Ensuring a Safer Meeting Experience in Teams


Mohamed El Nemr

We are more than 12 months into the global pandemic and many of us have not seen our colleagues face-to-face in months. With what I am sure started out as a bumpy ride with a lot of uncertainty – working from the comfort of our own homes has now become the norm and collaboration, done remotely is now a well-oiled machine and crucial for daily internal and client facing interaction.

But working remotely has brought with it the threat of ‘new and improved’ cyber-attacks from unrelenting hackers and the like. This has meant the organisations need to constantly be on the pulse of ensuring that the technology solutions they employ constantly revolve along with their everchanging needs.

We’ve always tried our best to ensure that as we continue to innovative, that we place the specific scenarios of our customers and individuals at the center of the desired outcome. This naturally includes ensuring the online safety and privacy of all involved – particularly concerning the daily interactions that take place in meetings.

Our approach to privacy has always been grounded in our commitment to giving individuals transparency over the collection, use, and distribution of their data. Our Teams offering allows users to create tailored environments to suit meeting preferences across the board. Let’s unpack how.
Start a private channel within a bigger team

Often, sensitive information needs to be shared to specified team members within a broader team only – this may include details about a project, financials or confidential contracts that does not require holistic team protection.

Rather than creating a new team, you can create a private channel within an existing team – only accessible to designated members. This ensures a great way to provide a security layer to protect sensitive business information without creating a separate new team. To create a private channel, go to the team and choose more options and select ‘Add channel’. After providing a name and description, under ‘Privacy’, select the dropdown arrow to specify the channel is private – accessible only to a specific group of people within the team. Once created, you will be able to add up to 250 additional private channel owners.

Ensure increased security for your team
If any of the content stored or discussed within the team is considered business sensitive, such as financial details or classified project information, applying increased protections to that team to ensure the security of the content is a good idea. This can be accomplished by creating a new team and applying an ‘IT-created sensitivity’ label. This label automatically applies the configured protections to the team. When creating a new team, on the sensitivity and privacy pane select the dropdown under ‘Sensitivity’ to select an IT-created sensitivity label to apply to the team. It is always best to check with your organisation or IT department on how sensitive business information should be stored.

Control access to your Teams meetings directly and present
Meeting organisers can change participant settings for a specific meeting through the ‘Meeting’ options web page. This can be done by navigating to your ‘Calendar’, then selecting a meeting, and then selecting ‘Meeting’ options. Here you will be able to tailor to your requirements – such as who needs to be admitted to the meeting and who can bypass the lobby to join it directly. In-addition, as the meeting owner, you can also decide which participants are able to join with the presenter role to present out content and who should join as standard attendees.

Minimize disruptions
Particularly useful for large meetings where most participants will only be listening in – to prevent meeting disruptions, intentional or accidental, as a meeting organiser you can mute individual attendees or all meeting attendees.

If an attendee happens to leave their microphone unmuted while being away, you can easily mute that participant from the participant pane. During large meetings led by designated speakers, such as a town hall or lecture, the ability to mute all attendees ensures your presenters won’t be accidentally interrupted.

Determine who can present content or share their screen in your meeting
As the meeting organiser, the ability to determine who is able to present out content or share their screen within the meeting ensures order and minimises the risk of irrelevant content sharing.

Prior to the meeting start and once it has commenced, you can select a participant via the participant pane to determine whether they have the presenter role or are a standard attendee. This is particularly useful when external participants are in attendance and may need to present temporarily.

Now more than ever, people need to know their virtual conversations are private and secure. At Microsoft, privacy and security have always remained top of mind and it remains our commitment to you – not only during this challenging time, but always.

Mohamed El Nemr – Modern Workplace and Security – Microsoft MEA Emerging Markets