With all the recent myriad of news around Microsoft Teams and the rest of the Microsoft products, it’s not easy to zoom on the important ones and prepare a plan for action in a timely manner. At Impactory, we monitor for key changes for our customers all the time and we would like to highlight this major change to your attention. As originally communicated in MC228482 (December ’20), Microsoft will be changing the default setting for Guest access in Microsoft Teams.
Beginning on February 8th, 2021, the Guest access in Microsoft Teams will be on by default for any customers who have not explicitly configured this setting. This will bring Teams Guest capability into alignment with the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite, where the setting is already on by default, but might expose some unprepared organizations to certain risks – breaking regulations, exposure to data leakage and others.
- When: February 8th, 2021
- How: Control it through the Teams Admin Center
- What: Review and set appropriate configuration according to your organization’s policies.
When Microsoft implements this change, if you have not already configured Guest access capability in Microsoft Teams (you’ve left the Service Default), that capability will be automatically enabled in your Microsoft 365 tenant. With guest access enabled, you can provide access to teams and other resources to people outside your organization while maintaining control over your corporate data. If you don’t want to do that just yet, it’s important to take action before February 8th.
If you already have Guest access turned on or off by setting it explicitly, you don’t need to do anything.
Prior to this change taking effect on February 8th, 2021, if you want Guest access to remain disabled for your organization and you haven’t explicitly configured that, you will need to confirm that the Guest access setting is set to “Off” instead of “Service default”. You need to be a Teams Service Administrator or a Microsoft 365 Global Administrator for your tenant to control this setting.
When you need to communicate and/or collaborate with people outside your organization, you have two options with Microsoft Teams: External Access (the more restrictive) and Guest Access which allows you to collaborate with external parties just as you could with people in your organization.
You can use both external access and guest access if you want – one doesn’t exclude the other. You can read more about External access in our step-by-step Microsoft Teams Governance guide in the blog.
The upcoming change impacts Guest access only.
Guests can be added to Teams and it’s a good idea to manage that access with a list of domains that you would allow. By default, guest access was off up until now but after February 8th, it will be on, which means anybody with an e-mail address can be added as a guest to your teams. Guests can also access and collaborate on the files in Teams. Guest access is managed from three different locations – the Teams Admin Center, the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and Azure Active Directory. For this specific change, you’d need to go to the Teams Admin Center.
The setting is found under Teams Admin Center -> Org-wide setting -> Guest Access.
If you would like to prevent this change from exposing you to the outside world, just set the “Allow guest access in Teams” to Off. When you’re ready to collaborate with Guests, you can come back and set it to On. If your current setting is “Service default: Off”, this will change automatically to “On” on February 8th.
Be prepared, stay in the know, plan for action, and monitor the Microsoft 365 Message Center frequently. While Guest access is a valuable feature, be aware of the risks it brings if left unmanaged. This is the case with plenty of other Microsoft Teams settings that might require your attention during the initial setup and on an ongoing basis.
If you want to review your Teams Governance strategy, read more about it in our recent blog post and see if you’re well positioned. Governance and Compliance go hand in hand, especially in the EU, so you might find useful resources in our blog post called Mit Microsoft 365 schneller zum Compliance-Ziel. If you’re still using Skype for Business only or along with Microsoft Teams in coexistence, be sure to check our Skype for Business to Teams Migration guide before it’s too late.
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