said.

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Ryder's team also is working on a vetting process for outside partners to confirm the identity of an organization using a shared channel.

"Verified organizations for Slack Connect will help you make sure you're connecting with who you think you're connecting with," Ryder said. This functionality will launch later this year.

Slack also has centralized cryptographic operations in a single set of servers dedicated to that purpose. 

New features for regulated industries

Slack now offers FedRAMP Moderate certification for enterprise grid users. FedRAMP Moderate Impact Level is the security standard required for cloud computing that involves controlled, unclassified information across federal agencies, which is data that is not publicly available. These systems have a baseline of 325 controls. 

Ryder's team also has built data residency options for Slack users. This will allow customers in France, Germany, the UK, Canada, Japan, and Australia to store data at rest in their home countries. 

"There are a number of regulated industries and other countries where the laws of the land dictate  data management," Ryder said. "We are leveraging AWS infrastructure and services to help companies comply with these regulations."

Soon, businesses will be able to choose where they want their encryption keys kept, too. 

Information barriers are another new feature  which will be released later this year. This will allow companies to block analysts from seeing communications from traders at a financial firm. 

"Both groups could see the same announcements channel but they can't DM each other," Ryder said. She said this is a common request from customers who need to comply with industry regulations or avoid conflicts of interest.

New analysis and mobile management options

Slack also announced a Splunk App for Slack. This will ingest activity from Slack's audit logs directly into Splunk to visualize and analyze data in ready-to-use dashboards, including logins, file actions, permissions, channel activity, and admin actions.

Slack is also planning new tools for managing installations of the collaboration platform. Later this year Slack admins will be able to use Microsoft's Intune Mobile Application Management. Both Intune managed and unmanaged devices will be covered. Users will be able to copy and paste data between other Intune managed and secured applications.

Finally, admins will now be able to set a minimum version restrictions on the app that will prevent users from connecting to a workspace if they are  using an older version of Slack. Admins will be able to log a user out immediately or set a grace period for the user to upgrade.

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica is an independent journalist and communications strategist. For more than 10 years, she has covered health and healthcare with a focus on innovation and patient engagement. She led AIR Louisville, a three-year digital health project focused ...