Google Workspace Security Consideration for Business
Working in today’s hybrid workplace environment, it is imperative that all team members access systems and devices securely. Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) provides a robust and secure cloud platform to communicate and collaborate across your team and organization. Your team might be using some popular Google services like Gmail, Google Drive and Google Calendar for daily operations. Being familiar with these popular apps already, you just need to harness the power of collaboration by starting to adopt Google Workspace.
Google as a company has constantly strived to improve its security. Google has a security first policy and it empowers customers with a variety of features to implement in the Google Workspace environment. A plethora of features have been introduced into Google Workspace over the years to empower administrators to secure organizational policies, accesses and data.
Here are the best practices to adopt and strengthen Google Workspace security while ensuring a strong collaboration:
Two-step Verification Enabling 2 step verification (2SV) is the first step toward strengthening your organizational security. Once it’s enabled, all users are required to go via an additional level of authentication for signing in. The authentication method could be Google prompt, Google authenticator app, using a security key or via text/call. 2 step verification helps restrict authorized access in case of password theft or brute-force attacks. It’s recommended that SMS text/call is not used since it’s prone to attacks. It’s possible to configure this on your domain console.
Google Workspace Email Security With spoofing and phishing attempts on the rise, email security is one of the key aspects to strengthen for any organization. Google Workspace offers quite a number of features to tighten the messaging side of things. Some key features are Email Whitelist, Email blacklist, setting up an inbound gateway, content compliance rules, attachment compliance, routing rules, and additional spoofing authentication using SPF, DKIM and DMARC. Spoofing using similar employee names and domain names are common and Google provides a way to catch them by default by turning ON the features.
Review Activity reports Reviewing activity reports can make a big difference in mitigating data leakage and unusual activity. Account status, 2SV enrollment status, drive logs, login attempts, and many other reports available in the Google Admin console help in giving additional information about potential security threats. Google allows logs to be stored only for up to 180 days but you can export them to Google BigQuery and store them indefinitely. Storing on BigQuery opens up options to visualize and report data using Google Data Studio to review and prepare reports of important statistics.
Set up Alerts Google Workspace also allows to set up alerts for events like suspicious sign-in attempts, compromised mobile devices, etc. Alerts can also be set up on Drive activity like the unusual download of data or external sharing of files. These events are always triggered based on a threshold of occurrences. Configuring these alerts for administrators and IT Security teams and defining subsequent actions post occurrence of such an event should be part of your strategy.
Google Workspace Encryption By default, all data in Google Workspace are 100% encrypted in transit and at rest. In addition to it, Google Workspace Enterprise edition customers can utilize client-side encryption (CSE) and have their own encryption keys. Using CSE provides additional flexibility to control and manage the keys directly to have a zero-trust policy.
Data Regions Organizations also have specific data storage, data protection, and compliance policies to abide by. Google Workspace Enterprise offers a feature to store data in specific locations like the United States and Europe. This can immensely help to abide by GDPR policies and ensure that the data is safe within your preferred region. Different data regions can be set based on users present in different organizational units in Google Workspace.
Control access to core services using context-aware access To further enhance security, Google Workspace Enterprise has this feature to control access to specific apps like Gmail, Google Drive, Calendar etc. Access can be regulated and given based on the IP address, location of the device, OS, device security status etc. This flexibility lets you monitor employee access and prevent any unauthorized attempts.
Advanced Mobile device management policies Google endpoint management features an MDM to allow you to protect user’s data on mobile devices (BYOD and company-owned). Advanced MDM policies provide features like managing/allowing access to apps via Android Device policy enforcement. Policies allow you to enforce passwords and set their type, and strength, and define the minimum number of characters. You can also erase, wipe accounts or wipe devices in case devices are lost or stolen.
Security Investigation tool This module provides administrators the additional capability to monitor, prioritize and act on security and compliance issues. Malicious emails or potential spam sent via Gmail or shared via Google Drive can be identified and blocked/deleted from here. The investigation tool also provides additional insight and capability to do granular searches as per the requirement of the investigation. Example: All emails from a particular sender that haven’t been read can be filtered and deleted if they are recognized as spam.
Google Drive Security Google Workspace provides additional flexibility to secure your documents. Available features are setting sharing options, showing a warning when a file is shared outside the organization, controlling content sharing on Drive and Shared Drives, controlling data being shared with third-party add-ons, etc. These policies can also be set on an OU level providing additional flexibility to manage exceptions and define different rules based on countries/regions for multinational companies.
Data Loss Prevention Google workspace provides DLP capabilities for email and drives to its Google Workspace Enterprise customers. Content-type detectors can be set to locate personal identifiable information data (PII), financial data such as credit card information, bank accounts, social security numbers, etc. All email traffic can be scanned and quarantining rules can be set to take action. On Google Drive, sharing externally can be fully controlled based on the DLP rules. The DLP rules go a long way to secure organizational data and prevent data leakage.
Google Vault Audit Google Vault is an eDiscovery and governance platform that helps to retain, search, hold and export any user’s organizational data. It is a powerful tool and is mostly used for investigations and compliance depending on an organization’s retention policies. Access to Google Vault must be strictly restricted and monitored on a regular basis. An audit of Vault activity reports also helps to control organizational security and prevent any potential data leakage.
Google Groups Security Maintaining security in Google Groups is a paramount need and Google Workspace provides a good number of features to set up controls in Groups. Some good features to establish control are allowing/disallowing externals from being part of groups, restricting posting permissions, group visibility, and setting up message moderation to review all messages.
Implementation of the above-outlined policies is easy but without a proper well-established change management process and plan, it can be catastrophic. If you are looking to strengthen your Google Workspace security, make a list of the most important features and prioritize them. If you are looking for experts to guide and smoothen the process, Cloudasta is what you need.
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