Security and compliance in Microsoft Teams
To learn how to best ensure security while everyone's working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, read these articles:
Microsoft Teams is built on the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 hyper-scale, enterprise-grade cloud, delivering the advanced security and compliance capabilities our customers expect. For more information on planning for security in Microsoft 365 or Office 365, the security roadmap is a good place to start. For more information on planning for compliance in Microsoft 365 or Office 365, you can start with Plan for security & compliance.
This article will provide further information about Teams-specific security and compliance. Don't miss these Microsoft Mechanics videos about security and compliance:
- Microsoft Teams Essentials for IT: Security and Compliance (12:42 min)
- Microsoft Teams Controls for Security and Compliance (10:54 min)
As a customer of Microsoft 365 or Office 365, you own and control your data. Microsoft does not use your data for anything other than providing you with the service that you have subscribed to. As a service provider, we do not scan your email, documents, or teams for advertising or for purposes that are not service-related. Microsoft doesn't have access to uploaded content. Like OneDrive and SharePoint in Microsoft 365, customer data stays within the tenant. You can check out more about our trust and security related information at the Microsoft Trust Center. Teams follows the same guidance and principles as the Microsoft Trust Center.
Teams enforces team-wide and organization-wide two-factor authentication, single sign-on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and are backed by SharePoint encryption. Notes are stored in OneNote and are backed by OneNote encryption. The OneNote data is stored in the team SharePoint site. The Wiki tab can also be used for note taking and its content is also stored within the team SharePoint site.
Because Teams works in partnership with SharePoint, OneNote, Exchange, and more, you should be comfortable managing security in Microsoft 365 or Office 365 all-up. To learn more, read about how to configure your Microsoft 365 or Office 365 organization for increased security.
Currently, private channels supports limited security and compliance features. Support for the full set of security and compliance features in private channels is coming soon.
Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
Advanced Threat protection (ATP) is available for Microsoft Teams, along with SharePoint and OneDrive, applications that integrate with Teams for content management. ATP allows you to determine if content in these applications is malicious in nature, and block this content from user access.
How the affected content is managed after detection is up to the settings you've selected in Microsoft 365 or Office 365. We strongly recommend you consider all applications when it comes to configuring ATP, and for further reading, ATP for SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams will have detailed information on how to get started.
While, at this time, Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) safe links are not available in Microsoft Teams, they are now in public preview through our Technology Adoption Program (TAP), and while a release date for general availability isn't set, we'll update this article when that time arrives. Meanwhile, for information on Microsoft 365 or Office 365 Safe Links, please review ATP Safe Links. ATP Safe links is available in both ATP Plan 1 and ATP Plan 2.
Safe attachments is a feature designed to enhance user security by checking for, and detecting, malicious attachments. Global- or Security Administrators create policies for handling these suspected malicious attachments to prevent them from being sent to users, clicked, and acted upon. Safe attachment protection is available to SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft 365 or Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection Plan 1 and 2 have this capability. Read more about Safe Attachments and how they can help protect your organization in Safe Attachments in Microsoft Defender for Office 365.
Microsoft Secure Score is a measurement of an organization's security posture, with a higher number indicating more improvement actions taken. It can be found in the Microsoft 365 security center. Following the Secure Score recommendations can protect your organization from threats. From a centralized dashboard in the Microsoft 365 security center, organizations can monitor and work on the security of their Microsoft 365 identities, apps, and devices. Microsoft Teams now has recommendations on Secure Score and administrators are encouraged to monitor their security stance on the platform.
Secure Score helps organizations:
- Report on the current state of the organization's security posture.
- Improve their security posture by providing discoverability, visibility, guidance, and control.
- Compare with benchmarks and establish key performance indicators (KPIs).
How Conditional Access policies work for Teams
Microsoft Teams relies heavily on Exchange Online, SharePoint, and Skype for Business Online for core productivity scenarios, like meetings, calendars, interop chats, and file sharing. Conditional access policies that are set for these cloud apps apply to Microsoft Teams when a user directly signs in to Microsoft Teams - on any client.
