Navigating Security in Copilot for Microsoft 365: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Oversharing  | Quisitive
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Navigating Security in Copilot for Microsoft 365: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Oversharing 
March 28, 2024
Azhavee Grajeda
Understand the security risks of Copilot for Microsoft 365 and get advice for how to implement Copilot without privacy risks or oversharing.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 represents a breakthrough in work productivity. It uses data from emails, documents, and calendars in the enterprise to offer smart recommendations, simplify tedious tasks, and help with problem-solving processes. Its ability to create insights and support communication can transform how teams work together and reach their objectives. However, as with any powerful tool, it comes with its own set of risks. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the security implications of using Copilot in your Microsoft 365 environment, with a focus on oversharing, reducing Copilot risk, and data protection. 

Microsoft Copilot Privacy Concerns: The Risk of Oversharing 

One of the key risks of Copilot usage is oversharing. As Copilot accesses various sources of enterprise data, there’s a possibility of inadvertently exposing sensitive information from the tenant to unauthorized users. For instance, if Copilot suggests content from confidential documents in the HR site, it could lead to unintended exposure of privileged information or personal data, if the site is not properly secured. 

To mitigate the risk of oversharing, organizations must establish clear guidelines on data privacy and implement security controls. Employees should receive training in identifying and handling sensitive information appropriately. Additionally, implementing safeguards such as encryption and role-based permissions can restrict unauthorized access to sensitive data. 

Copilot Risk Mitigation Strategies 

Microsoft Purview provides a comprehensive set of solutions to help administrators govern, protect, and manage data across their data estate. It plays a crucial role in enhancing data security and compliance for Microsoft 365 Copilot as follows, 

  • Data Classification: As part of Copilot readiness efforts, it is important to understand what information is sensitive and ensure proper handling by applying appropriate labels. Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 recognizes and applies the sensitivity labels that you use to safeguard your organization’s data, giving you an additional level of protection. One of the easiest actions to protect content is to categorize your files with sensitivity labels at the container level. For example, you can automatically label the files in a SharePoint site where the HR team works, that way if someone that is not in the HR team but is over permissioned can be restricted from accessing that content.  
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Data Loss Prevention is an essential method for protecting sensitive data. By setting up DLP policies, organizations can avoid risks associated with unintentional disclosure of sensitive content and unauthorized data transfer. DLP controls operate by searching for an attribute, a characteristic of the file, such as a document trainable classifier or sensitive information types to perform an exact data match that can trigger alerts and actions through policies. For example, a DLP rule can be created to identify sensitive content like “Obsidian” and implement a corresponding action that blocks the inappropriate sharing of such content. This can also be achieved through communication compliance through keyword search
  • Just-Enough-Access (JEA): Limit user access by assigning correct permissions to sites, files, folders, and email. Validate JEA across your organization to eliminate oversharing by conducting periodic SharePoint permission audits. Work with content owners to identify any overexposed assets and remediate permissions so that only authorized permissions have access, starting with sites with sensitive content like Finance and HR. Conduct testing of search functionality to confirm users can only access information relevant to their roles. Restricted Access is part of SharePoint Advanced Management, a new control that allows administrators to create an access restriction policy so that only users in a specific group can access a SharePoint site.  

Keep in mind that tuning permissions is an iterative process that should be part of your governance plan. 

Other Common Privacy Risks & Security Actions 

  • Zero Trust: Zero Trust is a security framework that challenges the traditional perimeter-based approach. It assumes that threats exist both inside and outside the network, emphasizing continuous verification, least privilege access, and the assumption of breach. In a Zero Trust model, organizations verify users, devices, and applications explicitly, limit access based on the principle of least privilege, and prioritize data protection. The goal is to enhance security by minimizing trust assumptions and adopting a more granular and adaptive approach to access control. 
  • Data Breaches: Copilot’s access to emails and documents increases the surface area for potential data breaches. Organizations must ensure robust cybersecurity measures, including regular security audits, intrusion detection systems, and encryption protocols, to safeguard against unauthorized access and cyberattacks. 
  • Compliance Concerns: Depending on the industry, organizations may be subject to regulatory compliance requirements such as GDPR or HIPAA. Failure to adhere to these regulations when implementing Copilot could result in severe penalties and reputational damage. Therefore, it’s essential to assess the compliance implications and implement necessary safeguards to protect sensitive data.  
  • Integration with 3rd party services: If organizations rely on third-party services for Copilot integration or data storage, they inherit additional risks associated with the security practices of those providers. Conducting thorough due diligence and establishing clear contractual agreements regarding data protection and privacy are essential steps to mitigate third-party risks effectively. 


As Copilot for Microsoft 365 provides attractive advantages for improving efficiency and teamwork, security issues must be given high importance. Organizations need to actively deal with the dangers of overexposure, data leaks, compliance breaches, and third-party weaknesses to secure their critical information properly. By conducting a readiness assessment, addressing vulnerabilities, applying strong security safeguards, and creating a data privacy awareness culture, organizations can use the innovative power of Copilot for Microsoft 365 while defending their valuable assets. 

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