How DSPM Can Help You to Safely Use Microsoft Copilot?

In the rapidly evolving landscape of workplace technology, Microsoft CoPilot has emerged as a groundbreaking tool, transforming how we generate reports, presentations, emails, and even song lyrics. It leverages the vast repositories of documents accessible to users, including integrations to other SaaS tools, enhancing productivity and creativity across the board. However, its capability to retrieve and index vast amounts of data also brings to light significant security concerns, especially for organizations with sensitive information stored in widely accessible OneDrive and SharePoint folders.

This blog aims to demystify the steps your security team should undertake to navigate these challenges effectively, spotlighting how Symmetry Systems plays a pivotal role in this journey.

Understanding Microsoft CoPilot

At its core, Microsoft CoPilot is designed to work seamlessly with Microsoft 365 Apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, offering real-time intelligent augmentation where you work. It also offers compelling integrations into other SaaS applications, such as Salesforce. These integrations integrate the data from these applications into the knowledge base or training data used by CoPilot. 

By integrating large language models (LLMs) with your organization’s data, CoPilot turns simple words into potent productivity tools with your organizational data. It promises to unlock new levels of creativity and efficiency by making sense of decades’ worth of enterprise data.

Think Clippy on Steroids

However, the leap towards CoPilot-enabled productivity comes with its hurdles. Primarily, CoPilot operates within the boundaries of the permissions it is initially provisioned with, accessing and analyzing data—files, emails, chats, notes—available to the admin to generate insights. This mechanism, while innovative, can inadvertently surface sensitive information if not properly managed.

We were somewhat surprised to see salary information being surfaced in CoPilot in response to prompts, but not as surprised when Symmetry pointed out the public availability of our product pricing and sales forecasts for the coming quarter.

A large multinational manufacturing company

Moreover, CoPilot simplifies the creation of new content from existing sensitive data, raising concerns over securing newly generated documents that may contain confidential information.

The Security Implications

The deployment of Microsoft CoPilot necessitates a keen eye on security implications, especially given its reliance on existing permissions and policies. The challenge intensifies with broad platforms like Microsoft 365, where managing permissions for collaborative, unstructured data have already overwhelmed users, admins and security teams.

Sensitive data, whether in personal OneDrive shares or broadly accessible organizational folders, poses a significant risk. This problem, while not new, is magnified in the cloud-based, collaboration-friendly environment of Microsoft 365, where data can easily become accessible to unintended audiences.

Sources for training data for Copilot may not strictly align with the current user’s privileges and permissions. Copilot is often trained on data from multiple systems at access levels beyond the average user. As a result, outputs from Copilot may inadvertently expose data way beyond user privilege across the systems. 

In multi-tenant systems and integrated SaaS applications, the data segmentation between customers is followed by user and application. This data segmentation  is very essential for products and customer security. Without careful planning, Copilot may not have such strict data segmentation controls that are required. By coming data from multiple data stores, Copilot may use data across the customers and derive incorrect outputs. 

Ready for CoPilot with DSPM

Before introducing CoPilot into your organizational fabric, taking proactive measures to safeguard sensitive data and manage permissions judiciously is crucial. Here’s where DSPM tools like Symmetry Systems steps in, offering a robust framework to secure your data landscape.

Classify Data: Begin by understanding what data you have. Symmetry Systems helps organizations classify their data across Microsoft 365. This helps distinguish between sensitive and non-sensitive information, thereby setting the stage for secure CoPilot deployment.

Surface Identity & Access Risks: Identifying who has access to what is pivotal. Symmetry Systems illuminates the often-overlooked corners of your data, identifying overly permissive access that could be exploited inadvertently through use of CoPilot. Access controls for organizational Copilot usage, access to training and sensitive data, along with expected data segmentation must be thoroughly tested. Access levels for Copilot must be strictly aligned with individual end users, to avoid potential data exposure beyond the user’s privilege.

Act on a Remediation Plan: Armed with insights from Symmetry Systems, organizations can formulate and implement a remediation plan to tighten access controls, ensuring that CoPilot interacts only with data that is appropriate for its intended productivity enhancements.

Ongoing Monitoring: The journey doesn’t end with deployment. Continuous monitoring and adjustment of permissions and access controls are imperative to maintaining a secure CoPilot-enabled workspace. Symmetry Systems offers ongoing monitoring  and actionable insights, enabling organizations to adapt to evolving data landscapes and maintain robust security postures.

Ready to Secure Your CoPilot Deployment?

The integration of Microsoft CoPilot presents a promising avenue for enhancing productivity within your organization. It however, requires a thoughtful approach to security and data management. Without a doubt, Symmetry Systems must be top of your list as an indispensable partner in this journey. We can help ensure you can harness the full potential of CoPilot while mitigating inherent risks.