Microsoft Teams is supported separately as a cloud app in Azure Active Directory conditional access policies. Conditional access policies that are set for the Microsoft Teams cloud app apply to Microsoft Teams when a user signs in. However, without the correct policies on other apps like Exchange Online and SharePoint, users may still be able to access those resources directly. For more information about setting up a conditional access policy in the Azure portal, see Azure Active Directory Quickstart.
Microsoft Teams desktop clients for Windows and Mac support modern authentication. Modern authentication brings sign-in based on the Azure Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL) to Microsoft Office client applications across platforms.
Microsoft Teams desktop application supports AppLocker. For more information about AppLocker prerequisites, please see: Requirements to use AppLocker.
Teams has a wide range of information to help you with compliance areas, including communication compliance for channels, chats, and attachments, retention policies, Data Loss Protection (DLP), eDiscovery and legal hold for channels, chats and files, audit log search, as well as mobile application management with Microsoft Intune. We've provided some information on all these topics below, and you can go to the Microsoft 365 compliance center to manage these settings.
Information barriers are policies put in-place by Teams administrators to do things like keep people or groups from communicating with one another (when there is no business need for them to do so, or a regulatory reason to block them from doing so), and it also allows you to set policies relating to things like lookups and eDiscovery (covered below). These policies can impact users in 1:1 chats, group chats, or at a team-level. The Information Barrier feature is available in the public cloud and starting January 2021 it has been rolled out to the GCC cloud.
For further reading on this topic, go to Information barriers in Microsoft Teams.
Communication compliance in Microsoft 365 allows you to add users to in-scope policies that can be configured to examine Microsoft Teams communications for offensive language, sensitive information, and information related to internal and regulatory standards. Chat communications and associated attachments in both public and private Teams channels, individual chats, and attachments can be scanned to help minimize communication risks in your organization. For more information on how you can configure policies to help you detect, capture, and take action for inappropriate Teams communications, see Communication compliance in Microsoft 365.
Apply sensitivity labels to protect and regulate access to sensitive organizational content created during collaboration within teams. For example, apply labels that configure the privacy (public or private) of teams, control guest access and external sharing, and manage access from unmanaged devices. For further information, review Sensitivity labels in Microsoft Teams.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in Microsoft Teams, as well as the larger DLP story for Microsoft 365 or Office 365, revolves around business readiness when it comes to protecting sensitive documents and data. Whether you have concerns around sensitive information in messages or documents, DLP policies will be able to help ensure your users don't share this sensitive data with the wrong people.
Microsoft 365 offers an additional layer of encryption on top of service encryption for your content. Using keys you provide, Customer Key encrypts several different types of data in Microsoft Teams. Using Customer Key at the application level, Customer Key encrypts Teams files stored in SharePoint Online. For information, see Service encryption with Customer Key.
Using Customer Key at the tenant level, Customer Key encrypts:
- Teams chat messages (1:1 chats, group chats, meeting chats, and channel conversations)
- Teams media messages (images, code snippets, videos, and wiki images)
- Teams call and meeting recordings stored in Teams storage
- Teams chat notifications
- Teams chat suggestions by Cortana
- Teams status messages For more information, see Overview of Customer Key for Microsoft 365 at the tenant level and read the Microsoft Teams blog that covers Customer Key support for Microsoft Teams now in Public Preview. For information about the Microsoft Information Protection release that included Customer Key at the tenant level, read Announcing new Microsoft Information Protection capabilities to know and protect your sensitive data.
Retention policies in Microsoft Teams allows you to both retain data that's important for your organization to keep, for regulatory, legal, business, or other reasons, and also to remove content and communications that are not relevant to be retained. You can also use retention policies to keep data for a period of time and then delete it. For further information, review Retention policies in Microsoft Teams.
Electronic discovery, or eDiscovery, is the electronic aspect of identifying, collecting and producing electronically stored information (ESI) in response to a request for production in a law suit or investigation. Capabilities include case management, preservation, search, analysis, and export of Teams data. This includes chat, messaging and files, meeting and call summaries. For Teams meetings and Calls, a summary of the events that happened in the meeting and call are created and made available in eDiscovery.
