Microsoft has announced a host of new security features for its Teams collaboration platform (opens in new tab), including limited end-to-end encryption (E2EE) functionality.
At its annual Ignite conference, the company unveiled new video conferencing (opens in new tab) meeting controls to protect against gatecrashers, as well as a disable video function that should help to limit potential disruptions.
Multigeo support, meanwhile, will allow businesses that operate in multiple territories to have greater visibility and control over the location of the data centers holding their data, which Microsoft says will help them guarantee compliance with data protection regulations.
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The most eagerly awaited update, however, is the introduction of end-to-end encryption to the Teams (opens in new tab) platform. This additional protection will be available to paying users and will initially apply to one-on-one meetings only, although Microsoft has hinted that E2EE will be extended to other meeting types further down the line.
Some of these new additions will arrive sooner than others, but all are set to land within the first half of the year.
Microsoft Teams end-to-end encryption
In a system protected by E2EE, communication between meeting participants is encrypted using cryptographic keys held only on users’ devices. This means no third party, Microsoft included, has access to the keys to decrypt private meeting data.
Rival video conferencing service Zoom (opens in new tab) found itself in hot water at the start of pandemic, when it emerged that claims its meeting participants were protected by full end-to-end encryption (opens in new tab) were unfounded.
After acquiring specialist firm Keybase and bringing on a dedicated team of developers, Zoom eventually implemented E2EE protection in October, six months later.
Now, Microsoft has given its first indication that it intends to roll out end-to-end encryption for Teams (opens in new tab) as well, albeit incrementally.
“In this first release, customers will have the ability to enable E2EE for 1:1 unscheduled Teams calls,” Microsoft explained. “Future updates will be made available to support customers’ evolving compliance needs, including expanding to scheduled calls and online meetings.”
According to the company, the first iteration of E2EE on Teams will provide a means of passing sensitive information between individuals in a secure manner. “For example, a call from an IT admin giving an employee her password voer Teams could be conducted with E2EE,” Microsoft proposed.