One of the most popular cloud-based collaboration platforms, Slack has amassed 12 million daily active users according to Statisa's 2022 report. With organizations embracing remote/hybrid work, that figure is expected to grow to 79 million by 2025.
But, with convenience and accessibility comes an expanding attack surface that criminals and unscrupulous employees alike can exploit. How safe is Slack, exactly? In this blog, we'll show you how to overcome prevalent Slack app security issues.
People often assume that direct messages, passwords, and private chat channels are enough to protect their data. Unfortunately, that often isn’t the case, not least because every service stores and transmits data in different ways. Some of these are more secure than others, but businesses cannot afford to rely on in-app security and privacy settings and protocols alone.
So again, how secure is Slack chat, and all the files, conversations, and data that's facilitated and stored within the platform? This is a serious question that needs to be emphasized and addressed. Especially with the growing ubiquity and utility of the Slack platform.
Business leaders shouldn’t take these risks as a warning to steer clear of platforms like Slack. Collaboration platforms have proven themselves invaluable in today’s remote workforce. Rather, they must understand the risks and take steps on their ends to mitigate them. That way teams can enjoy all the benefits of using online platforms and messaging apps, without leaving themselves open to costly data breaches or IP theft.
Assessing the Security of Slack: What Makes it Vulnerable?
How secure are Slack conversations, huddles, and calls? End-to-end encryption is becoming a standard means to secure digital conversations, authorizing only the sender and the recipient to view the messages and all the data contained within. But is Slack end-to-end encrypted? Unfortunately, it is not.
One of Slack's security issues is that, unlike some instant-messaging apps, Slack end-to-end encryption is non-existent. One of the main reasons for this is that enterprise executives often want to retain complete visibility into communications across different work groups and channels on the platform. At the same time, this also means that a data breach affecting Slack could have disastrous consequences for its users. It’s happened before, and there’s every possibility it could happen again. Furthermore, if confidential business data subject to compliance regulations is among the stolen information, the liability will fall on the organization that owns the data.
Does Slack have end-to-end encryption? No. However, Slack uses HTTPS encryption, DLP integrations, and its own Enterprise Key Management (EKM) for data protection. That said, companies need more than these built-in features to secure Slack users from evolving risks and vulnerabilities.
Though this means data is encrypted both en-route and while at rest on Slack’s servers, its safety is entirely at the mercy of the platform and its own security protocols. If a hacker were ever to obtain the decryption key, they could, in turn, gain access to the data. That might include every message you’ve ever sent. Given that companies routinely discuss trade secrets and share other confidential data on the platform, it’s a recipe for disaster. In fact, the huge volume of message-creation on Slack gives it an especially large attack surface. It is so large that existing Slack message security rules struggle to provide coverage and one that you can’t reasonably expect to monitor manually.
There’s also the possibility of someone using Slack to post malicious content, either intentionally or accidentally. An example includes a link to a site that appears one way, but is actually a phishing portal. Similarly, a former employee who left the company on bad terms, yet still has access to the workspace, might deliberately post malicious content. Such scenarios can hardly be blamed on the platform, but the potential dangers are all much the same.
How secure is Slack chat, files, conversations, and all information that's facilitated and stored within the platform?
Product: Learn more on how to secure Slack for your enterprise.
Recent Security Gaps Found
Malware and insider threats rank among the most pressing Slack app security issues. From 61% in 2020, 75% of organizations experienced malware activity in 2022, mostly from one employee and quickly spreading within their network. This escalating intensity and frequency of malware attacks are attributed to many factors, collaboration tools like Slack chief among them.
Recent studies have shown that 61% of companies use Slack and other similar platforms for internal communication and collaboration. The convenience and ease of use of Slack fuels the platform's adoption. However, a recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered security gaps in Slack. These gaps, if left unchecked, will allow unauthorized users to access content, messages, and files in Slack channels even if they don't have the necessary permissions.
Securing Slack Communications
Organizations need to think carefully about implementing access rights and user provisioning and de-provisioning. There must be a documented process for implementing security controls and mitigating insider threats. To reduce your attack surface, it’s particularly important to avoid giving people access to your Slack workspaces and channels unless they actually need it. Revoking access rights to people who have left the company is merely the tip of the iceberg.
As with everything security- and compliance-related, a robust and regularly updated training program is a key element. It is not adequate to apply a robust Slack chat security solution to secure all communications and interactions within the Slack platform.
Employees need to have a thorough understanding of what they can and cannot discuss on Slack and other channels, as well as the reasons why. However, factors such as accidental disclosure and malicious intent will always remain to some degree. To mitigate such risks, you need an automated solution that immediately alerts administrators to potential data leaks or security breaches and can cope with the creation of data on Slack and other platforms.
If you are interested in learning more about the SafeGuard Cyber solution, you can take a quick 5-minute tour.