How to maintain communication monitoring compliance when using tools like Microsoft Teams


With digital collaboration tools becoming as ingrained to the working world firms need to be aware of the compliance risks and upgrade their communication monitoring tools.

Theta Lake has released a new report titled, ‘Break through compliance barriers in Microsoft Teams for Financial Services’.

Following the pandemic, financial services have used digital collaboration tools to communicate, present, collaborate and share ideas. One of the most popular platforms is Microsoft Teams, a cloud-based collaboration platform that combines voice and video meetings, char, file sharing, real-time collaboration and more.

However, as more companies use these platforms, regulators have increased compliance to ensure these platforms are not abused or used in illicit manners. There are now strict requirements for supervision and archiving of digital communications.

According to Theta Lake’s 2021 Modern Communications Survey Report, nearly two-thirds of respondents cited that content shared via chat is one of the biggest concerns due to the ease of sharing files and links that could hold sensitive information. Theta Lake added that information might not exclusively be leaked through chat, with information easily shared through audio and webcams. For example, tabs in a screenshare or information on a whiteboard in the background.

Its survey also found that 91% of financial services companies use two to six collaboration tools. Since 2020, video usage has increased by over 70% and chat by over 50%. Webcams, screenshare and whiteboards have become more popular than chat, it said.

Despite the huge increase in usage, 83% of respondents to the survey said they do not use all capabilities of their video platforms. Of this group, 47% have turned off some content sharing features or the camera, and 36% have turned off most content sharing features.

Theta Lake stated that compliance officers have a balancing act. One the one hand there is the increased productivity and value add from collaboration tools, on the other hand are the associated risks and potential compliance violations.

Its report highlights three key challenges that firms face. The first is that employees might seek to circumvent the use of collaboration tools that require recording and sharing confidential information through other channels.

The next issue is with screen sharing. Information can easily be exposed during this, but because the document isn’t shared in the chat or mentioned in the transcript, it is hard to screen for potential leaks.

Finally, automated transcripts of voice and video calls can be inaccurate or incomplete, which leads to missing red flags.

Theta Lake stated that existing legacy solutions are not prepared for the modern workplace. It stated that as the need for monitoring and strong electronic communication historically began with email, most tools rely on the ability to search and monitor email content and are designed around this.

To address chat and other forms of communication, as they emerged, the industry standard was to convert everything into an email format that could then be searched and processed using pre-existing solutions. This adds to the complexity and leaves room for new risks.

It said, “Often such programs convert each day’s chat record into a single email. But a chat between two individuals may take place over several days, which means supervising it this way leaves out crucial interconnections that might otherwise show patterns indicating deceit or nefarious plans.”

Furthermore, it stated that many regulations require electronic communication records to be stored in their original format, leading to mismatch in terms of content and context between what was monitored and what was stored.

Theta Lake is partnered with Microsoft Teams, with its AI-enabled compliance and security capabilities able to ensure compliance. It offers comprehensive capture, analysis and compliant storage of all Microsoft Teams communications, including voice, video, chat and file sharing. The platform also has a streamlined compliance review with information presented in context and intelligent flagging of violations potential or issues in images, videos, voice recordings, files and more.

Read the full report here.

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