For more details about how to use eDiscovery tools in the Microsoft 365 compliance center to search for Teams content, please go to the links below:
We have a Teams-specific article for more information at Conduct an eDiscovery investigation of content in Microsoft Teams.
Customers can leverage eDiscovery or Advanced eDiscovery per their requirements. The following table outlines the differences between the two:
|Relevance Searches with Machine Learning||-||X|
|Unstructured Data Analysis||-||X|
During litigation, you may need all data associated with a user (custodian) or a Team to be preserved as immutable, so that it can be used as evidence for the case. You can do this by placing either a user (user mailbox) or a Team on legal hold. For a team legal hold, the team's mailbox can be put on the following holds:
- In-Place Hold (a subset of the mailbox or site collection through targeted queries or filtered content is put on hold), or
- Litigation Hold (the entire mailbox or site collection is placed on hold).
In either case, once the hold is set it ensures that, even if end users delete or edit channel messages that are in the group mailbox, immutable copies of that content are maintained and available through eDiscovery search. Legal holds are generally applied within the context of an eDiscovery case.
Please see Overview of retention policies to understand more about preservation and holds in the Microsoft 365 compliance center. For more Teams-specific information on legal hold, we also have Place a Microsoft Teams user or team on legal hold for you to learn more.
Content search can be used to search for all Teams data through rich filtering capabilities. The resulting data can be exported to a specific container for compliance and litigation support. This can be done with or without an eDiscovery case. This enables compliance admins to gather Teams data across all users, review and export it for further processing. Please refer to Content Search to learn more about how to conduct a compliance content search for Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 or Office 365 content in the Microsoft 365 compliance center.
Using content search, you can filter down to Microsoft Teams only content, such as Chat and Channel Messages, Meetings, and Calls, if necessary.
If you'd like further Teams-specific information on configuring content search, review Content search in Microsoft Teams.
Audit log search plugs right into the Microsoft 365 compliance center and gives you the ability to set alerts, as well as report on audit events, by allowing the export of workload specific or generic event sets for admin use and investigation across an unlimited auditing timeline. You can set up alerts for all audit Log data within the Microsoft 365 compliance center, and filter and export this data for further analysis. To learn more about searching for Microsoft Teams events in the Microsoft 365 compliance center, see Search the audit log for events in Microsoft Teams.
At Microsoft, protecting your data is our highest priority. To learn about our privacy practices, read:
- Privacy at Microsoft
- Our commitment to privacy and security in Microsoft Teams
- For IT professionals: Privacy and security in Microsoft Teams
Information Protection Architecture
The following figure indicates the ingestion flow of Teams data to both Exchange and SharePoint for Teams Files and Messages.
The following figure indicates the ingestion flow of Teams Meetings and calling data to Exchange.
There can be up to a 24-hour delay to discover Teams content.
When it comes to information protection capabilities, Microsoft 365 subscriptions, Office 365 subscriptions, and the associated standalone licenses will determine the available feature set.
For information on determining the licensing needs to implement features for security and compliance, please review the licensing requirements for security and compliance features.
Content search, Core eDiscovery, and Advanced eDiscovery don't need to be enabled in the Microsoft 365 compliance center to work. For more information, see Microsoft 365 eDiscovery solutions.
Location of data in Teams
Data in Teams resides in the geographic region associated with your Microsoft 365 or Office 365 organization. To see what regions are supported currently, please review Location of data in Microsoft Teams.
If you need to see which region houses data for your tenant, go to the Microsoft 365 admin center > Settings > Organization profile. Scroll down to Data location.
Teams uses the following standards: ISO 27001, ISO 27018, SSAE18 SOC 1 and SOC 2, HIPAA, and EU Model Clauses (EUMC). Within the Microsoft compliance framework, Microsoft classifies Microsoft 365 and Office 365 applications and services into four categories. Each category is defined by specific compliance commitments that must be met for a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 service, or a related Microsoft service, to be listed in that category.
Details can be found in the Data Protection Resources. Teams also supports Cloud Security Alliance compliance.