Why collaboration platforms create major security risks for organizations

Employees are increasingly comfortable sharing confidential information across business chat tools, according to a Symphony survey.

5 collaboration tools you should know about There's been an explosion of work collaboration tools recently. Here are a handful of noteworthy examples.

The growth of collaboration tools and platforms in the workplace presents a slew of new threat vectors to organizations, according to a Symphony report released on Tuesday. Specifically, the casual nature of conversations on such platforms creates the risk for confidential information to easily be shared, the report found.

The report surveyed more than 1,500 employees in the US and the UK to determine how workers are using collaboration tools. These employees said they were comfortable sharing personal and confidential information through chat platforms and engaging in risky digital habits, and said they don't mind if their conversations are leaked, the report found.

SEE: Microsoft Teams: The right collaboration platform for your organization? (free PDF)

"Collaboration platforms and other innovations bring positive improvements that enable more flexibility and better work-life balance," Jonathan Christensen, chief experience officer at Symphony, said in a press release. "But a more casual approach to workplace communications, and digital habits in general presents major security risks. Employees won't keep secure practices on their own, and employers must consider how they will secure workforce communication over messaging and collaboration tools, just like they did with email."

Some 27% of employees said they knowingly connect to unsecured networks, and many use personal devices regularly at work. One-quarter of respondents said they use personal email accounts to conduct business, and 36% said they use personal computers or phones to conduct work, the report added.

With the explosion of collaboration tools, such as chat and instant messaging systems, employees are sharing more information—personal and professional, the report found. Some 25% said they share confidential information about the company on such platforms; another 25% said they speak poorly about their bosses, and 76% said they discuss their personal lives.

The majority (78%) said they wouldn't even care if this information was exposed to the public, the report said.

For advice on how to improve your workplace's communication skills, check out this TechRepublic article.

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Image: iStockphoto/chombosan

By Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.